Compiled by Naina Murthy and Matthew Hamilton
Northstar Ski Resort in North Lake Tahoe is the ideal mountain for those looking to try a little bit of everything. Northstar offers 97 trails, most of which are for intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Northstar also has the highest amount of beginner trails of any major resort, making it the best for those trying out skiing for the first time or for those with younger kids. It also has tree skiing off the main trails available for experts. One aspect that distinguishes Northstar from other resorts is its snow-making system. It has the largest artificial snow system in North Lake Tahoe so the mountain often stays open longer than other resorts, even though it receives only 350 inches a year on average. Northstar also has a legendary terrain park with jumps and a half pipe that was used by Shaun White to train for the Winter Olympics. Teen lift tickets are around $100 a day depending on the season.
Squaw Valley is also located in North Lake Tahoe and is geared more towards advanced skiers and snowboarders. Squaw Valley has over 170 trails and 16 bowls which are ungroomed terrain with no trees. The terrain is more favorable for advanced skiers. Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics and has Olympic-level runs available throughout the ski season. Squaw Valley boasts one of the largest total snowfalls a year in the Lake Tahoe Area with 400 inches a year and can also make snow on 11 of its 29 lifts. Night skiing is offered every Saturday from Jan. to March. Squaw has floodlights on some major runs, and on Saturday nights you can ski down the slopes under the stars. Teen tickets are around $100 a day. Squaw offers snowshoeing, cross country skiing and snow tubing in addition to skiing. Squaw also has a village located next to the mountain with lodging and shopping.
Kirkwood is an hour south of Lake Tahoe and is the perfect resort for someone searching for a skiing experience that lake resorts cannot offer. The distance from the rest of Lake Tahoe breeds a different skiing culture at Kirkwood. Because of its location, Kirkwood receives 600 inches of snow a year, almost double that of other resorts. With double the amount of snow, Kirkwood has lots of opportunities for what is known as powder skiing where the snow is not packed down. Kirkwood has the most advanced terrain of any mountain, even more than Squaw Valley. Almost 70 percent of its 87 trails are for advanced or expert skiers. Tickets for teens are around $70 a day. Although Kirkwood offers lodging, the options are not as extensive as the resorts near the lake. Kirkwood is ideal for expert skiers looking forward to a more challenging experience than the typical lake resort. It will be worth the extra miles traveled.
ACTIVITIES FOR NON-SKIERS
Travel over 100 miles of Lake Tahoe on snowmobiling tours through the National Forest. It offers the best views of Lake Tahoe from an elevation of 8,200 feet on the top of Mt. Watson. See views of the major Ski Resorts: Northstar, Squaw Valley and Alpine. A two hour tour is $150 for a single rider or $180 for a double rider.
Try an old-fashioned sleigh ride in one of several antique sleighs at Borges Carriage Rides. Your adventure will take you over a meadow, through the woods to grandmother’s house, overlooking some of Lake Tahoe’s Kodak views. 30-minute group rides are $25 and 60-minute private rides are $50.
Caples Lake, which is located on Highway 88 on the south side of Tahoe, is the ideal spot for ice fishing. The lake has a resort open during the winter and will give you tips on the best bait and lures for the lake’s beautiful rainbow trout.
Explore the magnificent Sierra Nevada mountains as a team of huskies take you on a great adventure. Wilderness Dog Adventures offers you an experience of excitement by touring some amazing views. The weekday rate starts at $110 and the weekend rate starts at $125. Enjoy a day of dog sledding under the reins of an experienced musher.