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Get Your Skis Ready for Lake Tahoe!

Updated on December 8, 2009
One of the panoramic vistas
One of the panoramic vistas
A ski run
A ski run

Choices, Choices and More Choices

 Few will dispute that California does have one of the premier ski resort areas on the West Coast and in the world at Lake Tahoe.

For those living in the Northern California area, it is only a 2-4 hr drive, close enough for a day trip. What makes Lake Tahoe so "heavenly" is its deep blue crystal clear lake at 7000 ft. Its not really a lake, it is a small sea being 17 miles long and 10 wide. There is NOTHING so majestic, God-like, than taking your ski lift to the top and simply gazing the Alp-like panoramas that the mountains make around this lake. Even foreigners from the Alpen area are startled by its stunning beauty. One never tires of looking it from this vantage point.

There are two highways used to get there, either Interstate 80 going to Reno, this takes you to the north shore of the lake, or the smaller, two lane Highway 50, which takes you to the south end and to South Lake Tahoe city which borders Nevada. Planning a ski trip needs to take this into consideration.

Where to Ski

Here is the list. Note, depending on your budget and length of stay, any of the resorts will provide you with great skiing and panoramic  vistas. Remember, that ticket prices are just for the lift, if you do not have skis, that is extra to rent.

1. Alpine Meadows has 15 lifts at 6800 ft. Summit is 8600 ft, 2300 acres. The runs are 25% beginner, 40% intermediate, 35% adv. Ph: 530-583-4232

2. Boreal has 9 lifts at 7200 ft, summit is 7700 ft. 380 acres. This is a great park, why? it is right off Hwy 80, I mean, you just pull over. It is superb for beginners and intermediate, as 85% of their runs are for them. They also have a unique ski at night and snowboarding run. Prices are $50 for adults, teen is $40, kids to 12 yr, $15. 530-426-3666

3. Diamond Peak has 6 lifts at 6700 ft. Summit is 8500 ft. The park as 655 acres. This park is the opposite of Boreal, their runs are 85% for intermediate and advanced. Ticket prices are similar to Boreal. 775-832-1177

4.Donner Ski Ranch is a family owned resort and less traveled. It has  6 lifts at 7000 ft and very close to I-80 also. It is one of the cheapest with tickets only at $42 for adult, $34 for teen, and $13 for kids BUT on Tues, Wed, Thursdays cost is a mere $22 for adults!! 530-426-3635

5. Granlibakken is small with only two lifts at 6300 ft. This park is really for beginners and Intermediates only, prices are cheap at $21 for adults and $14 for others. It is limiting. 530-581-7333

6. Homewood is on the west side of the lake and really is an excellent choice from the higher end resorts like Northstar or Heavenly. It has 8 lifts at 6200 ft, summit is 7800 ft., on 1200 acres. This is a great intermediate resort with 50% of the runs at that level. I've skied there many times and it is great. Go to the top for some inspiring vistas of the lake! Tickets are around $40. 530-525-2992

7. Kirkwood has 12 lifts and 2300 acres at 7800 ft. The summit it has is 9800 ft! The park is for intermediate and advanced with 85% of the runs for them. Prices are $74 for adults. 209-258-6000.

8. Northstar is very popular, expect crowds, delays. It has 19 lifts at 6300 ft. Summit is 8600 ft. Over 3000 acres. It is geared for the Intermediate, with 60% of the runs. It is a high end resort with prices at $80 for adults, teens at $69, kids at $30. There are hotels and restaurants that are there at the resort also. 800-go north

9. Squaw Valley was the home of the 1960 Olympics, so it is like #8 in popularity and in prices. Unlike #8, the park offers an equal amount of runs for all levels and has 33 lifts at 6700 ft. Its summit is 9000 ft! 530-583-6955

10. Soda Springs is a great park for the whole family, just as Homewood is. Trouble is, it is tiny with only 2 lifts at 6700 ft and 200 acres, with 30% for beginners and 50% for intermediate skiers. Prices reflect it at only $30 for adults, $25 for teens, kids $20. The park does have a large variety of sports: ski, tube, snowboard, snow mobile. Kids under  42 inches even have their "special" ski area! Sweet. 530-426-3901

11. Sugar Bowl is the oldest resorts being 70 this year! It is located at Donner Summit, 8300 ft. It has 1500 acres and 13 lifts at 6800 ft. Geared for the Intermediate and expert as it has 85% runs for them. Prices are $66 for adults, $56 teens, $20 12 or less. 530-426-9000.

12. Heavenly is a ditto of #8 and 9, above. Very popular because it is sooo close to South Lake Tahoe city. Always crowded and prices are pricey, so takes a lot of cash. The resort has 29 lifts at 6400 ft on 4800 acres. It really is for the intermediate and adv. level skier. Awesome views, but that is what you are paying for. This resort is only a ski resort, no hotels or restaurants here, just go to town for that. Parking is a pain. Limited. 800-2heaven

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