Lake Tahoe is one of the best ski destinations on the planet offering a wide variety of world class ski resorts, plentiful snow, sunny days, and a variety of off slope fun. Whether you’re looking for deep powder, extreme cornices, cliffs or chutes, exceptional groomed runs, scenic vistas, or a family vacation Tahoe offers it all.
Lake Tahoe is often overlooked as a powder mecca, but it’s a powder hound playground often blessed with storm systems that drop 1 to 5 feet of snow in any given 24-48 hour cycle. Tahoe has a reputation of “Sierra Cement” vs. Champagne Powder, but that’s a bit simplified. Storms usually start off a bit on the warm side, but typically cool down to 10 degrees on their finish. This offers superior powder skiing as the warm snow smooths out the moguls, and hard pack underneath and leaves a smooth finish and bottomless feel to the snow. This is in contrast to Utah where they get ultra dry snow that is unable to smooth out the old snow layer and you often bottom out and feel the bumps and ice below.
When the sun comes out, which is most days – the temperatures start around 15 degrees and warm up to 30-40 degrees by mid-day. This makes for an incredible beach like atmosphere of people having fun in the sun without the frostbite, face masks, and hand warmers. If you enjoy great snow, sun decks, and smiling faces Tahoe is worth checking out.
Lake Tahoe’s Top 10 Resorts
There are 4 distinct areas to stay while in Tahoe including South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City, Incline, and Truckee, each offering its own unique vibe and access to great resorts. Plus most of the top resorts offer ski-in / ski out skiing if you prefer the direct access and enjoy staying right at the resort. The best developed ski in / ski out villages are South Lake near the tram, Squaw Valley Village, and the Northstar Village.
South Lake Tahoe: If you love the nightlife and excitement of the casino’s plus easy access to Heavenly Valley; South Lake is a great place to make your home base. You can also access the renowned steep and deep terrain of Kirkwood, or the family friendly atmosphere of Sierra at Tahoe with a 45 min shuttle ride. If you have non-skiers in your party, this is the best destination in the region. You can take scenic boat rides across the lake, snowmobile, go tubbing, cross country ski, or just enjoy the beauty of the lake. There’s a myriad of dining options, and no shortage of nightlife to get you into the vacation mode.
Tahoe City: This is one of the more festive ski towns in the region with great shops, restaurants, and easy access to Squaw / Alpine, Northstar, and Homewood. You will need to rent a car, but that also opens up options to ski multiple resorts throughout the Tahoe region. You can access just about every resort within an hours drive, and it’s only minutes to local North Tahoe resorts.
Incline Village: At Incline you get a little bit of all worlds with a bit more laid back feel than South Lake Tahoe. You’ll get the casino’s and quick access skiing to Mt Rose and Diamond Peak. Also with a 30 min drive you can access Northstar, Squaw / Alpine, and Homewood providing you with a wide variety of skiing options.
Truckee: Like Tahoe City, Truckee is a true ski town with some one of the best ski shops in the nation – Granite Chief. There’s a great vibe, upscale restaurants, wine bars, and easy access to Squaw / Alpine, Northstar, Sugar Bowl, and Boreal. This is also the easiest destination to reach from the Reno / Tahoe airport making it convenient for those flying in.