Lake Tahoe skiing is world renowned due to the amazing scenic beauty of the area, and also because there is a large concentration of Lake Tahoe ski resorts within one small region. It’s only 32 miles by road from the north end of the lake down to the south, and the maximum distance between any two Lake Tahoe ski resorts is 75 miles.
The Lake Tahoe skiing is exceptionally varied. The Tahoe ski resorts offer cliff riddled alpine terrain, glade skiing, moguls, meticulously groomed corduroy, mellow family oriented slopes, and terrain parks, and some of the Lake Tahoe ski resorts offer majestic views across the lake.
Ski Lake Tahoe and enjoy the beautiful fine weather and bluebird days, however the Lake Tahoe snow is also legendary. Big storms dump huge amounts of powder on the mountains. Some of the Tahoe ski resorts receive 500 inches (12.7m) of snow per season on average, whilst Kirkwood
scores a massive 600 inches (15.2m) of snow!
What and Where is Lake Tahoe?
Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada is a massive fresh water lake that straddles the states of California and Nevada. The area around the lake is also referred to as Lake Tahoe, or Tahoe for short. Snowy mountains surround the lake on all sides, and combined with the crystal blue water of the lake, the Tahoe region is incredibly picturesque.
Sacramento is a little to the southwest, with Sugar Bowl
being the closest Lake Tahoe ski resort at only 91 miles from Sacramento. Reno Nevada
, the “Biggest Little City in the World” and its many casinos, is only 37 miles northeast of Lake Tahoe. The nearby Reno Tahoe Airport, receives more than 100 direct flights daily from various US cities.
San Francisco International Airport is about 200 miles to the southwest of South Lake Tahoe
, a drive that takes about 3 hours depending on road conditions. Los Angeles is about 440 miles to the south.
Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts
Your Lake Tahoe ski vacation can consist of going to just one resort or you can easily sample a handful or more of ski areas. Some of the ski resorts have multi-resort lift passes or there are sometimes deals that can make Lake Tahoe skiing across numerous resorts a little more affordable.
The Lake Tahoe ski resorts offer a lot of diversity and range from behemoth world class resorts to little mom and pop type ski areas for day trips.
Not surprisingly, the destination resorts (ie with base villages) are the most popular, the largest, and are frequented by many families due to the ease of slope access as well as the restaurants, bars and shops.
Overall Squaw Valley
is the best Tahoe ski resort (as rated by Powderhounds.com) with a massive 3,600 acres of skiable terrain that is suited to beginners up to pros, an upscale village with plenty of lodging, and trendy bars and restaurants.
has an equally fancy purpose built village, is incredibly family friendly, has impressive lifts, and lots of terrain for beginners and intermediates.
is the largest of the Tahoe ski resorts and has terrain that is particularly well suited to intermediate riders. The main base area of Heavenly is the bustling town of South Lake Tahoe.
is the top Lake Tahoe ski resort for powder hounds (as rated by Powderhounds.com), in part due to the abundant snowfall. It only has a small village with limited options for dining, drinking and shopping.
No Village - Lodging Available
The next category is those Lake Tahoe ski resorts that have lodging at or near the base area but no village per se (or just one or two evening dining options). These ski areas are typically less busy and ideal for a quiet retreat. Tahoe ski resorts that fall into this category include Alpine Meadows
, Sugar Bowl
, and Diamond Peak
Day Ski Areas
Lake Tahoe also has several day ski areas that have no lodging at the base. These are typically small to medium sized and include Mt Rose
, Sierra at Tahoe
, Boreal and Donner Ski Ranch.
Lake Tahoe Ski Towns
The towns around Lake Tahoe offer lots of diversity. If you want a quiet sedate Lake Tahoe ski vacation, you can stay in one of the peaceful lakeside villages. At the other end of the spectrum are the casino towns with pumping nightlife, and in between are western ski towns with rustic taverns. Budget lodging is available in Lake Tahoe or there are the ritzy and glamorous destination ski resorts.
South Lake Tahoe
is a large pumping casino town (aka city) on the south shore of the lake with a huge range of lodging, restaurants, bars and things to do. Resorts near South Lake Tahoe include Heavenly, Sierra at Tahoe, and Kirkwood.
is a city with an abundance of casinos near the northeast shore of Lake Tahoe. Reno is close to Mt Rose, Diamond Peak, and Northstar.
on the northeast shore of the lake offers a quiet picturesque vacation locale. Incline Village is close to Diamond Peak, Mt Rose, Northstar, and it’s not too far from Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.
is a historic western town to the northwest of the lake and close to lots of resorts: Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Northstar, Sugarbowl, Mt Rose, Diamond Peak and a few small ski areas.
Nearby Tahoe City
on the lake is also well positioned to access lots of ski resorts.
Lake Tahoe Ski Resort By Area
Most of the Lake Tahoe resorts are located near the north west part of the lake near Truckee, Tahoe City and King’s Beach. There are also a few ski areas at the southern end of the lake. Most of the Tahoe ski areas are California ski resorts.
North Lake Tahoe Skiing & Snowboarding
The ski resorts near the North Shore are Diamond Peak
, a little ski area at Incline Village, and Mt Rose
, a medium sized resort; both to the northeast of the lake in Nevada.
Moving west is Northstar
(formerly Northstar at Tahoe), which is a classy destination ski resort that has all the bells and whistles.
Donner Summit Area
A little northwest of Lake Tahoe is a collection of ski resorts. These include Boreal, Donner Ski Ranch, Soda Springs, Tahoe Donner and Sugar Bowl
. Compared to some of the high profile Tahoe ski resorts that can get absolutely chaotic, the ski resorts in this area provide a relative serenity, particularly mid-week when there aren’t many folks visiting from Sacramento.
These ski resorts are typically good to visit for a day trip or two, and many people stay in Truckee, a lovely western ski town that has a pretty laidback vibe relative to the casino towns on the Nevada side. Here are some Truckee accommodations
North West Lake Tahoe Resorts
Moving further anti-clockwise around Lake Tahoe are the resorts of Squaw Valley
, Alpine Meadows
and Grandlibakken. These ski resorts couldn’t be more different from each other.
Squaw Valley is big and rather trendy. Alpine Meadows and Homewood are very low key relative to Squaw Valley, and Grandlibakken is a wee little ski hill.
South Lake Tahoe Skiing
Around the south of the lake spanning both California and Nevada, is Heavenly Ski Resort
near South Lake Tahoe/Stateline. Heavenly is huge and the views from the ski resort across the lake are glorious. The Heavenly Resort is bustling and all the Nevada casinos make the place pretty lively too. There are an abundance of options for Heavenly accommodations
A little further away from the south shore of the lake are the Kirkwood
and Sierra at Tahoe