Skiing at Lake Tahoe

14/06/2021 - SnowTrex

California stands for summer, sun, sunshine – and excellent skiing. At Lake Tahoe on the border between California and Nevada, nine ski areas await with the finest powder. Extensive pine forests, massive mountain scenery, and the deep blue waters of a huge mountain lake: welcome to Lake Tahoe. The region around the famous lake is home to several ski areas where you can enjoy gliding through the powder under the mild Californian sun.

Skier in the mountains.

North and South Lake Tahoe

The approximately 500 km² lake forms the natural border between the states of California in the west and Nevada in the east. A total of nine ski areas are grouped around the lake, which belong to the “Ski Lake Tahoe” region: Heavenly (94 km) and Mount Rose (100 km) on the Nevada side; Squaw Valley (100 km), Alpine Meadows (100 km), Northstar (97 km), Kirkwood (65 km), Sierra-at-Tahoe (46 km), Sugar Bowl (90 km), Homewood Mountain (20 km) and Diamond Peak (30 km) in California. Such a large region with so many ski resorts needs to be divided sensibly. So, the tourism boards neatly separates North and South, more precisely from the shore towns of North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe. To the north of the lake are the big, wild Californian ski areas like Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Northstar, but also small gems like Homewood or the somewhat off-the-beaten-path Sugar Bowl.

Squaw Valley (North Lake Tahoe)

The 8th Winter Olympics in 1960 were held in Squaw Valley. Since then, at the latest, it has been more than present among winter sports fans, especially extreme skiers. Over 270 downhill runs of about 100 km in length, of which about 30 percent are for “experts”, i.e. advanced skiers, characterise the area. There are six peaks up to 2,760 m and 33 lifts, including the only Funitel in the whole of America! Modern, large-capacity gondolas don’t seem to be in vogue, either, as the 120-capacity gondola is also considered a special feature. Besides the hair-raising pro runs, Squaw Valley also offers easier slopes for pleasure skiers, e.g. at High Camp Mountain at 2,500 m.

Alpine Meadows (North Lake Tahoe)

Right in the neighbouring valley to Squaw Valley lies a ski area with a pretty name: Alpine Meadows, which reaches up to 2,630 m and is slightly smaller than Squaw Valley with 100 runs and 13 lifts. With well-maintained slopes and several bowls, it is family-friendly and versatile.

Homewood (North Lake Tahoe)

About 20 miles south of Alpine Meadows and right on the lake shore lies the small ski area of Homewood. It has eight lifts, 20 km of runs and just as many off-road routes leading through dense forests. What’s more: there’s always a great view of the lake. Here, you practically have the feeling of landing in the water with the tips of your skis at the end of the slope.

Northstar (North Lake Tahoe)

The infrastructure of Northstar is comparable to that of European ski villages: The Northstar Village is located at the foot of the slopes, where cosy, residential complexes, restaurants and many shops are gathered around the valley station. In general, the village is well suited for shopping. With about 97 km of pistes, 19 lifts, seven terrain parks, a fun park, a snow tubing track and an adventure park for children, it has something for everyone.

Sugar Bowl (North Lake Tahoe)

Perhaps this ski area got its name from the powder-sugar-like deep-snow slopes, but in any case, the name absolutely applies to this bowl: 90 km of the finest pistes on four ski mountains plus 50 km of ski routes and steep double diamonds on Mount Lincoln (2,555 m) make this bowl an all-round attractive ski area for every level of skier. Also worth a visit are the three snow parks Golden Gate, Coldstream and Caboose, which are divided into beginner to pro lines and have numerous obstacles and even a mini boardercross.

Mount Rose (North Lake Tahoe)

On the Nevada side, Mount Rose is another pearl in the northern lake environment. Of all the Tahoe ski areas, it is closest to Reno and thus to the Tahoe airport. Another special feature is that it is the only Tahoe ski area where you can look out over the gambling metropolis of Reno and the lake at the same time from the mountain tops, which reach up to 2,957 metres. In addition, the off-piste runs are notorious: in the so-called “chutes” lie the steepest and longest slopes in all of North America. On the northern slopes, up to 55 degrees of incline await off-piste enthusiasts.

Diamond Peak (North Lake Tahoe)

Another small, but true diamond in the rough are the slopes on the mountain of the same name. With predominantly blue pistes, the 30 km of runs at altitudes up to 2,602 m are popular with families, but snowboarders also get their money’s worth on several black diamonds.

Heavenly (South Lake Tahoe)

In the south of the lake, there are fewer albeit truly fantastic ski mountains, first and foremost the popular Heavenly. The name says it all: a simply heavenly ski area. Not only does it offer a huge ski terrain with the greatest difference in altitude (1,154 m), but also a unique panorama between desert and mountain lake. Heavenly is located at the southern end of Lake Tahoe on the Californian side. A gondola lift runs from the village to the ski area, and a little further up, there is another lift entrance at the California Lodge. With its highest point at 3,060 m, Heavenly is the highest and, apart from Squaw Valley, also the largest ski area on Lake Tahoe. With 94 km of downhill skiing and many difficult runs and off-piste routes, it is a real treat, especially for expert skiers.

Sierra-at-Tahoe (South Lake Tahoe)

Small, yet mighty is the description of the area on Huckleberry Mountain (2,698 m). A 15-minute drive from South Lake Tahoe, 46 kilometres of pistes and about 50 km of ski routes await experienced skiers and tree skiing fans. The valley station is located at 2,225 m and thus at snow-sure altitudes. It is considered a family area with many lifts and slopes suitable for beginners. However, a great off-piste area also awaits off-piste fans in the Huckleberry Bowl. A real highlight is the Star Wars snow park, where Yoda welcomes freestyle beginners and the obstacles are themed after the famous space saga.

Kirkwood (South Lake Tahoe)

The somewhat smaller Kirkwood, with 65 km of runs, is a good half hour south of South Lake Tahoe and is reserved more for the experts. Almost a third of the slopes are marked black. It’s mainly winter sports fans with a very specific goal who come up here: to master harakiri runs on the steep walls of the open bowls.

Special destination (South Lake Tahoe)

Besides all the great ski areas, a very different kind of vice call itself home here: gambling. In Nevada, where gambling is allowed, the casinos are bustling. Along with Las Vegas, Reno is also a popular gambling town, located just 48 miles (77 km) from North Lake Tahoe. The casinos just over the border at Heavenly are even closer. So, South Lake Tahoe guests can indulge in gambling fun while skiing at one of Lake Tahoe’s most popular ski areas.


If you want to ski in several Tahoe areas, we recommend getting an “Epic Pass”. Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood are part of the lift network that covers almost all major ski areas in the Midwest – and at least three of the many great spots around Lake Tahoe.

  • Monday, 14. June 2021
  • Author: SnowTrex
  • Category: Ski Areas
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