There’s a tangible excitement in the air; the kind that comes with knowing soon it will be time to boot up. Skis and boards are being tuned and the nights are cold. A number of resorts are offering new adventures, clinics, special events and amenities that make Tahoe one of the most wonderful winter playgrounds. Each mountain is unique and has its own personality. Whether this is your first year on the hill or you’ve been skiing for decades, winter is here and Tahoe is ready.
Squaw Valley | Dave Shari
Boreal Mountain Resort
Boreal received more than 500 inches of snow last season and is ready for more this year. New improvements at Boreal include new grooming machines that will enhance the slopes and terrain park. Phase 1 of an LED slope-lighting project that makes for brighter nights, less energy usage and a better nighttime riding experience has been completed.
The Boreal Café, Fresh Food Bar and an outdoor Waffle Cabin offer a more expanded menu. Full-day ski and snowboard lessons have been remixed to become more fun, progressive and unique.
The 32,000-square-foot action sports facility, Woodward Tahoe, is where participants can use foam pits, ramps, trampolines, outdoor parks and learning terrain. The 13-foot half pipe allows skiers and riders to get comfortable before dropping into the super pipe. Neff Land, a pirate-themed park, returns with more than 30 new and unique features.
Guests can purchase an Access Pass to Boreal Mountain Resort and Woodward Tahoe.
Diamond Peak Ski Resort
Diamond Peak Ski Resort celebrates its 50th anniversary this season. With some of the most incredible views of Lake Tahoe, Diamond Peak strives to offer a winning family experience. With plenty of beginner runs and terrain-based learning programs, new skiers and riders will feel confident exploring new areas. More advanced riders can enjoy off-piste riding through treed glades and open bowls.
In an effort to improve forest health, Diamond Peak has opened up tree skiing between Diamond Back and Spillway along Crystal Ridge. Skiers and riders can look forward to improved off-piste conditions thanks to forest thinning.
The mountain also offers guided after-hours snowshoe hikes so non-skiers can explore the slopes and to exercise in a social setting.
Wild Bill’s BBQ has added new offerings at the mid-mountain Snowflake Lodge. Diamond Peak has partnered with the Incline Village Recreation Center’s Senior Programs to offer a 10-week ski-clinic series for ages 55 and older.
Courtesy Diamond Peak
Donner Ski Ranch
Historic and iconic, Donner Ski Ranch is a family-friendly resort that features a wide variety of terrain, where skiers and riders of all abilities can enjoy this mountain oasis. With one of the highest base elevations in the Sierra, Donner Ski Ranch boasts incredible powder, along with aggressive high-mountain and backside terrain. Advanced skiers and riders who want to escape the crowds and make their mark in untouched lines should give this area a try.
Donner Ski Ranch offers easy access to novice runs, group and private ski and snowboard lessons, equipment rentals, a retail shop and a tubing park that’s wild fun for kids of all ages.
The new Lytton Lake Lodge, nestled on the backside of the mountain in a serene wilderness, offers dining and drinking options for those who crave a remote mountain experience.
With daily ticket and package pricing up to 75 percent less than other resorts, Donner Ski Ranch is the No. 1 destination for budget-conscious adventurers.
Courtesy Donner Ski Ranch
Granlibakken Tahoe is an excellent learning slope for beginning skiers and riders. Affordable lift tickets and group lessons are offered Fridays through Mondays. Granlibakken’s popular sled hill offers winter fun for guests and locals alike.
For those who enjoy the uphill as much as the downhill, Granlibakken offers 74 acres of trails to explore by ski or snowshoe. There is easy access to Page Meadows or the Tahoe Rim Trail for those who wish to explore Tahoe’s snowy back country.
As in past years, skiing and sledding day passes are half priced for lodging guests. Enjoy its Christmas Torchlight Parade on Dec. 24 and ski the historic Olympic ski hill with an LED torch followed by gifts with Santa, cookies, hot drinks and mulled cider.
Heavenly Mountain Resort
Heavenly Mountain Resort rests above the azure blue waters of Lake Tahoe.
Heavenly offers customized private and on-demand ski and ride school lessons. Guests can customize their private lessons with Design Your Own Experience — designate preferences of terrain, style and development. Or request a ski and ride coach on the fly at kiosks located on the mountain, as well as at the base locations.
Unbuckle at Tamarack, Lake Tahoe’s highest elevation après ski party, features music, drinking and dancing, Fridays through Saturdays. Themed party weeks surrounding key holidays, such as Mardi Gras and spring break, will be offered this season. Tamarack Live is an all-new après experience featuring the region’s hottest bands Mondays through Thursdays.
Heavenly upped the ante partnering with Aaron Hagar to retrofit a retired grooming machine into a custom-built mobile DJ station, complete with 52 high-output speakers, provided by Kicker Audio and 1,200 watts of power. The DJ Cat will be bringing the party to the mountain in various locations all season long.
The new Tahoe Mountain Lab on-mountain co-working space reimagines the definition of work hard, play hard. Now there is an on-mountain shared workspace for remote professionals.
Homewood Mountain Resort
Homewood Mountain Resort offers a host of options for all levels of skiers and boarders. Wide-open beginner runs near the base area, hidden powder stashes in the trees and multiple terrain parks are just a few of the adventures waiting on this hill. Located on the West Shores of Lake Tahoe, the views from the slopes are awe-inspiring. Expanded terrain offerings, new terrain parks and dining options are just a few of the improvements skiers and riders can expect.
Following the successful launch of Homewood Snowcat Adventures last season, the resort continues to offer Snowcat-access, back-country skiing and riding. Groups of up to 10 advanced-level skiers and riders can enjoy guides to more than 750 acres of tree runs, steeps, glades, back-country bowls and fresh snow. All-day packages include lift access at Homewood, the Snowcat tour, back-country gear and professional instruction related to mountain safety practices.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Expedition Kirkwood is the master’s degree of ski school, combining the resort’s legendary terrain and secret powder pockets with qualified guides and expert coaches that offer safety and avalanche education. Guests can hone their skills navigating the signature chutes, cornices and bowls. Expedition Kirkwood offers numerous resort-based programs, junior programs, back-country and educational programs.
Guests are able to cross the boundary safely with Kirkwood’s Out of Bounds guides. Choose a 3- or 6-hour session to access remote terrain that will leave you pining for more. Explore Kirkwood on a Cat skiing adventure where guides and patrollers lead groups to only the freshest turns on these four-run sessions.
Kirkwood offers numerous camps and clinics throughout the season for all ages and skill levels. The Ladies Only packages allow ripping women to excel at their sport.
The Tahoe Local Pass lets you experience Kirkwood, Heavenly and Northstar.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe
Mt. Rose boasts the highest base elevation in Lake Tahoe at 8,260 feet. With panoramic views of the lake, Reno and the Carson Valley and plenty of varied terrain for all skiers and riders, Mt. Rose is a must-ski location. Significant trail improvements and snowmaking upgrades include the Main Lodge return trail, which has been graded and contoured into a more productive, functional ski trail. With minimal snowmaking, the Slide Bowl side of the resort is now expected to be accessible much earlier in the season. In addition, last season’s addition of nine new Polecat tower-mounted snow machines will more than double the amount of snow that can be produced, allowing the resort to more efficiently make snow and open even more terrain.
Mt. Rose offers night skiing on the Flying Jenny Conveyor Belt Fridays and Saturdays. Skiers and riders will enjoy a variety of terrain park features while skiing under the stars.
Courtesy Mt. Rose
Northstar California offers skiers unparalleled winter vacation experiences. Luxurious accommodations and fine dining combine with perfectly groomed runs and carefully sculpted terrain parks. Long runs and great snowmaking make Northstar ready for the season.
Northstars’ progressive terrain parks designed by Snow Park Technologies guide riders through introductory jumps and jibs to features designed for the resort’s professional athletes. The Ripperoo Riglet Park introduces younger children to the sport through features that teach in a fun setting. Skiers and riders looking to jump into freestyle terrain can check out the Burton Progression Park. The Stash is one of six all-natural terrain parks developed by Jake Burton, the Burton Team and Snow Park Technologies. Multi-level groups of skiers and riders should head to Moonshine for an exciting mix of features of all sizes and difficulties.
Après ski activities include ice skating, movies, arts and crafts and more. Holidays at Northstar include the Northern Lights Festival, a holiday tree lighting ceremony, sleigh rides, s’mores and holiday music events.
Since 1946, Sierra-at-Tahoe has been shoveling out fun for the entire family. The 320 acres to the east of Grandview Express are known as Huckleberry Canyon and offer accessible, pristine back-country terrain that winter dreams are made of. There is plenty of great tree skiing on this hill.
The Burton Progression Park is ideal for beginners and freestyle first-timers and with six terrain parks there are plenty of intermediate and advance terrain.
Soda Springs Resort
Soda Springs Resort opened in 1935, making it the longest running ski resort in California — and one of the best places to explore the magic of winter in Tahoe. With affordable lesson packages and a moving carpet, this resort is a great hill for first-time skiers and boarders.
In addition to skiing and riding for all levels, Soda Springs is a family-friendly fun center. Kids can drop in at Tube Town’s 20 tubing lanes. The Super Tuber cross features bumps, rollers and banked turns for an exhilarating ride. Ages 6 to 12 can take a spin on mini-snowmobiles after a day on the hill.
Courtesy Soda Springs
Alpine Meadows continues to be a locals’ favorite, with lots of great skiing terrain. The area ramped up for winter with significant improvements to the guest experience. Improvements to snowmaking infrastructure on Kangaroo Run at Alpine Meadows will benefit guests and ski racers who frequently use the run for training.
Alpine Meadows added five new snowmaking guns that will allow for expanded snowmaking on the lower portion of Summit Run. Expect more consistent snow surfaces and early-season snowmaking.
Beginning and intermediate skiers will enjoy the addition of learning features to the terrain parks. Gentle banked turns, small rollers and jumps allow skiers and riders to practice navigating manmade terrain before transitioning to larger features in the terrain parks.
A free shuttle and combined lift ticket with Squaw Valley allows skiers and riders to enjoy the best of both mountains in one day. An additional $1.5 million in snow removal equipment will improve ease and timeliness of access to both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows on big snow days.
Courtesy Squaw Alpine
Squaw Valley was host to the 1960 Winter Olympics and the torch still burns, drawing some of the best skiers and boarders to the awesome terrain offered. The resort invested more than $1 million in snowmaking enhancements for the upcoming season to produce more high-quality snow. Squaw Valley opened for 2016-17 on Nov. 11, and closed out last season on May 30, giving Squaw Valley the longest season in Tahoe.
With plenty of après ski events, music and holiday activities and the return of the WinterWonderGrass Festival, this season promises to be an exciting one.
From March 9 to 12, 2017, Alpine World Cup ski racing returns to Squaw Valley for the first time in nearly 50 years. Olympic champions, such as Mikaela Shiffrin and Squaw Valley’s own Julia Mancuso, will compete. In addition to heart-thumping ski racing, the weekend will offer music, fireworks and parties.
Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows offers its updated ski app to keep in touch and track real-time lift, trail and snow data. The handy app also includes the first of its kind, one-touch, easy group creation, enabling users to stay connected with friends and family on the hill with real-time tracking.
Courtesy Squaw Alpine
Sugar Bowl Ski Resort
Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, located on Donner Summit, averages 500 inches of snow annually. This resort is all about the culture of skiing and the alpine experience. When it’s storming out, there’s powder to be found on the mountain. Many of its runs are not groomed on storm days, leaving plenty of stashes of fabulous pow. Sugar Bowl is one of the only ski resorts in Tahoe with an open boundary policy, offering exciting back-country access.
The recently renovated Beltroom Bar on the Disney side of the mountain expanded its menu and seating — and offers an incredible Bloody Mary.
Pro alpine skier Daron Rahlves is the Sugar Bowl ambassador and hosts the infamous Silver Belt Race, which culminates atop Mount Lincoln.
Terrain parks, snow stashes, back-country access and adjacent Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Area are all some of the advantages to skiing at Sugar Bowl.
Courtesy Sugar Bowl
Tahoe Donner Downhill
Tahoe Donner has made ground improvements to the downhill ski trails to operate earlier in lower snow conditions and to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for skiers and riders. A new state-of-the-art snowmaking system allows the resort to make snow as needed.
The recent acquisition of Crabtree Canyon will provide 640 new acres and approximately 16 km of additional cross-country trails once the white stuff comes. Fat bike and snowshoe season passes are new and available this season.
Tahoe Donner remains a mecca for first-time skiers and boarders with its committed learning program for children, starting at age 3.
Children can improve their mountain skills with recreational ski and snowboard teams. Tahoe Donner also has a competitive race team for kids interested in skiing gates.
Courtesy Tahoe Donner Downhill