California Travel Articles
Lake Tahoe Area Ski Resorts 1/2By Eric Morgan
With more than 100 lifts, 500 runs and 17,000 skiable acres, few places on earth can compete with the overwhelming skiing and snowboarding experiences at Lake Tahoe. Indeed, Lake Tahoe boasts the greatest concentration of ski areas in North America. For serious winter enthusiasts, the dilemma isn’t whether or not to make a trip to Lake Tahoe – it’s where to ski or board once they get there!
South Lake Tahoe, California
If you’re looking for superior scenic beauty, jaw-dropping views of Lake Tahoe, and world-class ski runs, you need look no further than Heavenly, located in atmospheric Lake Tahoe. At 4,800 acres, Heavenly is the largest resort in California and boasts the state’s longest vertical drop at 3,500 feet. With nearly 300 days of California sunshine and over 350 inches of average yearly snowfall, Heavenly offers its skiers and snowboarders an experience unlike any other resort. And on those rare occasions when snow is scarce, Heavenly relies on its snowmaking system, the West Coast’s largest and most powerful – in fact, it’s powerful enough to cover 70 percent of its trails in machine-made now. This winter playground offers visitors 95 trails ranging from wide-open cruisers to plunging 1,200 foot chutes and 30 ski lifts, 9 of which are high-speed. And snowboarders feel right at home on this mountain; the entire resort is open to boarders and both sides of the mountain have a terrain park and halfpipes positioned near lifts for easy access with complete snowboard service stations located nearby.
This year’s improvements to the resort are significant; Heavenly has invested nearly $15 million in upgrades, making it no surprise that Heavenly was recently named among the top 15 ski resorts in SKI Magazine’s “Top 60 Resort Guide.” Olympic Express, the resort’s newest ski lift, shuttles skiers and snowboarders to four new runs. Beginners are in for as much excitement as experienced skiers and snowboarders. Heavenly has created a new Ski School Sales & Adventure center in the heart of Heavenly Village. Guests take advantage of a private learning area in a secluded meadow, an area dedicated solely to beginners. Skiers and boarders of all experience levels can also take advantage of Heavenly Ski School’s internationally known professional instructional staff by participating in group or private lessons, specialty clinics, or adventure packages. And for those visitors opting for a different type of adrenaline rush, the Heavenly Sky Flyer at Adventure Peak offers a thrilling view and spine-tingling excitement. The elevated zip cable ride drops riders from the top of Tamarack Express to the top of the gondola – a vertical drop of 525 feet at nearly 50 miles an hour.
Guests at Heavenly can choose from a multitude of ski and stay packages and lodging options in the area, including hotels, motels, condos and bed & breakfasts. Heavenly has partnered with many of these properties to offer special rates to skiers and snowboarders. The Lake Tahoe area offers lodging for every type of visitor. Casino enthusiasts can stay at the Horizon Casino Resort located on Lake Tahoe’s south shore and just minutes from Heavenly. For those looking for suites with countless amenities and a “home-away-from-home” can choose Tahoe Season Resort, which offers one-bedroom suites with private spas, refrigerators, microwaves, fireside lounges and game rooms. Numerous condominiums and bed and breakfasts offer an alternative to hotels and casinos for those looking for a more home-like experience.
Heavenly’s 2007-2008 season runs from November 16 – April 23. Heavenly offers a wide variety of ticket prices and options to fit your needs. Pre-purchasing tickets can save you money and allow you to earn points with ticket, ski school and dining purchases. Adult two-passes begin at $128 early in the season and vary in price depending upon the time and length of your visit.
North Lake Tahoe, California
Rated one of North America’s top resorts by Skiing, SKI, and Transworld Snowboarding magazines, Alpine Meadows towers over North Lake Tahoe with a summit of 8,637 feet and a base of 6,835 feet. Skiers and snowboarders are whisked up the majestic mountain on one of 13 lifts, including one high-speed detachable six-passenger chair, two high-speed express quads. The resort’s terrain serves beginners through experts and over 100 designated runs. The mountain’s snowmaking machines cover a network of runs served by 11 of the resort’s lifts. The skiing and snowboarding options at this resort are endless, sprawling across a diverse terrain on two mountains covered by winding trails through alpine trees, deep powder bowls, and unmarked runs.
Snowshoers and hikers enjoy Alpine Meadows alongside snowboarders and skiers. Alpine offers marked trails that meander through old-growth forests near the base of the mountain, and Alpine’s Adventure Zones provide an experience similar to hiking in the backcountry. Alpine Meadows takes its responsibility to the environment seriously and participates in several proactive environmental projects, including biodiesel fuel usage, native plant revegetation projects and extensive recycling. The Resort also sells SkiGreen tags for $2 each throughout the resort. Each purchase is a contribution which equates to 150 miles of not driving a car or of preventing 140 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere.
Skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels take advantage of the Alpine Meadow’s special interest clinics including the Early Season Warm-Up, Women’s Clinics and Men’s Clinics. Alpine’s High Adventure Tours, new for the 2008 season, offers advanced skiers and boarders the unique opportunity to experience off-boundary trails and runs and includes lunch and shuttle transportation from the main lodge to the remote areas. For visitors interested in testing the newest in winter sports equipment, Alpine Meadows offers a high-performance demonstrative equipment program. Children aren’t left out of the fun at this resort; an entire terrain park is dedicated to kids, as well as an indoor play area, a parent’s lounge and specialized instruction for the mountain’s youngest visitors. The mountain’s Family Ski Zone offers visitors a place to ski at a slower pace than other runs, allowing beginning skiers and boarders a place to develop confidence and skills before hitting the open trails.
Alpine Meadows partners with over 150 lodging partners in the Tahoe and Reno area in order to offer unbeatable ski and stay packages that allow visitors to choose from participating lodges, inns, hotels and motels. Packages at the Hilton, for instance start at just $240, while the Granlibakken Resort and Conference Center offers hotel-style rooms, studios, suites and townhouses starting at just $109. Customized packages are also available.
Alpine Meadow’s typical season runs from mid-November to late May, weather and snow conditions permitting. Ticket prices range from daily rates of $58 for an adult to $63 during holiday dates. For skiers and snowboarders planning more than one day of skiing, the Resort offers multi-day passes to save visitors money.
North Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Diamond Peak’s focus on intermediate trails and its breathtaking scenery set it apart from other Tahoe resorts. Its elevation tops out at an awe-inspiring 8,540 feet and it boasts over 650 acres of skiable terrain. The mountains have 30 named trails, plus open bowls and tree skiing areas. The longest run is approximately 2.5 miles. Diamond Peak’s gentle slopes and high proportion of beginner and intermediate trails makes for the perfect location for new skiers and snowboarders to perfect their skills. The resort offers several packages that include multiple lessons for guests to take advantage of; and expert skiers aren’t left out of the loop. Private and group lessons are available for those skiers and snowboarders looking to brush up on their technique and ski/board with some of the best instructors in the industry. The Resort has kept up with industry leaders by replacing its 30-year-old lifts with high-speed quads chairs; upgrading its snowmaking machines; and renovating its buildings and lodges. After a full day of skiing or snowboarding, guests take in the panoramic view of the Sierras at the recently remodeled Snowflake mid-mountain lodge.
Similar to other resorts in the area, Diamond Peak partners with area properties to offer great savings on Ski & Stay packages that meet every budget. These range from $65 to $1,500 per person per night. Popular locations include Parkside Inn at Incline Village, one of the closest hotels to Diamond Peak, and Goldfish Properties at Incline Village, a resort that offers lakeview rooms and discounted lift tickets.
Lift tickets for adults are $48. Diamond Peak offers money-saving values with the Family & Friends Lift Ticket Packages and the Mini Pass, an alternative to a full-season pass.
South Lake Tahoe, California
Avid skiers and the top ski magazine in the industry can’t be wrong. Ski Magazine ranked Kirkwood the 8th best resort for snow quality among all North American resorts and put the resort on the cover of the October 2007 issue. With over 2,300 skiable acres, half of which are intermediate runs, skiers and snowboarders of all levels will feel welcome and challenged. Twelve lifts whisk guests up the mountain’s elevation of 9,800 feet and over 65 groomed run lead skiers and snowboarders back down the mountain. Private and group lessons are available for children and adults, as well as guided adventure tours that introduce guests to the mountain’s more untamed areas. One of the resort’s more unique offerings is its three-and four-day ski training courses through the North American Ski Training Center. These courses combine ski instruction with backcountry skills.
A number of lodging options are available in the Kirkwood Valley, including Meadowstone Lodge, The Lodge at Kirkwood, Lost Cabin, Snowcrest Lodge, Base Camp, The Meadows and many, many more. All offer a variety of rooms and suites to meet every budget. Dining options also abound at Kirkwood; guests enjoy everything from a quick and affordable lunch at Red Cliffs Lodge to fine dining at Off the Wall Bar & Grill in The Lodge at Kirkwood.
For non-skiers, Kirkwood offers an array of activities including ice skating, tubing, snowshoeing, dog sled rides, ice fishing and snowmobile tours, just to name a few. Families interested in child care programs need look no further than Kirkwood’s Mini Mountain, a fully licensed child care center with professional supervision and indoor and outdoor activities. Another option is Children’s Ski & Snowboard School, a program that combines fun with skill development in a dedicated terrain park with its own lift. With every amenity and luxury you would expect from a world-class ski resort, Kirkwood is truly a self-contained paradise.
About the Author: To find out more about skiing and snowboarding packages at lake tahoe please visit Lake Tahoe Ski Resort - Heavenly.