Top Ten Winter Outdoor Family Getaways

California Dreaming: Lake Tahoe, California
By Elyse Green

If the thought of Lake Tahoe brings to mind merely slot machines and showgirls, you've probably never been there. Or at least not to the right areas.

Lake Tahoe in winter is far more Rudolph than Rat Pack, a genuine Burl Ivesian winter wonderland. Besides having one of the highest concentrations of downhill ski resorts in the entire country, the greater Tahoe basin is enchanting, as rich in sparkling natural beauty as it is in wild west folklore (remember the Donner Party?). Surrounded by three national forests and several state parks as well, there is no limit to outdoor fun in Tahoe.

Many of the larger ski areas—Heavenly Valley, Squaw Valley, and Alpine Meadows in particular—are perfect for families. With an average of 25% "beginner" and 45% "intermediate" runs, there are plenty of slopes appropriate for everyone from Junior to Grandpa.

If you're uninterested in the big resort scene—or perhaps, big resort prices?—slip on over to the north side of Lake Tahoe and wonderfully family-oriented Donner Ski Ranch. It ain't fancy, but it's a great place to learn, and a heck of a bargain, to boot.

Not a Family of Skiers? Not a Problem. Tour Vikingholm Castle at Emerald Bay State Park, and while you're there, catch the stunning hike to Eagle Falls. Strap on the big feet and do the snowshoe trails, or get lost in one of the regions' three national forests.


Lake Tahoe, California

Nearby Tahoe National Forest features everything from hiking and fishing to historic points of interest.

Also bordering the Tahoe area is Eldorado National Forest which features some good winter hiking in Desolation Wilderness.

GORP's Tahoe Skiing Homepage

Information on the biggest and best of Tahoe's ski resorts, as well as smallest and most cozy.

Tahoe Snowshoeing

Non-skiers, never fear! Snowshoe trails like Donner Pass and Castle Peak will leave you breathless. Not sure if the family will take to snowshoeing? We'll let you in on a secret: kids love it!

Tahoe's Top Attractions

GORP feature on Tahoe area activities.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Golden State. Enjoy your trip!


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