The Best Skiing in Lake Tahoe

Not many lift-accessed views rival that from the top of Ridge Run at Heavenly Resort. Carving wide turns on the mellow blue cruiser down the resort's California side, you stare into the indigo depths of Lake Tahoe like you're falling off the rim of a bowl filled with Easter egg dye. There's a timelessness to the skiing here that's hard to shake. Skier can access 14 downhill ski resorts from the road around Lake Tahoe, each with a different character. North along the northern coast near Donner Pass, Squaw Valley is the once-and-future place-to-be, boasting six mountains and 4,000 acres. Nearby Alpine Meadows has a liberal open-boundary policy and Northstar-at-Tahoe, once known for its terrain parks, is home to a new Ritz Carlton. On the less popular eastern and western edges, you'll find small-but-scrappy local's hangouts like Homewood, Sugar Bowl, and Mt. Rose. And in South Lake, Heavenly anchors the gambling town of South Lake Tahoe (technically Stateline, Nevada) with a gondola that leave from town. Farther south, Sierra-at-Tahoe opened a new avalanche-controlled sidecountry terrain in 2008, and Kirkwood Mountain Resort boasts some of the biggest skiing in the country, even if the base area is sleepy. Snows come in wet, heavy, and in large quantity. During droughts, that heavy snowpack turns in to the dreaded, rock-hard "Sierra Cement," but storms dropping 12 to 18 inches in a day are common. And should Mother Nature not cooperate, you'll hardly be stuck in your hotel playing gin rummy. Nightlife here dates back to the days of Rat Pack hideaways and Olympic ski bunnies. Catch a show at The Improv at Harvey's casino, watch the go-go dancers traipse the catwalks at Harrah's Vex nightclub, or play Texas Hold 'Em at the newly revamped Mont Bleu (formerly Caesar's Palace). In North Lake, hit the same bars and restaurants where Scot Schmidt and Shane McConkey used to frequent during the Squallywood heyday of the '80s and '90s. Just be sure to get to bed at some point—there's over 21,000 vertical feet within easy reach.

Published: 4 Feb 2010 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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