Big mountain skiing at Kirkwood Ski Resort

Big mountain skiing at Kirkwood Ski Resort

Cover: Big mountain skiing at Kirkwood Ski Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Are you a fan of big mountain skiing with no lift lines? Then Kirkwood Ski Resort is the place to go. With 2,000 feet of vertical drop from a summit of 9,800 feet/2987 meters and 2,300 acres of terrain, Kirkwood delivers a day of challenges, adventure, and pure skiing pleasure.

Kirkwood Ski Resort
Kirkwood Ski Resort
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

But, don’t let the term “big mountain” make you think Kirkwood isn’t a great spot for all levels. Kirkwood has plenty of diverse terrain for skiers and boarders of all levels, from gentle greens, to wide blue groomers, to legendary steep chutes and cornices.

Skiing for all levels at Kirkwood Resort
Skiing for all levels at Kirkwood Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kirkwood’s high elevation also delivers some of the driest skiing in the west, creating plentiful powder stashes throughout the mountain.

Kirkwood Ski Resort tree skiing
Kirkwood Resort tree skiing
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A bit off the beaten path, Kirkwood is located 80 miles south of Reno and 34 miles south of South Lake Tahoe – a little extra drive that is rewarded with less crowds, great skiing and boarding, and an unpretentious atmosphere.

Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kirkwood Ski Resort: Skiing and snowboarding

The Bunny Lift at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
The Bunny Lift at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Starting with the beginners’ areas, 12% of Kirkwood’s trails are rated green and are primarily located near each of the base areas off of the Snowkirk and Bunny lifts. Kirkwood’s greens are gentle and the terrain near the Bunny lift is all green, making it a perfect environment for novices to gain skills and confidence without dodging faster, higher level riders.

For intermediate skiers, 30% of the runs are blue, with most of the trails spread across the resort at the mid-mountain level. A great intermediate plan of attack – take the Snowkirk lift out of the Village, then turn left and head over to the Caples Crest lift.

Intermediate skiing at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Intermediate skiing at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Kim Hull skiing the blues at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Kim Hull skiing the blues at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At the top of Caples Crest, take Herringbone Straight off the back, then head up the Chair 4/Sunrise lift. Enjoy the stunning views as the sun begins to warm the day, then head down Elevator Shaft or my favorite, Happiness Is.

Skiing off of the Sunrise Lift at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Skiing off of the Sunrise Lift at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After a morning of play near the Sunrise lift, the Sunrise Grill is a great on-mountain spot to grab a burger and a beverage, soak up some rays in one of the Adirondack chairs, and marvel at the views.

Sunrise Grill at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Sunrise Grill at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

When you are ready to explore further, take the Ironhorse lift to connect to any of the blues back to the Village, then hop aboard Solitude.

Greg Hull at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Greg Hull at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
A bluebird day at Kirkwood Mountain Resort
A bluebird day at Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At the top of the Solitude lift, turn right and then watch for Home Run on the left on the descent, which will deliver you to the Timber Creek Base Area.

Solitude Lift at Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Solitude Lift at Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The tree-lined trails off the Timber Creek lift are an intermediate playground, with multiple blue trails and loads of tree skiing fun.

Kim Hull heading into the trees at Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Kim Hull heading into the trees at Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Famous for its advanced (38%) and expert (20%) terrain, Kirkwood has it all for skiers and snowboarders looking for a true challenge.

58% of Kirkwood's terrain is rated advanced or expert
58% of Kirkwood’s terrain is rated advanced or expert
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From chutes, to cornices, to glades and bowls, Kirkwood has some jaw-dropping descents. That said – expert is really expert at Kirkwood, so don’t underestimate the extreme terrain and overdo it, putting yourself and others at risk.

Advanced skiing at Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Advanced skiing at Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kirkwood has two terrain parks – Bandit at Timber Creek (closed for the 2015-2016 season) for beginner-level boxes, jumps and rails and Outlaw off the Solitude lift, with three box and rail features and three table top jumps.

Working at the Bandit Terrain Park at Kirkwood
Working at the Bandit Terrain Park at Kirkwood
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

How about some cross-country skiing?  Kirkwood boasts 80 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails amidst fabulous scenery – even a one-kilometer loop adorned with animal cutouts called the “Kiddy Kilometer.” The cross-country center is located near the Kirkwood Inn and offers lessons as well as equipment rentals.

Ski and ride school

Kirkwood Ski & Ride School
Kirkwood Ski & Ride School
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Kirkwood Ski & Ride School is a great place to begin a visit to Kirkwood. With lessons available for beginners, intermediates, and experts, even a one day lesson provides tips and tricks that enhance your time on the snow.

In addition to the ski school, Kirkwood offers online equipment rental, a demo center, a tuning center and ski shops at both villages with a full range of equipment from skis and boards, to boots, to soft goods.

Timber Creek Base Area at Kirkwood
Timber Creek Base Area at Kirkwood
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kirkwood Ski Resort: Dining & drinking

The Village at Kirkwood Ski Resort
The Village at Kirkwood Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A variety of shops, restaurants, and bars are located around and on the mountain, providing a wide variety of choices whether you’re seeking something to grab and go or a slopeside patio.

Slopeside dining at Off the Wall at Kirkwood
Slopeside dining at Off the Wall at Kirkwood
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to the Sunrise Grill, one of our favorites is Off the Wall in the village, with an authentic lodge feel indoors or spectacular views on the patio. Try the blackened shrimp and avocado quesadillas – they are tasty!

Off the Wall at Kirkwood
Off the Wall at Kirkwood
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Where to stay

Lodging at Kirkwood Ski Resort
Lodging at Kirkwood Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Accommodations near Kirkwood are primarily townhouses and condominiums rented through property management companies and/or the owners. A wide selection of hotels are available in South Lake Tahoe, which is located about 55 minutes away. If staying at South Lake Tahoe, be sure to check into the Kirkwood shuttle that provides roundtrip transportation for $20.

Getting to Kirkwood and parking

Kirkwood’s address is 1501 Kirkwood Meadows Drive, Kirkwood, CA 95646.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort is located 80 miles from the Reno Tahoe airport, or about 1 hour 40 minutes. From South Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood is 34 miles or about 55 minutes. From San Francisco (SFO), Kirkwood is 184 miles or about 3 hours and 35 minutes.

Know before you go

"Skiing Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Understand the symptoms of altitude sickness. Altitude sickness most commonly occurs above 8,000 feet/2400 meters due to the lower oxygen levels. If you live at a lower elevation and travel quickly to a high elevation, you are more likely to experience some form of altitude sickness, which can include tiring easily, headaches, nausea, loss of appetite and other symptoms. Drink plenty of water, limit alcohol consumption and take it slow when you arrive. If you fly into Reno, which sits at 4,415 feet/1,346 meters, consider spending a night or two in Reno to acclimate before heading to the mountains.

Carry chains if driving. Road conditions and weather change quickly in the Sierra and frequently chains are required. Information on road conditions can be found at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

Consider hiring transportation to the Kirkwood or South Lake Tahoe. Several private companies offer shuttle services to South Lake Tahoe, so you simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.

Zip lines at Kirkwood Mountain Resor
Zip lines at Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Visit in the summer as well. Kirkwood is a year-round destination with lift-accessed hiking and mountain biking, disc golf, fishing, boating and zip lining.

Kim Hull skiing at Kirkwood
Kim Hull skiing at Kirkwood
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The content & opinions expressed in our Kirkwood Ski Resort Review are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Homewood Ski Resort views, Lake Tahoe, California

Magnificent views & uncrowded skiing at Homewood Ski Resort

Lake Tahoe skiing & riding at Homewood Mountain Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Located in quiet Homewood, CA across the street from Lake Tahoe, Homewood Mountain Ski Resort offers spectacular views of Lake Tahoe, over 2,000 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain, one of the best value ski and snowboard school deals around, and a family friendly, low-key locals’ vibe.

Family skiing at Homewood Ski Resort
Family skiing at Homewood Ski Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Not glitzy like the nearby larger resorts, Homewood is relaxed, where it’s about the skiing experience. Friends and families gather at large tables over lunch, laughing and sharing stories about their day on the hill, then it’s back up for some more fun on the snow.

Homewood North Lodge base area
Homewood North Lodge base area
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Homewood Ski Resort: Skiing and snowboarding

Homewood Mountain Resort views
Homewood Mountain Resort views
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Homewood Ski Resort’s 64 trails and 6 terrain parks are accessed via 8 lifts. Situated on the west shore of Lake Tahoe with a variety of terrain, Homewood is big enough to keep it interesting, but small enough to maintain its laid back appeal. And, with views that skiers and boarders visiting from both near and far stop to capture.

Photos at Homewood Ski Resort
Photos at Homewood Ski Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Combine receiving an average of 450 inches of snow per year with being notoriously uncrowded (especially on non-holiday weekdays) and you have an authentic day of skiing with plenty of secret stashes to be found – all the way into the afternoon.

Homewood Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Homewood Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Protected from ridge-winds by Ellis Peak’s unique position, the wind is far less of an issue than at other resorts, keeping lifts turning.

Half of the trails at Homewood are rated intermediate, with plenty of wide cruisers and paths to explore and 35% of the runs are advanced, with some incredible tree skiing and exhilarating terrain.

Heading for the trees at Homewood Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Heading for the trees at Homewood Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The base elevation at Homewood is 6,230 feet/1,899 meters, with the lift-accessible terrain topping out at 7,880 feet / 2,402 meters. Above the lifts, an additional 750+ acres of terrain can be accessed on one of the Homewood Snowcat Adventures guided tours, which provides snowcat access for groups of 10 skiers and/or riders maximum to the top of the mountain, which reaches 8,740 feet/2,664 meters.

Homewood Snowcat Adventures participants gain access to over 750 acres of backcountry terrain on Ellis Peak, ranging from bowls to glade skiing.

Snowboarding at Homewood
Snowboarding at Homewood
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While only 15% of the terrain is for beginners, Homewood has four surface lifts and a great beginners area for new skiers and riders.

Homewood is an affordable place for families to learn and play together. Homewood offers Value Days throughout the season (tickets must be purchased in advance – check the Homewood website for dates & pricing), free skiing for active military on non-peak days, and kids under 4 ski free.

Magic carpet, Homewood Ski and Snowboard School
Magic carpet, Homewood Ski and Snowboard School
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Homewood Ski and Snowboard School

Homewood Ski School
Homewood Ski School
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Homewood’s ski and snowboard school offers classes from beginners to advanced and has one of the most affordable ski/snowboard deals around. The 2016 Homewood Learn to Ski or Learn to Ride package is available on non-holidays, Sunday-Friday, for $52 and includes a half-day lesson, all day equipment rental, and a beginner lift ticket – an incredible bargain. Learn to Ski or Learn to Ride packages must be purchased online at least 2 days in advance of the lesson date.

Equipment rentals are available at the North Lodge rental shop, as well as retail items and waxing services.

Homewood Mountain Sports, Lake Tahoe, California
Homewood Mountain Sports, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Homewood Ski Resort: Dining & drinking

There are two-day lodges at Homewood, with the North Lodge at the north base area and one at the South Lodge at the southern base area. At the South Lodge, The Southwest Grill serves up southwestern fare and the Fireplace Tavern is a full bar with daily drink specials.

89 Bar & Grill, Homewood Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
89 Bar & Grill, Homewood Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Upstairs at the North Lodge, the 89 Bar & Grill is a popular spot with a full bar and restaurant offering burgers, soup, and salads.

89 Bar & Grill at Homewood
89 Bar & Grill at Homewood
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Downstairs, the Madden Cafe is a great spot to grab a quick coffee or pizza and enjoy it at one of the plentiful outdoor tables at the base of all the action.

Madden Cafe at Homewood, Lake Tahoe, California
Madden Cafe at Homewood, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Just below the top of the Madden Triple Chair is the Big Blue View Bar, with burgers, hot dogs, a full bar, and incredible lake views.

Big Blue View Bar, Homewood Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Big Blue View Bar, Homewood Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Homewood Ski Resort: Where to Stay

The West Shore Café & Inn is located directly across from Homewood with five guest rooms & suites and two villas. Additionally, a variety of lodging options is available in Tahoe City about 7 miles away.

Homewood Ski Resort views, Lake Tahoe, California
Homewood Ski Resort views, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Homewood Ski Resort: Getting there

Homewood Ski Resort’s address is 5145 W Lake Blvd, Homewood, CA 96141.

Homewood is located 58 miles, or about 1 hour 10 minutes, from the Reno Tahoe airport, and approximately 213 miles from San Francisco. From Highway 80, take the CA-89 S (exit 185) exit and continue on Highway 89 for 21 miles to Homewood, California.

Parking at both of the lodges is free, close and convenient – but limited. The Homewood Shuttle is an on-call service for guests from Incline Village to The Rubicon. Homewood Visitors who take Tahoe Area Regional Transit (TART) receive a voucher for $5 off a lift ticket.

Homewood North Lodge, Lake Tahoe, California
Homewood North Lodge, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Homewood Ski Resort: Know before you go

Check the road conditions before you go. Chains are required frequently on Highway 80 and Highway 89 and be sure to check the road conditions at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) before heading to Homewood.

Stay hydrated. Remember you are at elevation, which causes you to lose water through respiration, so drink extra water while in the mountains.

What to bring/send with your child to ski school. To get the most from any day in ski school, dress in layers to stay comfortable throughout the day’s changing temperature, wear waterproof jacket and pants, bring gloves or mittens, wear warm socks, and always wear a helmet when on the snow.

Kim Hull at Homewood Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Kim Hull at Homewood Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The content & opinions expressed in our Homewood Ski Resort Review are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California

Ski in two states in one day at Heavenly Lake Tahoe Ski Resort

Cover: Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


It’s not every day you hit the slopes for a day and ski from Nevada to California.

Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With the state line between Nevada and California running down the middle of Heavenly Ski Resort at South Lake Tahoe, you’ll do just that – ski in two states on one day. It may take you awhile though, considering the fact that Heavenly is massive.

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

Heavenly is without a doubt one of the most appropriately named ski resorts in the world. With many runs providing sweeping views of the sapphire blue waters of Lake Tahoe, the experience is simply… Heavenly. While most all of the Tahoe resorts have beautiful lake views, Heavenly’s are the most expansive, with a photo opportunity around every bend. So, grab your skis or board and your camera phone, and plan on an incredible day on the snow.

Heavenly Lake Tahoe: Lay of the land

A giant of a resort, Heavenly’s 4,800 skiable acres make it the largest ski resort at Lake Tahoe and the fourth largest in the United States. Understanding how to access all that terrain is important for making the most of your time at the resort.

Gondola/Heavenly Village area: The gondola departs from the Heavenly Village area at Stateline, where numerous hotels, casinos, restaurants, equipment rental shops, and retail stores are located. The Tamarack Lodge is at the top of the gondola and all levels of skiing can be accessed from this point. However, parking is limited near the gondola area so one of the other lodges may provide a better starting point for those arriving by car.

Gondola at Heavenly Village, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Gondola at Heavenly Village, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The California Lodge, Heavenly’s original mountain base, is located and about two miles from the Heavenly Village gondola area.

California Lodge, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
California Lodge, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Located at the bottom of the Gunbarrel run (a very long, double black, mogul run – don’t freak out, there are other ways down), the California Lodge has free & premium parking, an equipment rental shop, The California Bar, a ski school and the Aerial Tram.

Gunbarrel, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Gunbarrel, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Aerial Tram, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Aerial Tram, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The World Cup ski area, where race events are frequently held, is also near the California Lodge.

Racing events, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Racing events, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Oh, and, that way to get back down without tackling the Gunbarrel bumps – near the base of the Powderbowl Express and Patsy’s take the intermediate Round-a-Bout down, or just simply download on the Tram or Gunbarrel Express.

Nevada side lodges: Boulder Lodge and Stagecoach Lodge are located on the Nevada side of the mountain about 4-6 miles from the Heavenly Village gondola area. Both have free parking and offer equipment rental. Boulder has an adult and children ski school and provides access to the entire mountain for all levels of skiers and riders. Stage Coach also provides access to all of Heavenly but is only appropriate for intermediate and advanced skiers.

Heavenly Lake Tahoe: Skiing and snowboarding

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

How big is Heavenly? 97 trails, two terrain parks, 28 lifts (14 in California & 14 in Nevada), a gondola, a tram, and great skiing and boarding for all skill levels.

The base elevation on the California side is 6,540 feet/1,995 meters and 7,200 feet/2,195 meters on the Nevada side.

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

If you think the sights are great on the lower trails, head to the summit where you’ll feel like you just stepped into a Heavenly ad with its panoramic views. Reached via the Sky Express lift (not suitable for beginners as trails are blue and black), the summit sits at 10,067 feet/3,069 meters, the highest at Lake Tahoe.

Madeline, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Madeline, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Madeline, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Madeline, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While at the summit, be sure to stop by the Ski Patrol, pick up a Heavenly Avalanche Rescue Dogs t-shirt, and say hi to the friendliest group of Ski Patrollers you’ll meet on a mountain and their fabulous four legged companions – who by the way, star in their own Heavenly video…

Now, that we have the sightseeing finished, it’s time to get down to business with 3,500 feet/1,067 meters of vertical to explore.

Well-known for their wide-open, blue cruisers, 45% of Heavenly’s trails are intermediate.

Kim Hull at Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Kim Hull at Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From the top, you have two choices – ski toward Nevada along the spectacular Skyline Trail, linking to the Big Dipper which lands you in an assortment of tree-lined intermediates serviced by Dipper Express and Comet Express.

Or, continue to play in California, heading out on Ridge Run, then taking Liz’s or High Five, both which are pure fun.

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

Experts and advanced skiers have 35% of the terrain to navigate with steeps, chutes, moguls, and some of the best tree skiing in North America. The expert areas of Mott Canyon and Killebrew Canyon on the Nevada side, really are expert, so don’t attempt these double blacks unless you have the skills to pull it off. Last, but not least, the above mentioned Gunbarrel is a huge mogul hill leading down to the California Lodge.

Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

For the beginners, 20% of Heavenly’s runs are gentle green groomers. Near Powderbowl Express, Mombo and Maggies are enjoyable runs and Easy Street can be accessed close to the Tamarack Lodge at the top of the gonodola. For those just starting out, Boulder at the Boulder Lodge is a good option.

Heavenly Ski and Snowboard School, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Heavenly Ski and Snowboard School, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

But, an even better choice is to spend some time with the Heavenly Ski and Snowboard School. With schools located across the mountain for children and adults, including a First Timer option at the California Lodge, a few lessons will greatly improve both your skill and enjoyment of snow sports.

Heavenly Ski and Snowboard School, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Heavenly Ski and Snowboard School, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Heavenly Lake Tahoe: On mountain dining and drinking

From microbrews & burgers to pizza & paninis, to snacks & warm beverages, the multiple dining options spread across the mountain offer something for all tastes.

The Sky Deck, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
The Sky Deck, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Our favorites: The Sky Deck at the foot of the Sky Express lift, with grilled fare (try the black bean burger), a bar and plenty of space to catch a few rays and relax during your lunch break.

Steins, near the Patsy’s and Powderbowl Express lifts – also a great place to grab a beer and a soup and soak up the sun.

Steins, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Steins, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Heavenly Lake Tahoe:  Additional mountain activities

For skiers and non-skiers alike, a wide variety of mountain activities are just a 2.4 mile, breathtaking gondola ride up to the Tamarack Lodge.

Observation deckTake the Observation Deck stop on the gondola ride and take in the panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and grab a drink or bite to eat at Café Blue.

Tubing and sledding at Adventure Peak. With five lanes of tubing and sledding fun on a 500-foot long course with a 65-foot vertical drop, Adventure Peak offers great family fun.

Unbuckle après ski party. A perfect spot for skiers and non-skiers to meet and share some on mountain fun. Located at the Tamarack Lodge at the top of the gondola with drink specials, live DJs, and dancing.

Ice skating. Near the base of the gondola in the village, the Heavenly Village Ice Rink is an open-air ice skating rink which is open daily throughout the ski season.

Ice rink at Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Ice rink at Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Heavenly Lake Tahoe:  Where to stay

Heavenly Village, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Heavenly Village, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From luxury hotels to casino hotels to rustic cabins, South Lake Tahoe has a wide variety of lodging options. Hotels located in Heavenly Village, nearest to the gondola, include Grand Residences by Marriott, Marriott’s Timber Lodge, and Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel.

Heavenly Village, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Heavenly Lake Tahoe: Getting there and parking

Heavenly Lake Tahoe’s address is 4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150.

Heavenly Ski Resort is located 58 miles or about 1 hour, 8 minutes from the Reno Tahoe airport or about 200 miles from SFO airport in San Francisco. From Reno, take I-580 south to Carson City, then take US-50 W in South Lake Tahoe.

Heavenly offers a complimentary ski shuttle service throughout South Lake Tahoe and Stateline, making stops at most major facilities, from 8:00am-5:00pm.

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

Heavenly Lake Tahoe:  Know before you go

Bring the sunscreen. While you may want to go home with a goggle tan, you don’t want a sunburn. With over 300 days of sunshine and the highest elevation of all the Tahoe resorts, sunscreen should be applied often.

Drink lots of water. According to experts, you lose water through respiration at high altitude twice as quickly as you do at sea level. Whether you’re skiing on the hill all day, shopping in Heavenly Village or out for an evening in the casinos, you need to drink extra water to combat the effects of higher altitude.

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.

Consider hiring transportation to the mountain. Weather and road conditions change quickly in the Sierra and chains are frequently required. Check out the road conditions at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) before heading to Heavenly or better, hire transportation, so you can relax and enjoy the trip.

Learn more about Heavenly Lake Tahoe on their website.

Kim Hull at Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Kim Hull at Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California

Squaw Valley Ski Resort: Olympic skiing for everyone

Cover: Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


It doesn’t take too long on your first visit to Squaw Valley to see why it was selected as the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

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

With its six peaks, varied terrain, stunning alpine and lake views, and average annual snowfall of 450 inches, Squaw Valley is a snow sports paradise. Add to that natural skiing perfection the Village at Squaw Valley (with nearly 60 restaurants, shops and galleries), a wide variety of activities off the snow, world-class lodging, and lift tickets that grant unlimited access to both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, and you have today’s Squaw Valley Ski Resort, one of the top ski resorts in the world.

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

Squaw Valley Ski Resort at Tahoe: Skiing and snow boarding

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

With 3,600 skiable acres, 29 lifts, 170 trails, 16 bowls and 4 terrain parks, Squaw Valley has a lot to offer in sheer size. Spread across six peaks in the Olympic Valley about 10 miles from Lake Tahoe’s northwestern shore, Squaw Valley has skiing and boarding for all ability levels.

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

While well-known for its extreme terrain with 30% of its runs ranked advanced or expert, the remaining 70% of Squaw’s trails range from mild to challenging, with 25% suitable for beginners and 45% intermediate – making it a perfect resort for everyone.

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

Beginners can learn with a view at Squaw Valley. A scenic tram ride to High Camp lands beginners in the middle of numerous gentle, groomed green runs, as well as a skating rink, swimming pool and the Terrace restaurant and bar.

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

For beginners of all ages, Squaw Valley has created first time and beginner programs with dedicated learning zones and teaching methodologies designed to reduce obstacles and accelerate progression to more advanced skiing. The Squaw Valley Ski School also offers intermediate, advanced, expert, children and family programs.

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

Squaw Valley has the reputation of not having much intermediate skiing. Yet, nearly half of the trails at Squaw are blue runs. If you like blues, jump on the Gold Coast Funitel and head up to some beautiful runs (a funitel has two steel cables versus the one on a classic gondola, allowing it to tolerate higher winds). Many of the trails off the Siberia Express, Emigrant, Gold Coast Express, and Shirley Lake Express chairlifts are intermediate with varying levels of steepness and difficulty. The 360° views at the top of Emigrant are stunning and not to be missed.

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

The longest run at Squaw Valley is Mountain Run, a 3.2-mile intermediate trail that winds down to the base of the mountain. The Red Dog lift, at the base, delivers some tree skiing and riding opportunities, as well as a good ride down the intermediate Champs Elysees.

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

For the experts – KT-22 and Headwall are legendary for their jaw-dropping descents, steep chutes, moguls, cliffs and bowl skiing.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Terrain parks, Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Terrain parks, Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Squaw Valley has four terrain parks – Gold Coast, High Camp, Snow Ventures and Belmont – with 44 features between them.

Terrain parks, Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Terrain parks, Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Squaw Valley Ski Resort at Tahoe: On mountain dining & drinking

Squaw Valley has some amazing restaurants and bars, but we have to start this section with my favorite place on the mountain – a ski in/ski out Starbucks!

Squaw Valley Starbucks
Ski in / Ski out Starbucks, Squaw Valley Ski in-Ski out Starbucks
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Located at the top of the Funitel, it is one of the best places to grab a chai or latte and enjoy the view. Also at the top of the Funitel are Funi’s On-mountain Market for a quick sandwich, soups and Funi Crepes and The Arc, with assorted food stations offering soups, salads, pizzas, grilled fare, and Asian cuisine.

At High Camp, Silvey’s Cafe offers quick fare with paninis, soups, and snacks and the Terrace is a sit-down restaurant and bar that serves tasty lunch offerings with panoramic views.

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

The Village at Squaw Valley

The Village Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
The Village Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Village at Squaw Valley’s 60 restaurants, bars, boutiques and art galleries provide a wide variety of shopping, dining and après ski options at the base of the mountain. Especially on weekends and holidays, the Village has a bustling, jovial and diverse atmosphere, where upscale Bay area residents mix with powder-seeking ski bums.

The Village Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
The Village Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Squaw Valley Ski Resort: Other activities

In addition to the world-class skiing, the resort has numerous other activities to enjoy during a stay at Squaw Valley including:

The Tram at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
The Tram at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A scenic ride on the Aerial Tram, climbing 2,000 vertical feet to High Camp at 8,200 ft elevation, can be enjoyed year round by skiers and non-skiers alike.

At High Camp, the Olympic Ice Pavilion offers ice skating with panoramic views for adults and children. Hockey or figure skate rentals are available at the rink.

Ice skating, Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Ice skating, Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Snow tubing is located at SnoVentures Activity Zone at the base area of Squaw Valley near the parking lot. A popular activity, tubing tickets are limited per session and sold on first come, first served basis. Also at Squaw Valley’s SnoVentures Activity Zone, kids ages 6-12 can take a mini snowmobile for a whirl around the mini snowmobile course.

Snowshoeing on Squaw Valley’s trail system is a fabulous way to explore nature in the Olympic Valley. The Nordic Center rents snowshoes for adults and kids and snowshoe trails originate at the Resort at Squaw Creek.

High Camp pool & hot tub, Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
High Camp pool & hot tub, Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

And, that’s just a start. Also available are dog sledding, climbing walls, visiting the Olympic Museum, taking a dip in the High Camp pool & hot tub (seasonal), bungee skyjumping, and yoga.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort at Tahoe: Where to stay

The Village at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
The Village at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Squaw Valley has a variety of lodging options including the Village at Squaw Valley, Squaw Valley Lodge, Plumpjack Squaw Valley Inn, and the Resort at Squaw Valley. Additionally, hotels are available in Tahoe City and Truckee, with each town located about 12 miles away.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort at Tahoe: Getting there and parking

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

Located off Highway 89, between Truckee and Tahoe City, on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley is just 47 miles from the Reno Tahoe airport, 96 miles from Sacramento and 196 miles from San Francisco. From Highway 80, take the CA-89 S (exit 185) exit and continue on Highway 89 for about 10 miles. Turn right on Squaw Valley Road.

Free parking is available next to the Village, with a short walk to the Funitel.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort: Know before you go

Ski conditioning will make your ski vacation more enjoyable.  Some time in the gym and/or using a ski conditioning program before your ski vacation will improve your time on the slopes.

Don’t ski above your ability. Warren Miller films have been shot at Squaw Valley – and extreme is really extreme here. Watching a film while throwing back a beer is one thing; hiking a ridge and heading down one of Squaw’s steeps is something else. There are many expert skiers and riders at Squaw – they aren’t on vacation. Don’t get caught up in it all, overdo it and put yourself and others at risk.

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

Dress in layers. Consider skiing with a small backpack for storing layers as the day moves from cold to warmer temperatures and also take gloves of various weights and hand warmers. Mountain conditions can change from warm to cold and back again quickly. Another option – day use lockers are available at the top of the Funitel, providing easy access throughout the day without going all the way down to the base.

Rent gear. Renting provides a good chance to try out new skis or boards and simplifies travel, especially in airports.

Consider hiring transportation to the mountain. Squaw Valley has so many restaurants and activities, a car isn’t really needed. Hiring transportation lets you enjoy the scenery as a professional navigates the weather and road conditions that can change quickly in the Sierra. If you choose to drive, remember that chains are required frequently on Highway 80 and Highway 89 and be sure to check the road conditions at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) before heading to Squaw Valley.

Kim Hull at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Kim Hull at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California

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

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe: A great destination resort

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


Originally known as The Timber Farm near Truckee, California on the north side of Lake Tahoe, skiing first began at Northstar Resort in 1972. Acquired by Vail Resorts in 2010, Northstar California has fabulous skiing, luxury accommodations, the beautiful Village at Northstar at the foot of the mountain, and plenty of things to do for the non-skiers in the group – making it truly a great destination resort.

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

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe: Skiing and snow boarding

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

With 100 trails and 3,170 skiable acres, Northstar has something for all abilities with 13% beginner terrain, 60% intermediate and 27% advanced.

At an elevation of 8,610 feet (2,624 meters) at the summit of Mt. Pluto, Northstar has a vertical drop of 2,280 ft (695 meters) to the Village at the base of the mountain (elevation 6,330 ft/1,929 meters). The longest run on the mountain is Logger’s Loop, which is 1.4 miles long.

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While Northstar’s average snowfall is 350 inches (9 meters), 50% of Northstar’s trails are covered with snowmaking capabilities, the most in North Lake Tahoe and a good safeguard for a skiing vacation in non-El Nino years.

Northstar is very easy to navigate and well laid-out. Following a short gondola ride from the Village to mid-mountain, there are three lifts providing access to different sections of the mountain, with a total of 20 lifts overall.

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Kim Hull, Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At the summit, the East Ridge (blue) is to the left when exiting the chair lift, offering amazing views of Lake Tahoe and leading to multiple short, fun black runs off the left and a variety of blues at the end of the trail.

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

A hard right from the lift takes you to West Ridge (blue) which heads to a mix of longer blue and black tree-lined trails, with some nice mogul runs as well.

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

Straight ahead and slightly to the right off the summit leads to the backside of the mountain, which are all black runs that are serviced by the Backside Express lift.

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

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe: On mountain dining

In addition to a variety of restaurants and bars in the Village, dining and drinking options can be found at multiple places on the mountain.

The Lodge at Big Springs is located mid-mountain at the top of the gondola with a full bar and serving a variety of lunch options including grilled items, salads, pizza, and baked potatoes (the California baked potato is a personal favorite of ours). Next door is Chilly Peppers Cantina serving burritos, tacos, and other hearty Mexican dishes. Both restaurants are adjacent to a large deck just steps from the Vista Express, Arrow Express, and Tahoe Zephyr Express lifts, a very popular place on the mountain, especially on sunny days.

The Zephyr Lodge is located at the top of the Tahoe Zephyr Express and is the spot for seasonal, local-inspired dishes, crafted cocktails and phenomenal panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

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

At the top of Mt. Pluto, the Summit Deck & Grille serves breakfast and lunch and has a large selection of craft beers.

Euro Snack stands can be found at various locations on the mountain and in the Villages offering Belgian waffles, French hot dogs, and hot and cold beverages.

Northstar Ski School & Burton Snowboard Academy

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Northstar’s Ski + Snowboard School offers lessons for skiers of all levels, from day one beginners to advanced using the Northstar Teaching System to ensure teaching styles and methods are consistent from one instructor to another.

Northstar partnered with Burton Snowboards to develop the Burton Snowboard Academy, a first-of-its-kind snowboard program for all levels designed around a terrain-based teaching methodology. The program is a “full-immersion snowboard experience” and includes access to the Burton Snowboard Academy Village and Mid-Mountain Lounge.

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Village at Northstar

Located at the base of the mountain, The Village at Northstar is a collection of restaurants, wine bars, cafes, shops and activities including a skating rink and outdoor couches with fire pits.

Surrounded by luxury lodging accommodations, spa, yoga and massage services are available as well as movies at the Village Cinemas.

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe: Other activities

In addition to skiing and snowboards, Northstar offers…

Tubing, located mid-mountain just above the gondola, with a tow lift for tubes and riders to the top of a 200 ft hill. Be sure and book early – space is limited and frequently sells out.

The Cross Country, Telemark + Snowshoe Center with classic and skate skiing, snowshoeing, and telemark skiing on 22 miles (35 kilometers) of groomed, scenic trails.

Summer Village activities that include roller skating, miniature golf, a bungee trampoline and rock wall climbing.

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

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe: Where to stay

Multiple accommodation options are available in the Northstar Village area including Northstar Lodge, Great Bear Lodge, Iron Horse, Catamount, Big Horn, One Village Place, Northstar Lodge Hyatt Club Residences and the Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe.

Additionally, Northstar is located approximately 6 miles from the town of Truckee, California with a variety of hotel options.

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe: Getting there and parking

Northstar California’s resort address is 5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee, CA 96161.

Northstar is located 44 miles or about 53 minutes from the Reno Tahoe airport in Reno, 194 miles from Francisco and 111 miles from Sacramento.

From Highway 80, take the CA-89/CA-267 exit toward Sierraville/Lake Tahoe. Turn right onto CA-Hwy 267. Continue for 5.5 miles, then turn on Northstar Drive.

Free parking is available in two lots with shuttle bus access to the Village. The parking is quite a distance from the Village – you definitely want to wait for the shuttle.

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe: Know before you go

Hit the gym before the slopes. Time in the gym before you head to the hill will greatly improve the enjoyment of your ski vacation. Check out the ski conditioning program a personal trainer put together for us for ideas.

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.

Rent gear. Having done it more than a few times, we can attest that hauling loads of ski gear through an airport is not a fun task. Check into renting gear instead of bringing gear with you. Renting can also provide a good chance to try out new skis or boards.

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 267. Check out the road conditions at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) before heading to Northstar or better, higher transportation, so you can relax and enjoy the trip.


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Kim Hull, Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
WoolX, Lake Tahoe

From midweight to heavyweight in 24 hours at Lake Tahoe

Cover: Kim & Greg Hull hiking Lake Tahoe
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


While many were readying their superhero attire and prepping for Halloween shindigs, we headed to Lake Tahoe on October 31 for some fall hiking.

Although the day started out a bit chilly, as the sun rose, the day warmed into the upper 60s, perfect for a last fall hike before El Niño arrives in the Sierra for what we hope to be a phenomenal winter of Lake Tahoe skiing.

Lake Tahoe’s Eagle Falls

Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

One of the prettiest places you can hike can be found on the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe at Eagle Falls above Emerald Bay. A popular spot for South Lake Tahoe visitors, the Eagle Falls Loop and Eagle Falls Lake hikes offer stunning views of both Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains.

Emerald Bay is located about 10 miles north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89. Parking can be found along the highway just outside the trailhead or in the Eagle Falls trailhead lot for a small fee. On the weekends and throughout the summer, Eagle Falls can be very crowded and the highway is busy and fast, so use extreme care when walking near the roadway. The Eagle Loop is a short, bi-directional trail that involves quite a bit of climbing up and down stairs constructed by the park.

Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

For the Eagle Lake trail, a self-serve wilderness permit must be obtained at the trailhead. Once past the bridge, the trail involves climbing another stone staircase before leveling off, with Eagle Lake just ahead.

Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Eagle Falls, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While the waterfalls are at their peak in the spring, the area is beautiful in the summer and fall as well. Bring a lunch, find a quiet spot and marvel at nature at her finest.

WoolX, Lake Tahoe
Hiking at Lake Tahoe
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From midweight to heavyweight in 24 hours

For our late fall hike, we both wore midweight WoolX tops which were perfect with temperatures beginning at 47°F then warming to 67°F by midday.

So comfortable, WoolX clothing is made from the softest Merino wool with just a bit of stretch, so it both performs well and keeps you warm. After trying out several WoolX styles about a year ago, we loved their clothing so much we joined on as Brand Ambassadors. Now four seasons in, we live in WoolX year round. It looks great, fits great, and is washable and dryable – as in, you can put it in the dryer and it doesn’t shrink.

For hiking and skiing, we both are fans of the 1/4 zip, which is super comfortable, stylish and keeps you functioning at top performance.

From midweight to heavyweight in 24 hours at Lake TahoeThings change fast around here – we went from midweight on October 31st to heavyweight by November 1st.

Whoa! That must have been some Halloween candy-fest. Granted, while trick-or-treat candy dispensing (in my stylish black WoolX tunic) also resulted in quite a bit of M&M consumption, the fall days of October hiking at Lake Tahoe turned to snow by the next morning, as the first significant winter storm brought a covering of white to the Sierra.

Luckily, WoolX comes in multiple weights to accommodate the changing seasons as well.

November 2014 snow forecast#Winter is Here

Time to tune the skis, kick the ski conditioning into high gear, and pull out the heavyweight WoolX. Actually, midweight tops and base layers are perfect for skiing on bluebird days, but the heavyweight line is super for cold, blustery January days.

Either way, we’re covered – let it snow!


Disclosure & disclaimer: As brand ambassadors for WoolX, we receive product samples for evaluation and are not otherwise financially compensated by this sponsor. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Best of Reno Tahoe: Squaw Valley
Squaw Valley
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Best of Reno / Tahoe

Best of Reno and Tahoe

Cover: Lake Tahoe
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Located in northwestern Nevada and northeastern California, the Lake Tahoe and Reno region offers luxury hotels, innovative restaurants, events, outdoor activities, world-class skiing and, on the Nevada side of the lake, casinos. With an average of 274 days of sunshine, the Tahoe area is truly a year-round destination.

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

Because the Reno and Lake Tahoe covers so much area and has so many diverse activities, it can be challenging to get your arms around it all, so we’ve divided the area into sections to help with your lodging, dining and activity planning.

Mt Rose Ski Tahoe at sunset
Mt Rose Ski Tahoe at sunset Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The California-Nevada state line runs down the center of Lake Tahoe. Most locals segment the area by the north side of the lake and the south. All areas are normally accessible from Reno within a 45 minute to 1 1/2 drive or from the San Francisco area in 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Reno

Best of Reno Tahoe: Reno
Reno, Nevada Photo: Kim Hull , Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

“The Biggest Little City in the World” is where most visitors arrive by plane if headed to Reno or Tahoe and, even if driving to the Tahoe area, Reno is a great place to spend a few days enjoying the hotels, casinos, and restaurants. Where to stay in Reno? We recommend The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.

Best of Reno / Tahoe: Great Reno Balloon Race
Great Reno Balloon Race
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Reno is home to countless events throughout the year, including the Great Reno Balloon Race, Reno National Championship Air Races, and Hot August Nights.

Best of Reno / Tahoe: Reno Air Races
Reno Air Races
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Downtown Reno is a lot like downtown Vegas, but less crowded. The casinos may have different names – Eldorado, the Silver Legacy and Harrah’s Reno – but the style and feel is very similar. The Truckee River Walk runs through the middle of downtown Reno and is a good place to take a mid-day stroll or grab a bite in one of the restaurants along the river.

Midtown District is just south of downtown and the home of some of Reno’s coolest restaurants, bars, and shops. Not to be missed – Midtown Eats, Death and Taxes and the very quirky, Junkee Clothing Exchange.

Atlantis Casino Resort Spa
Atlantis Casino Resort Spa
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In Central Reno and the airport area are the three big hotels in Reno – the Atlantis, which is connected by a walkway to the Reno Convention Center, the Grand Sierra Resort (GSR) and the Peppermill. Meadowood Mall is also located in the area with 100 shops and restaurants including Macy’s, The Cheesecake Factory and JC Penney.

In South Reno, Reno’s newest shopping center, The Summit, is located at Virginia Street and Mount Rose Highway with Dillards, Lululemon, Apple, and more.

North Lake Tahoe

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

Easily accessible off of I-80, North Lake Tahoe is a popular destination for both short getaways and longer stays.

Reno - North Lake Tahoe map
Reno – North Lake Tahoe map

The Incline Village area on the Nevada side of the lake has relaxing beaches, resorts, casinos, great hiking & mountain biking trails, and two skiing options, Diamond Peak Ski Area and Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe.

From the Reno-Tahoe International airport to…
Incline Village is 33 miles or about 45 minutes
Mt Rose Ski Tahoe is 22 miles or about 30 minutes

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Nevada Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The very laid back King’s Beach area is just across the California border on the north side of Lake Tahoe, with a long beachfront, shops, restaurants and a variety of outdoor activity vendors including kayaking and paddleboarding. NorthStar ski resort is just 5 miles away.

Kings Beach, Lake Tahoe
Kings Beach, Lake Tahoe Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From the Reno-Tahoe International airport to…
King’s Beach is 37 miles or about 55 minutes
Northstar Ski Resort is 44 miles or about 53 minutes

Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California
Northstar Ski Resort at Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Truckee is a charming town of galleries, wine bars, restaurants and shops that sits in the center of Tahoe activities. Skiing at Squaw Alpine, Northstar, Sugar Bowl or Boreal is just a few miles away and in the summer, there’s no shortage of fishing, swimming, golfing, biking and hiking available.

From the Reno-Tahoe International airport to Truckee is 37 miles or about 41 minutes.

Uncorked wine bar, Truckee, California
Uncorked wine bar, Truckee, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tahoe City is a beautiful town filled with boutiques, galleries, waterfront restaurants, and a wide assortment of water activities. Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows ski resort, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, is only 10 miles away and Homewood Ski Resort is also nearby with spectacular lake views.

Best of Reno / Tahoe: Tahoe City, California
Best of Reno / Tahoe: Tahoe City, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From the Reno-Tahoe International airport to…
Tahoe City is 54 miles or about 1 hour 6 minutes
Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows are 47 miles or about 1 hour 7 minutes

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

South Lake Tahoe

Moving to the southern end of the Lake, the activities continue with all Lake Tahoe has to offer both outdoors and indoors.

South Lake Tahoe map
South Lake Tahoe map

What does South Lake Tahoe have to offer? Watersports, biking, hiking, fishing, gaming, golf, shopping, spas, nightlife, and, of course, skiing and snow sports at three nearby resorts.

Madeline, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Madeline, Heavenly Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From the Reno-Tahoe International airport to…
Stateline is 56 miles or about 1 hour 4 minutes
Heavenly Ski Resort is 58 miles or about 1 hour 8 minutes
Sierra-at-Tahoe is 74 miles or about 1 hour 35 minutes
Kirkwood is 78  miles or about 1 hour 28 minutes

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

Best of Reno / Lake Tahoe


The Perfect Day at Lake Tahoe © Chasing Light Media


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