From scorched desert landscapes to snowy pine forests, huge glitzy casinos to cosy log cabins; the ski resorts of Lake Tahoe and its surrounding area are an unrivalled realm of contrasts.
The area is blessed with an average of 11 metres of snow and over 300 days of sunshine every year, so ski conditions aren’t bad either.
In this post we explore the Lake Tahoe area, looking in detail at two largest resorts of Heavenly and Squaw Valley.
Resort Height 1,962m
Flight time London – San Francisco: 10 hr 55 mins
Transfer time San Francisco – Lake Tahoe: 3 hr 30 mins
Lake Tahoe in the US straddles two states; Nevada and California.
The Lake Tahoe ski area is home to a staggering 17,000 acres of skiable terrain, 535 slopes and 20 terrain parks spread over seven resorts. Best of all; one lift pass covers them all.
As well as downhill skiing, both resorts also offer cross-country skiing, snow-mobiling, snow tubing, ice skating, snow-shoeing, and dog sledding.
One major aspect that sets Lake Tahoe ski holidays apart from any other are the off-mountain activities.
In the resorts of Lake Tahoe, hot air ballooning, helicopter rides, and bathing in natural hot springs are all available.
Dining options cater to a range of budgets and tastes, while steaks and ribs are typical, international cuisine is also on offer.
The nearby 24 hour party city of Reno has a choice of casinos, bars and clubs to entertain and amaze, plus exceedingly extravagant accommodation for anyone wanting to stay over.
And San Francisco, at just over 3 hours drive is further away, but makes a fantastic add-on to a ski holiday.
Heavenly, on the south shore, sits almost directly on the state line. The village has, therefore, an air of Californian cool mixed with the neon lights of Nevada, all with fantastic views across the spectacular Lake Tahoe.
Heavenly is an ideal resort for beginner level skiers thanks to its gentle runs and friendly ski instructors.
It caters to those at a more advanced level too – with slopes such as the Gunbarrel (on the Californian side) which is a spectacularly tricky mogul-tastic double black diamond. Heavenly has been chosen to host the next U.S. Freestyle Championships for seasons 2012-13 and 2013-14.
The Gunbarrel piste has been selected to host the mogul event, described by Heavenly’s general manager Pete Sonntag as “the most iconic moguls run in North America… It’s the ultimate challenge for America’s top freestyle skiers.”
Staying at Harvey’s Casino Hotel in Heavenly gives you close access to the gondola in town, luxurious accommodation, a choice of restaurants and bars, access to a wide range of facilities including pool, steam room and hot tub, and access to the casino.
A great way to combine a ski holiday with the glitz of a casino!
On the opposite, north side of Lake Tahoe nestles the intimate village of Squaw Valley. Host to the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley has challenging runs ideal for intermediate and advanced skiers.
The U.S. Alpine National Championships will be held in Squaw Valley from March 17-23 in 2013.
For a truly lavish ski holiday The Resort at Squaw Creek at Squaw Valley is the place to stay. The ski-in ski-out accommodation even has its own chairlift!
A range of well-appointed, plush rooms are available with lounges and kitchens, there’s an outdoor pool, hot tubs, and top-class spa.
The hotel offers a range of food thanks to its deli, three restaurants, lounge, pub and shops. If there’s any chance you don’t find what you like here, there’s also a shuttle service to Squaw Village.
This post was written by Tess Bowles for Crystal Ski.