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Best Epic resort in Tahoe to learn to ski? [ski vacation]

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

My girlfriend has decided to give skiing a try. We'll spend 10 days in Reno at the end of December. I have an Epic pass, so I plan to visit Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar, and perhaps Mt Rose (not an Epic resort). Does one of these have a beginner program that's either notably better than the others or else notably less expensive?

post #2 of 15

Keep in mind that Kirkwood is 1 hour at least past Heavenly.

 

It'll be crowded. Find out if Nstar or Heavenly are running '4 to a class' adult beginner lessons so she gets more time to actually learn something.

post #3 of 15

Tahoe Donner ( www.tahoedonner.com) is great for learning and the ski pass is relatively cheap.

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips! Ultimate Four sounds worthwhile, and most of the resorts offer it, Northstar included.

 

Here are driving times from Reno, courtesy of Google Maps:

 

0:33 Mt Rose

0:44 Northstar

1:13 Heavenly

1:37 Kirkwood

post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tameware View Post
 

Thanks for the tips! Ultimate Four sounds worthwhile, and most of the resorts offer it, Northstar included.

 

Here are driving times from Reno, courtesy of Google Maps:

 

0:33 Mt Rose

0:44 Northstar

1:13 Heavenly

1:37 Kirkwood


Kirkwoods' 20 minutes from Heavenly? Googlemaps must drive faster than me :)

post #6 of 15

I learned to ski at Heavenly and like it a lot BUT the beginner terrain is pretty divided up.  For a never ever, the area they have at the top of the Stateline gondola or CA Lodge base area is probably sufficient for a bit.  To take advantage of the size of the place, it helps to be at least a low intermediate (although there are additional green run options by going up the Tram and then downloading back to the CA Base area).

 

I think the beginner terrain is more cohesive at both Northstar and Kirkwood (although I haven't really spent much time on the green runs at either).

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tameware View Post
 

My girlfriend has decided to give skiing a try. We'll spend 10 days in Reno at the end of December. I have an Epic pass, so I plan to visit Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar, and perhaps Mt Rose (not an Epic resort). Does one of these have a beginner program that's either notably better than the others or else notably less expensive?

I would think Mt. Rose would be the least expensive.  Plus a lot closer to Reno.  Plenty of terrain for a beginner, as well as good intermediate slopes when getting started.

 

I would pick Northstar over Heavenly.  I skied both as an intermediate.  Heavenly was essentially too big.  I liked Northstar much better.  Still like it as an advanced skier.

 

I'd be surprised if the average drive time from Reno to Kirkwood is as low as what you found . . . during the winter.

 

Are you thinking of skiing every day?  Or also doing other things in the area?

 

Perhaps @Trekchick will pop in with some advice.

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by veteran View Post
 


Kirkwoods' 20 minutes from Heavenly? Googlemaps must drive faster than me :)

You don't have to go past Heavenly to get from Reno to Kirkwood. Take 395 South to Minden to NV 88 then CA 88. But Kirkwood is still a long way from Reno especially if there is any weather.

 

In thread on http://www.epicski.com/t/122300/spending-christmas-in-sacramento I gave the following advice: "Kirkwood is a great place for beginners as they have very mild beginner area with slow chair mostly separated from rest of ski area and if people need more challenge there is an adjacent high-speed chair with easy runs. It's also a beautiful setting with a much better alpine experience than at one of Heavenly's bases."

 

The last week of Dec. will be a zoo everywhere. Get there early. Beginners may want to consider smaller area like Donner Ski Ranch, Soda Springs or Tahoe Donner to avoid crowds.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

I would think Mt. Rose would be the least expensive.  Plus a lot closer to Reno.  Plenty of terrain for a beginner, as well as good intermediate slopes when getting started.

 

I would pick Northstar over Heavenly. 

I'd be surprised if the average drive time from Reno to Kirkwood is as low as what you found . . . during the winter.

 

Perhaps @Trekchick will pop in with some advice.

 TC is busy appeasing Ullr with sacrificial Shots;)

 

KW has sweet greens but I can't comment on crowds over Xmas-NY. 

 

NStar, I'd guess, will be really crowded and maybe 'scary' at that time depending on her fear-factor of beginners 'everywhere' around her. .

 

The OP should consider Mt Rose after weighing extra gas, mileage to other resorts, free (?) casino shuttles to Rose, free parking at Rose (I hear Heavenly has meters), and buying 2 (not one) lift passes, ... and crowds over Xmas-NY weeks. Here's a pic of Mt Rose: the beginners area is the flat part in the bottom right as far as I know. The OP could have fun and catch up with her at the bottom easy enough.

*

post #10 of 15

Of the resorts you mentioned, Northstar has the most as well as some of the best beginner terrain.There are also lots of friendly lower intermediate runs to move up to if your girlfriend starts to get the hang of it. If you are into groomers, Northstar also has the best grooming in all of Tahoe.

Mt. Rose has a nice segregated beginner area with two consecutive beginner lifts.

Kirkwood has some pretty good beginner terrain in the Timber Creek area. Most of the rest of the mountain would look pretty intimidating to a beginner.

Heavenly's beginner terrain is scattered, with narrow runs, side hills and some long traverses. (I know, I taught there for five years.) It is a much better resort for intermediate and above skiers.

 

Other options you might consider:

Diamond Peak in Incline Village (almost in between Mt. Rose and Northstar) has great beginner terrain and probably the second best ski resort views of Lake Tahoe.

Homewood (on the west shore) also has some great beginner terrain and the best and closest ski resort views of Lake Tahoe.

These two resorts are more family oriented and more reasonably priced. (They might even offer discounts on certain days with a season pass from another resort.)  

 

Enjoy all that Reno and Tahoe have to offer during your visit.

post #11 of 15

The Greens are sweet at KW and you can be close enoygh to her while having slopes for your level. Theres even the puckering The Wall where they have the Rahlves Banzai.

 

 

*

 

^^^^ is Northstar. It'll be crowded!

 

 

*

post #12 of 15

Of the vail resorts, NStar is the clear choice... much more beginner-friendly than Heavenly, and much easier to get to than KW.

 

Rose is a fantastic mountain for all levels, very convenient from Reno, much cheaper than the vail resorts, with a great local vibe.  My kids went to ski school at a few places and Rose was their favorite ski school (although NStar was/is their favorite mountain).

 

Diamond Peak is nice if you are staying in Incline Village (the Hyatt there is really nice, and there are lots of nice condos there too.... its a great town) but coming from Reno you go right past Rose on your way there, and I don't see any reason to choose it over Rose.

 

Homewood is a gem... a hidden gem, which I'm afraid to mention online because I'd like it to stay hidden... :)  But its a bit farther away from Reno... especially because of traffic issues around Tahoe City.

 

I'd say NStar and Rose... and maybe make the trek to KW one day just so you can look up at the Cirque in person and really appreciate it when you see it on TV. :)

post #13 of 15

Northstar could get quite crowded (but other places will as well during that time).  If you do go to Northstar try to get set up online ahead of time with the package etc and possibly even get rentals off-site if you can.  Will save you a lot of time at N* and will translate into more time skiing than waiting in line to get lift tix, package, rentals etc.  Also if you get there early you could beat the crowds, ski some, take an early lunch, and get some more non crowded ski time when most people are lunching.  

post #14 of 15

I would definitely get your equipment off site, no matter where you go, esp for a long trip like that, it will save you money as well as time.  Parking at N* comes in three flavors.  Paid parking is $20- $40 depending on how busy they expect they will be... during your trip expect $40.  The have free lots that are fairly close (lot C is slope-side, you can ski-in, ski-out) but they fill up pretty early.  The free lots go back a ways, and the shuttle bus is advisable if you are farther than about F, or if you don't like walking.  After those lots fill up, you have to park back out by the highway in the "overflow" area, and take a shuttle bus from there.  Its a pain, but its not the end of the world.

 

N* has a really nice drop-off area right at the village, so only one person has to make the trek back from the parking lot if you use the drop off area.

 

 

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the tips! I'll report back on what we find.

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