What to Do in North Lake Tahoe in the Winter

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Straddling the Sierra Nevada mountains in-between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe offers a pristine woodland dotted with sugar pines dripping in sparkling snow. And with more bluebird skies than any other area, explore the forests by, ski, sled, snowshoe or snowmobile. And Tahoe’s laid-back vibe enchants most so find everyone from bunny-suited ski babies to grandpa tackling the Tahoe powder. Read on for what to do in North Lake Tahoe in the winter.

Speedboat Beach North Lake Tahoe

Speedboat Beach North Lake Tahoe

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What to Do in North Lake Tahoe in the Winter

Lake Tahoe offers a dozen mountain resorts, a lake that never freezes along with the largest national forest outside of Alaska. It’s been a winter playground since the 1960 Winter Olympics. And it takes just one visit to be on a first-name basis. Forever calling it Tahoe.

Find scenery, sledding and snowmobile tours. Then horse-drawn sleigh rides, serious slopes, and fat bikes. And don’t forget about snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or ice skating. The après scene offers s’mores, cocktails and even some gambling.

Where to go Skiing at North Lake Tahoe

The best feature of Lake Tahoe is the number of ski resorts within an hour’s drive. Find 12 different resorts across the region. Though nine resorts lay on the north and west shore, including the resorts in the Truckee area. Skiing and snowboarding top the list of what to do in North Lake Tahoe in the winter.

Squaw Valley - North Lake Tahoe

Squaw Valley – North Lake Tahoe

Squaw Valley Ski Resort

If you’re limited on time. Head to the top and ski the best. And it’s even got a little sister next door.

Squaw Valley is a legendary resort that hosted the 1960 Olympic Games. It routinely listed as one of the top resorts. Its runs top lists too, like KT-22. It’s a bucket-list destination for skiers from around the world.

Squaw is the resort where locals take their friends when they want to ski big. A day at Squaw is a day kissing the clouds while the snow and the lake try to out sparkle each other.

You get mainly mountaintop skiing so check out the weather before heading out. And the winds can howl and temporarily shut down operations.

The Village offers lodging, restaurants and shopping along with plenty of close-in parking. And Squaw Valley is the best at handling traffic at peak times.

Located at 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, California. Squaw Valley and its sister resort, Alpine Meadows, can be skied the same day with the same lift pass and shuttle bus.

Squaw Valley Mountain Statistics

Base Elevation: 6,200 ft. Summit Elevation: 9,050 ft.
Vertical Drop: 2,850 ft. Skiable Acres: 3,600
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 25%
Blue 45%
Black 30%
Total Named Runs 170
Total Bowls 16
Total Terrain Parks 4
Lifts 29 total:1 aerial tram, 1 funitel, 1 high-speed 6-pack, 3 high-speed quads, 1 quad, 9 triples, 3 doubles, and 5 surface lifts
Alpine Meadows - North Lake Tahoe

Alpine Meadows – North Lake Tahoe

Alpine Meadows Ski Mountain

If the crowds are crushing your style at Squaw then head to Alpine Meadows. It offers some of the best of Squaw Valley, on a smaller scale.

As a bonus for the families, it’s green skiing is at the base of the mountain. Though find all the bowls on the backside of the mountain.

Located at 2600 Alpine Meadows Rd. in Alpine Meadows, California. Both resorts can be skied the same day with the same lift pass. Use the complimentary Squaw Alpine shuttle bus.

Alpine Meadows Mountain Statistics

Base Elevation: 6,835 ft. Summit Elevation: 8,637 ft.
Vertical Drop: 1,802 ft. Skiable Acres: 2,400
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 25%
Blue 40%
Black 35%
Total Named Runs 100
Total Bowls 7
Total Terrain Parks 2
Lifts 13 total:1 high-speed 6-pack, 3 high-speed quads, 2 fixed-grip triple chair, 5 fixed-grip double chair, and 2 surface lifts

 

Northstar - North Lake Tahoe

Northstar – North Lake Tahoe

NorthStar California Ski Resort

NorthStar California offers the premier program to learn how to ski or snowboard at Lake Tahoe. So it’s a haven for families during the school breaks.

Northstar offers a protected location keeping the wind at bay. Enjoy mountaintop skiing a gondola ride from The Village. And Northstar offers rental fat bikes along with trails.

The Village is the après hub. Packed with an ice rink, theatre, live music along with a slew of restaurants. Also find shopping along with indoor activities, guests can spend their entire ski vacation at Northstar.

Northstar Ski Resort is located at 5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee, California.

NorthStar California Mountain Statistics

Base Elevation: 6,330 ft. Summit Elevation: 8,610 ft.
Vertical Drop: 2,280 ft. Skiable Acres: 3,700
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 13%
Blue 60%
Black 27%
Total Named Runs 100
Total Terrain Parks 8
Lifts 20 total: 2 gondolas (1 express and 1 pulse), 1 high-speed 6-pack, 7 high-speed quads, 1 fixed-grip quad chair, 2 triple chairs, and 7 surface lifts

Mt Rose Ski Tahoe

With a base elevation of 8,260 feet, Mt Rose is the highest resort at Lake Tahoe. So it’s usually the first resort to open every year and the last to shut down.

And Mt Rose offers a big resort skiing at a value price point. That’s why it’s a favorite among locals. Find two areas to explore with their own parking and facilities.

Family skiers love the Enchanted Forest area and the Wild Horse Adventure. Both packed with lots of green runs that wind through a treed glade.

Daredevils head to the Winters Creek area for The Chute, a double black diamond area. Along with the Slide Bowl.

The lodge lacks luxury and much of an après scene. Though no traffic into Incline Village though down mountain to Reno can get slow.

Mt Rose Ski Tahoe is located in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest at 22222 Mt. Rose Hwy (Hwy 431) 25 minutes from Reno, Nevada.

Mt Rose Mountain Statistics

Base Elevation: 8,260 ft. Summit Elevation: 9,700 ft.
Vertical Drop: 1,800 ft. Skiable Acres: 1,200
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 20%
Blue 30%
Black and Double Black 50%
Total Named Runs: 60
Total Terrain Parks 6
Lifts: 8 total: 2 high-speed 6-pack, 2 fixed-grip quad chair, 2 fixed-grip triple chairs, and 2 surface lifts

 

Diamond Peak - North Lake Tahoe

Diamond Peak – North Lake Tahoe

Diamond Peak Ski Resort

Diamond Peak, another local’s favorite, sits in the heart of North Lake Tahoe’s Incline Village. Boasting some of the best views of the lake, it’s a must for a bluebird day. And it’s got one of the top vertical drops at Lake Tahoe.

Diamond Peak Ski Resort is located at 1210 Ski Way in Incline Village, Nevada. With limited parking at the resort, they use open-air trailers to shuttle skiers to the string of parking areas.

Diamond Peak Mountain Statistics

Base Elevation: 6,700 ft. Summit Elevation: 8,540 ft.
Vertical Drop: 1,840 ft. Skiable Acres: 655
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 18%
Blue 46%
Black 36%
Total Named Runs 30
Total Terrain Parks 1
Lifts 8 total: 1 high-speed detachable quad, 2 quad chairs and 3 doubles

Homewood Mountain Resort

Some come for the skiing, though the stand-out at this resort is the view of Lake Tahoe. It’s the best. And there’s even a ski boat charter from South Lake Tahoe.

It’s south of Tahoe City. It might be a bit far for those staying in Incline Village. Located at 5145 W. Lake Blvd. in Homewood, California.

Homewood Mountain Statistics

Base Elevation: 6,230 ft. Summit Elevation: 7,880 ft.
Vertical Drop: 1,650 ft. Skiable Acres: 750
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 15%
Blue 40%
Black and Double Black 45%
Total Named Runs 67
Total Terrain Parks 5
Lifts 8 total:1 high-speed quad, 1 fixed-grip triple chair, 1 J bar, 1 rope tow, and 2 surface lifts

Donner Ski Ranch

As one of the first ski resorts built in the region, it’s now the last family-owned resort left. So it’s got a bit of the nostalgic old Tahoe vibe.

This resort caters to the value-minded. And offers a convenient location off Interstate 80. Located at 19320 Donner Pass Road in Norden, California.

Donner Mountain Statistics

Base Elevation: 6,750 ft. Summit Elevation: 7,751 ft.
Vertical Drop: 750 ft. Skiable Acres: 505
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 25%
Blue 50%
Black and Double Black 25%
Total Named Runs 53
Lifts 6 total:1 fixed-grip triple chair, 5 fixed-grip double chair

Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort

Tahoe Donner is another intimate resort located in Truckee along the Interstate 80 corridor. As a part of a residential community, it’s got a locals vibe. Find terrain features as well.

Tahoe Donner is one of the few resorts to rent out fat bikes to ride at its resort by the day. Consult with the resort to see if the conditions are right for fat biking.

Located at 11603 Snowpeak Way in Truckee, California.

Tahoe Donner Mountain Statistics

Base Elevation: 6,750 ft. Summit Elevation: 7,350 ft.
Vertical Drop: 600 ft. Skiable Acres: 120
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 16%
Blue 60%
Black and Double Black 24%
Total Named Runs 17
Terrain Parks 2
Lifts 5 total:1 quad chair, 1 triple chair, 3 surface lifts

Granlibakken Tahoe

Back in 1928 Granlibakken-Tahoe opened for skiing and sledding at Lake Tahoe. A local hotel stayed open year-round so visitors could enjoy the Sierra snow.

The skiing operation is small compared with other resorts though the sled hill is the bomb. For $20, get a saucer for the whole day, though this hill doesn’t offer a surface lift.

Located at 725 Granlibakken in Tahoe City, California.

Where to find Free Sledding at Lake Tahoe

Capture the nostalgic charm of finding a perfect sled hill in the largest national forest outside of Alaska. Find hills for everyone and best of all it’s free if you BYOS.

Tahoe Rim Trail Head

Find off-highway parking and a year-round restroom at Tahoe Rim Trail Head. Located in Tahoe Meadows, it is a year-round outdoor destination about seven miles from Mt. Rose Ski Resort. It’s just past the Mt. Rose Summit on the Mt. Rose Highway (Hwy 431) on the way to Incline Village.

Spooner Summit

With off-highway parking and a steep hill, Spooner Summit attracts a crowd quick during school holidays and weekends. Find parking in front of the sledding hill and along the short access road off the highway but no restrooms. Located just pass Spooner Summit on U.S. Highway 50 at the turnoff for Nevada Highway 28.

Don’t have a sled, stop by a grocery store in the Lake Tahoe region to find basic, or replacement, equipment.

Lake Tahoe State Parks

The Lake Tahoe area offers several state parks that are open year-round for winter exploring.

Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park for Sleigh Rides

One of the most photographed places in Lake Tahoe is Sand Harbor. It’s open year-round and in the winter hosts horse-drawn sleigh rides.

From November through March, find Borges Sleigh Rides with their Amish-made sleighs and Belgium draft horses. For 50 years the Borges Family has offered one hour and 30-minute sleigh rides along the shore of Lake Tahoe. Reservations required and prices start at $20.

State Park admission is an additional $10 per car. Located at 2005 Nevada Highway 28 near Incline Village.

Spooner Lake State Park for Snowshoeing

If you can walk, you can snowshoe. And with cheap daily rentals that strap on to regular winter boots, it’s an easy winter sport to enjoy.

Spooner Lake State Park offers several types of winter trails, multi-use, cross country skiing, and snowshoe. The Lakeside trail offers level terrain, perfect for first-timers. Or make a loop around Spooner Lake on the Lakeside Trail. For cross country skiers, the Meadow Trail can’t be beaten for scenery. Ski through a postcard.

Open year-round from sunrise to sunset. Located at the intersection of U.S. 50 and Nevada Highway 28. Admission is $10 per car.

Tahoe Rim Trail

Another place for snowshoeing is the Tahoe Rim Trail trailhead in Tahoe Meadows. Good place for dog snow play too. It’s just past the Mt. Rose Summit on the Mt. Rose Highway (Hwy 431) on the way into Incline Village.

Cross Country Skiing and More at Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park

With 20 km of cross-country trails, spend the day exploring the western shore of Lake Tahoe. In addition, to cross country skiing, Sugar Pine Point offers full moon snowshoe tours open to families.

Located 10 miles south of Tahoe City on California Highway 89. The winter season day use fee is $5

Snowmobiling in Lake Tahoe

Get a rush zipping through Lake Tahoe’s unspoiled beauty. A guided snowmobile tour is an easy way to explore the wilderness.

Start with a two-hour guided tour from Lake Tahoe Snowmobiling Tour. Located at Highway 267 at Brockaway Summit in Tahoe Vista.

Lake Tahoe Winter

What to do in Tahoe City

Tahoe City offers lots of winter fun, all within walking distance.

Tahoe XC

For the serious cross country or skate skier, head to Tahoe XC. With 65 km of groomed trails, including 8 km of dog-friendly trails, it’s a premier place to explore. Find 21 trails along with three warming huts.

Located at 925 Country Club Dr. Adult day pass is $32 and free students and kids. Dogs are $5 a day.

Tahoe City Winter Sports Park

Find an outdoor ski rink and access to 4 km of groomed cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. All the winter sports are conveniently located next to each other and rental equipment is available at the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park.

Pop into Café Zenon for a signature cocktail and comfort food, located next to the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park.

Located at 251 North Lake Blvd in the center of Tahoe City.

The Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema

Evening comes early so escape to the movies.

As Lake Tahoe’s only cinema draft house, order a local draft beer or coffee drink. Don’t miss the popcorn spice bar.

Located at 475 N. Lake Blvd in Tahoe City.

Commons Beach Park & Playground

Find one of the most picturesque walking paths at Lake Tahoe here. The Common Beach Park features a walking path and a playground. The divided path offers a lane for cyclists and walkers along with interpretive signs.

Located at 400 N. Lake Blvd in Tahoe City. Free

Gatekeeper’s Museum

Head over the Truckee River to the Gatekeeper’s Museum for a lesson in Old Tahoe. See exhibits on Washoe history, the boating legacy on Lake Tahoe along with highlights from the 1960 Winter Olympics.

The Gatekeeper lived in a cabin and tended to Lake Tahoe Dam gates. Located at 130 W. Lake Blvd.

William B. Layton Park

Located next the Lake Tahoe Dam is the William B. Layton Park, find a three-acre park on the lake with a self-guided nature walk.

Burton Creek State Park

With 2,000 acres of wilderness at the edge of Tahoe City, it offers six miles of unpaved roads for cross country skiing.

Free and open for sunrise to sunset. Located on Highway 28 near Rocky Ridge Road.

What to do in Truckee

Truckee is along Interstate 80 and a gateway town for the western shore of Lake Tahoe. Find traveler’s services, like a full-service gas station that installs tire chains, along with a quaint downtown area.

Walk down West River Road or Donner Pass Road for locally-owned shops and restaurants. Truckee also features a regional airport and three-star accommodations.

Donner Memorial State Museum

Settlers from Missouri drove their wagons across the plains only to be stranded by an early, heavy snowstorm in November 1846. Unable to continue, the emigrants had to hunker down with few supplies and build a shelter for the winter. Nearly half of the Donner Party perished and the remaining used drastic measures to survive.

Parking is $5 in the winter and $10 in the summer. Located at 12593 Donner Pass Road.

Luxury Lodging at Lake Tahoe

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe’s only AAA Five-Diamond resort offers a destination for laid-back luxury. Taking design clues from Timberline Lodge, The Ritz-Carlton-Lake Tahoe features scrumptious fabrics along with rustic furnishings.

Packed with programs for everyone, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe wows with an in-house marshmologist. Imagine savoring a glass of champagne while you toast house-made marshmallows while watching the Tahoe sunset slowly fade to stars.

Another bonus, the ski valet service keeps all the equipment stored overnight. The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe is located at 13031 Ritz-Carlton Highlands Court.

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino

With 422 guest rooms, suites and cottages with access to Lake Tahoe, the Hyatt offers an AAA Four-Diamond resort perfect for getaways. Find several restaurants on the property and the Lone Eagle Grille offers lake views and a fine dining menu.

Stillwater Spa is one of the largest spa facilities in the area. And the Hyatt offers a free ski shuttle to Diamond Peak.

Grand Lodge Casino offers adults an upscale mountain-themed casino that tempts locals and travelers alike.

Hyatt Regency Resort, Spa and Casino is located at 111 Country Club Dr.at Lakeshore Blvd.

Know Before You Go

Lake Tahoe is not a ski-in/ski-out destination. To enjoy the best of Tahoe you will need to rent an AWD vehicle.

Don’t skimp on the rental. AWD or 4WD is a must for winter and check out NVRoads.com for winter road closures.

Rideshare is difficult in Lake Tahoe since part of its in Nevada and part in California. And rideshare vehicles can’t go across state lines.

For rides to and from Reno Tahoe International Airport, use North Tahoe Express. Please arrange your ride ahead

Podcast

Hear more about why you should travel to Lake Tahoe in Travel to Lake Tahoe in Nevada and California – Amateur Traveler Episode 298.

What to Do in North Lake Tahoe in the Winter including where to ski, snowshoe and sled. Where to stay and where to eat s'mores. | Things to Do in North Lake Tahoe #travel #trip #vacation #lake-tahoe #usa #california #winter #skiing #things-to-do-in

by Catherine Parker

Catherine Parker is frequently found behind the wheel of a trusty 4x4 driving the back roads and interstates of North America. To date, she’s traveled to all 50 U.S. States and seven Canadian provinces along with places in Asia and Europe. Though she began her travel career twenty years ago when she earned her flight attendant wings. Find her in guidebooks, magazines, or her website, CarfulOfKids.com.

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