Alpine Meadows Ski Resort at Tahoe: Where the locals ski

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


A locals’ favorite, Alpine Meadows offers 2,400 skiable acres with stunning views in a relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere.  Why is it a locals’ favorite? It’s a drive up, get on a lift, and go ski amazing terrain without a touristy village kind of place.

Yes, in 2011 Alpine Meadows merged with its more well-known sister resort, Squaw Valley, which sits just 10-15 minutes down the road in all her splendor, and one lift ticket provides access to both resorts. But, so far, Alpine Meadows has retained that purist feel and is really just about the skiing.

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort at Tahoe: Skiing and snow boarding

Alpine Meadows, Lake Tahoe, California Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Alpine Meadows, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Quietly tucked away with over 100 trails, 7 bowls, and a terrain park, Alpine Meadows is located on the northwest shore of Lake Tahoe and normally receives the most snowfall of all the Tahoe resorts with an average of 450 inches per year. Alpine Meadows actually has two peaks, Ward Peak at 8,637 feet and Scott Peak at 8,289 feet.

Alpine Meadows first opened in 1961 as Ward Peak Ski Resort with three lifts. Today, Alpine Meadows operates 13 lifts with an uphill capacity of 18,700 per hour.

Alpine Bowl, Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Alpine Bowl, Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Alpine Meadows is an intermediate skier’s paradise with 40% of its trails providing diverse intermediate options on both the front side and the back side of the resort. The Summit Six, Roundhouse, Hot Wheels, and Lakeside lifts provide access to most of the intermediate terrain. Wide-open with expansive views of Lake Tahoe, intermediate groomers offer top to bottom skiing from Alpine Bowl to the base with a vertical drop of 1,802 feet.

Alpine Bowl, Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Alpine Bowl, Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

More advanced terrain can also be found on both the front side and the back side, with 35% of the resort’s runs classified as expert. The Pacific Crest Bowls, which descend from the Pacific Crest ridge line, include the Beaver Bowls, Estelle Bowl, and Wolverine Bowl, rewarding the most adventurous on the mountain with gladed trees, chutes, spines, wide-open bowls and an abundance of untracked snow.

For the beginners, all terrain is accessed from the Subway Chair or the Meadow Chair, keeping beginners very close to the base of the mountain near the day lodge.

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort at Tahoe: Dining & drinking

Alpine Meadows, Lake Tahoe, California Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Alpine Meadows, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The day lodge at Alpine Meadows is located at the base of the mountain and is the hub of activity with restaurants and bars, day lockers, a ski and snowboard gear shop, and a huge deck overlooking the mountain.

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort at Tahoe: Two resorts for the price of one

Squaw Valley Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

One lift ticket or pass at Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows provides access to both mountains and their 6,000 skiable acres, 42 lifts, and 270 trails.

If staying at Squaw Valley, with its nearly 60 restaurants, bars, boutiques and art galleries, having the ability to ski at Alpine Meadows provides a great option for additional terrain and a completely different atmosphere.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Currently, Alpine Meadows is connected to Squaw Alpine via a free shuttle between the mountains. However, in 2015, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, LLC, the owner of both resorts, announced plans to create a gondola connecting the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski areas.

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort at Tahoe: Where to stay

While there are no hotels at Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley has numerous options, as does Tahoe City, which is about 10 miles away and Truckee, about 14 miles from Alpine Meadows.

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort at Tahoe: Getting there and parking

Alpine Meadows, Lake Tahoe, California Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Alpine Meadows, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Alpine Meadows’ resort address is 2600 Alpine Meadows Rd, Tahoe City, California 96145.

Located off Highway 89 between Truckee and Tahoe City, Alpine Meadows is just 49 miles from the Reno Tahoe airport, 98 miles from Sacramento and 198 miles from San Francisco.

From Highway 80, take the CA-89 S exit and continue on Highway 89 for about 10 miles. Turn right on Alpine Meadows Road.

Free parking is available next to the resort and an overflow lot with shuttle bus is used during high season.

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Even Santa skis at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort at Tahoe: Know before you go

If you’re looking for a destination resort, stay at Squaw Valley. There are numerous lodging options at Squaw Valley and, if you are looking for a resort destination – i.e., no need to drive – stay at Squaw Valley and use the free shuttle to commute between the two resorts. If you stay in Tahoe City or Truckee, you probably need a car for commuting back and forth to the resort.

Consider hiring transportation to the mountain. Weather and road conditions change quickly in the Sierra and chains are required frequently on Highway 80 and Highway 89. Check out the road conditions at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) before heading to Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows or better, higher transportation, so you can relax and enjoy the trip.

Get in ski shape. Ski conditioning before you head to the slopes can greatly improve the enjoyment of your ski vacation. Check out the ski conditioning program a personal trainer put together for us for ideas.

Rent gear. Check into renting gear instead of bringing gear with you. Renting can make your travel easier and also provide a good chance to try out new skis or boards.

Dress in layers. Conditions change quickly on the mountain and what starts out as a warm, bluebird day on the mountain, can quickly change to cold and snowy conditions. We ski with a small backpack for different gloves, hand warmers, and other items.

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

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