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Northstar or Squaw [first family trip, intermediate parents with young kids, early Jan]

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi, I was hoping for a little guidance on planning my first family ski trip.  We will be going midweek the first week of January and are currently deciding between Northstar or Squaw.  The main purpose of this trip is to introduce our 3 year old (one month shy of being 4) to skiing and the snow.  Therefore the quality of the ski school is the biggest concern.  Other people going on the trip is my wife (intermediate skier), myself (intermediate skier), 2 year old daughter and grandma.  The daughter and grandma plan to just hang around the village while my son is in ski school.  My wife and I plan to ski on our own and hopefully by the last day can do some runs (currently planning to ski 3 days and maybe have a 4th day for tubing, playing in snow, etc.).

 

Comparing Squaw to Northstar it seems Northstar is considerably more expensive than Squaw to stay walking distance to the ski school, village center, etc.  While not the deciding factor obviously cheaper is always better.

 

Anyways based on the above information is there a resort you would recommend over the other?

post #2 of 15

Well if budget is a concern i used to stay in reno and drive to those places on the weekend or there is a truckee hostel that you can book rooms. 

 

the resort at northstar is done up like a european ski resort so its got plenty of nice shops there. To be honest its been quite a few years since i walked around the squaw valley operation but it still had stuff from when the olympics was there.


Edited by Hoben02 - 11/30/15 at 9:41am
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply.  Cost isn't that big of a concern (I was just surprised that Northstar was that much more expensive than Squaw) and we definitely want to be at the resort to make it easier with the kids, etc.

post #4 of 15
post #5 of 15


Out of those two, I'd suggest Northstar for the needs you've described.  But I'd also ask if you are set on Tahoe-area resorts (driving up from SF or something?), as one thing Tahoe is NOT great for is lots of ski-in/ski-out lodging and nice base areas.   

 

If you are flying, I'd suggest Aspen, Whistler, or Park City as all being better areas for "walk to lift" lodging combined with "walk to nice base village / town" and "good intermediate / groomed mountains".  Sun Valley would also make the list except that beginner ski school is on a separate hill a few miles away from the main mountain, which is irritating when kids are learning to ski.  Mine learned at SV, and we LOVED the ski school and Dollar Mountain for beginners, but logistics got much better when they graduated to Baldy.

 

If you are set on Tahoe for whatever reason, then I think Northstar is the way to go if you are price-insensitive.  

 

Bob

post #6 of 15

it all depends on your skiing preferences.  Northstar is better for intermediate skiers, Squaw is better for advanced.  Both resorts have a village, N*'s is bigger, but both have overpriced shops and restaurants, and a Starbucks.  Ski school is about equal, the myth that N*'s kids ski school is that much better is just a myth.  The biggest factor is weather, early January can be stormy and Squaw is not friendly for intermediate skier in a snowstorm. Northstar is sheltered, so storm skiing is less challenging there.  You decide if it is worth your $s.  

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Bob, appreciate the reply.  We are set on Tahoe for this trip as my mom recently moved to Reno so we want to see where she is living (and pickup grandma to hang out with the baby while we ski!).

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

Bob, appreciate the reply.  We are set on Tahoe for this trip as my mom recently moved to Reno so we want to see where she is living (and pickup grandma to hang out with the baby while we ski!).


Then Northstar is the way to go. The base village is definitely not Aspen, Ketchum, or Park City, but ski-in / ski-out condos are convenient, the ski-school is right there as well, and it is nice to be able to walk to dinner after the kids are asleep and then walk back again.  And until you're looking for black diamond runs the appeal of Squaw will be lost on you.  And as another poster mentioned above, Northstar is much more sheltered and accessible if there is weather while you're there, whereas the upper mountain at Squaw can get white-out conditions, and most of the beginner terrain is up there.

 

Just wish my parents had been nice enough to move near a ski location.  Well, they did, but Megeve and Chamonix are a bit of a journey from SF.

 

Enjoy!

 

Bob

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

Hi, I was hoping for a little guidance on planning my first family ski trip.  We will be going midweek the first week of January and are currently deciding between Northstar or Squaw.  The main purpose of this trip is to introduce our 3 year old (one month shy of being 4) to skiing and the snow.  Therefore the quality of the ski school is the biggest concern.  Other people going on the trip is my wife (intermediate skier), myself (intermediate skier), 2 year old daughter and grandma.  The daughter and grandma plan to just hang around the village while my son is in ski school.  My wife and I plan to ski on our own and hopefully by the last day can do some runs (currently planning to ski 3 days and maybe have a 4th day for tubing, playing in snow, etc.).

 

Comparing Squaw to Northstar it seems Northstar is considerably more expensive than Squaw to stay walking distance to the ski school, village center, etc.  While not the deciding factor obviously cheaper is always better.

 

Anyways based on the above information is there a resort you would recommend over the other?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lowndes View Post
 

Thanks for the reply.  Cost isn't that big of a concern (I was just surprised that Northstar was that much more expensive than Squaw) and we definitely want to be at the resort to make it easier with the kids, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lowndes View Post
 

Bob, appreciate the reply.  We are set on Tahoe for this trip as my mom recently moved to Reno so we want to see where she is living (and pickup grandma to hang out with the baby while we ski!).

Welcome to EpicSki!  Agree with others who recommended Northstar over Squaw for a family trip with young kids, especially for parents who are intermediate skiers.  I first skied at Northstar as an intermediate before I became a parent.  When my daughter was learning, that's where I would've taken her if flying into Reno.  Squaw is bigger than Northstar, but with young kids that's not necessarily a plus.

 

What region do you usually ski?

 

Hopefully you can get some sort of package deal that includes lift tickets and/or discounts for ski school.

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Welcome to EpicSki!  Agree with others who recommended Northstar over Squaw for a family trip with young kids, especially for parents who are intermediate skiers.  I first skied at Northstar as an intermediate before I became a parent.  When my daughter was learning, that's where I would've taken her if flying into Reno.  Squaw is bigger than Northstar, but with young kids that's not necessarily a plus.

 

What region do you usually ski?

 

Hopefully you can get some sort of package deal that includes lift tickets and/or discounts for ski school.

Thanks, I think we are going to do Northstar.  I usually ski in Colorado (usually Telluride) but my mom moved to Reno recently so we want to visit her and have the added bonus of her watching our littlest one.  I just talked to the ski school there for awhile and the program sounds pretty good to me.

 

I'm actually going to head back out to Tahoe in early February to ski Heavenly with a day at Kirkwood and a day at Squaw so can see that mountain there. Really looking forward to the trip and skiing/tubing/being in the mountains with my son for the first time.

post #11 of 15

For young kids in ski school for a day or two N* is the way to go.

 

Squaw would be more fun for you and your wife, but N* seems to fit your need.

 

If it dumps your 4 yr old wont be doing much skiing, and the bowls over at Squaw or Alpine are a ton more fun than anything at N*

post #12 of 15

Both Squaw and Northstar have a good ski schools. However, Northstar has a much more extensive beginner area, with short carpets, long carpets and a lift. All on terrain that a 3 yo could straight line and not get hurt. 

 

Also, Squaw sprawls all over the place. Laterally and vertically. Its not that much bigger than N*, but it seems like it if you are trying to go from one place to another. I don't love it with my family for that reason. N* is a dormant volcano that once blew its top (and middle) out. So 90% of the terrain flows into one point. And the other 10% is just a matter of taking the lift to the top and skiing down the other side (to get to that point of convergence).

 

Also, describing yourselves as intermediates also suggest N* which has LOTS of GREAT intermediate terrain. And if you want some challenging runs, those exist too. If you want to huck off cliffs and shoot a remake of Hot Dogs, well, Squaw is unequaled (not that it doesn't have some good intermediate too). 

 

Also, if you are living in Reno, you might want to consider Mt Rose. 30 minute drive and some damn fine skiing in its own right. Don't know a lot about the ski school, but I've heard good things. And there is no village experience at all. But much cheaper and, like I said, really, really good. Great coverage (highest altitude in the area). An extensive beginner area--even more so than N*. Lots of intermediate. Some good advanced. And then when they open the chutes, its probably the best extreme terrain in the area, after Squaw.  

 

I ski N* with my kids who are 6 and 10. If Rose were closer to Donner Lake, it would be my first choice. 

 

Also, consider Sugar Bowl which has an outstanding ski school, a small but perfect village, and lots of good intermediate and advanced terrain.

post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by parkmonkey View Post
 

For young kids in ski school for a day or two N* is the way to go.

 

Squaw would be more fun for you and your wife, but N* seems to fit your need.

 

If it dumps your 4 yr old wont be doing much skiing, and the bowls over at Squaw or Alpine are a ton more fun than anything at N*


This is backwards.  As noted by alexzn, Squaw's ski school is excellent and the terrain up at Gold Coast will be more than adequate for a first time 4 year old.  The reason to choose Northstar is for the intermediate parents. 

Quote = afterburn:
Also, describing yourselves as intermediates also suggest N* which has LOTS of GREAT intermediate terrain.

+1  Squaw is not a great place for intermediates, especially if it's busy or terrain is restricted.

post #14 of 15

I've put my kids at ski schools in both resorts in the past (long ago).

 

If I recall correctly, the first timer program for young children is in a completely separate area than the rest of Squaw.  This makes it quite a long trek for skiing parents if you want to check in on them (you can't access this area from lift served terrain).  Additionally, (again if I recall correctly), Squaw discourages parents from checking in on their kids in ski school.

However, it seems that they have some sort of new program where Parents and children are together, but obviously at the sacrifice of not really "skiing" for half the day or more.

For more advanced/older children (not your case), Squaw has the advantage of their beginner lift serviced areas on the top of the mountain.  You can easily check on your kids there, while still having advanced terrain within easy reach.

 

At NorthStar, the main beginner area here, is mid-mountain.  Mid-mountain has easily convenient access to food and the Ritz Carlton if you want something more upscale.

This is for the benefit of others, if you have a child that's more interested in learning to snowboard, then NorthStar's Burton Academy is the best, bar none (IMO,YMMV).

 

 

Both resorts have excellent, well trained, organized instructor staff who take good care of your children.

 

 

 

As far as resort is concerned, NorthStar has the free ice skating rink (weather permitting, skate rentals available for a fee), so if your child needs a break, this is a great option.

Squaw also has an ice rink, but you must pay to take the tram, pay for the skates, and pay for the ice session (not cheap).

 

NorthStar has a multi-screen movie theater in the village, Squaw does not.

 

The base village in Squaw is actually bigger than NorthStar, not smaller.  There's more dining and shopping options at Squaw.

The base village at NorthStar surrounds the rink, and during busy afternoons, gets quite crowded, and the competition for dining, lounging areas near the rink can be quite fierce.

 

Given the choices, I choose NorthStar over Squaw almost every time.

 

Hope this helps.


Edited by bsan - 12/2/15 at 10:14am
post #15 of 15

I'd vote northstar because of the smores at 3:30 (or avail for purchase if you're not on time).  

 

it's targetted a little more to the family. Notas much as Keystone where they literally have kids play structure and forts; but there's just a little more alternative activies compared to squaw.

 

 

If you want to do some snowplay though, get away from the ski resorts and you'll save a bundle at the standalone tubing hills/adventure areas. Enough where you can then go nuts at the kids areas in circus circus at Grand sierra in reno. 

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Northstar or Squaw [first family trip, intermediate parents with young kids, early Jan]