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Going to Lake Tahoe... need some advice

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm going (atempting at least) to go to Lake Tahoe the first week of March for only 3-4 days. Never been there and so I wonder which resort stacks better over another. I don't think I'll be doing anything besides skiing... but some apre-ski places worth going to would also be appreciated.

Thanks all in advance!
post #2 of 22
I have no advice for Lake Tahoe as I have never been there, but I can offer this:

I AM VERY JEALOUS
post #3 of 22
Where to ski while in the Tahoe area depends on several variables, including your skill level and your preferred type of skiing. Those on this forum will be better able to respond if we know what you're capable of and what kind of skiing turns you on the most! The weather in the Tahoe Basin can also infuence what would be recommended. One thing's for certain, if you get a nice sunny day, (quite likely), the view from the top of Heavenly ski area looking down to Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful anywhere!! :
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys... I'm an upper intermediate. I ski mostly blacks here in East. In the West I only venture on blacks on a powder day b/c I hate the already skied, mogul shaped terrain. My knees don’t keep up… Hope this helps!
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Euclide:
Thanks guys... I'm an upper intermediate. I ski mostly blacks here in East. In the West I only venture on blacks on a powder day b/c I hate the already skied, mogul shaped terrain. My knees don’t keep up… Hope this helps!
I am local here in San Fran. Tahoe is about 4 hour drive from my house. I lived in New York C area for a long time, so I understand what do you mean. Based on your skiing level and the apres skiing requirements, I would strongly suggest Heavenly for you. Its big and has a lot of groomed runs. We do not have as much ice as in the East, so have no fear, come and visit. Stay in one of the hotels at the Gondola base and you can ski in and ski out with plenty of actions. Horizon has a $305/ppl 5 days package with lifts and lodging, check it out.
post #6 of 22
Gee, you sound like me! East Coast skier too! If your headquartered at South Lake Tahoe, CA. Heavenly ski area is in town, with a gondola starting right in the town!

Heavenly's a funny mountain, steepest at bottom of the California side, and in the Canyons on the Nevada side. Remainder is lots of groomed green & blue on both California and Nevada sides. Views are breathtaking. Gets real crowded on weekends, but not till noon or so. I guess the California crowd likes to sleep in. You can get lots of runs in before noon. If you get lucky and get a powder dump, ski early!!! Lots of good tree skiing if there's lots of snow. On my annual ski trip to the Tahoe area we usually ski Heavenly the first day.

Kirkwood ski area, about a 40 minute drive from South Lake Tahoe offers a very high 7800 foot base elevation that very often yields the most snow and driest snow in the Greater Tahoe skiing area. Much less crowded, even on weekends, and somewhat less expensive than the others. Lots of Blue/Blue-black, groomed as well as ungroomed. You can ski advanced chutes and drops just a short hike from the tops of the lifts that go all the way to the top. Best to hook up with an advanced local skiier with knowledge of the area. Make sure to tell him what you can and can't do! Otherwise you can end up in some pretty tough conditions. Kirkwood's my favorite area out there. Biggest downside is if there is a big dump of snow, they may close the road from South Lake Tahoe so you can't get there or can only get there with 4 wheel drive vehicle and/or chains!!!

Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley are both about 1+ hour from South Lake Tahoe. Alpine Meadows is offering ski tickets for $39 I think this year. Alpine Meadows is similar to Kirkwood in many ways, but more crowded and with a lower base elevation. Lots of great trails and off-piste & tree skiing on the back side of the mountain. Squaw Valley is crowded generally and seems to me to spread out too much. You end up skiing traverses alot. Hoever there are some great blue trails and lots of Black, tough drops.

I hope this helps. If you have any more specific questions post'em, and the forum will try to help. Have a great trip!. I'll be skiing there myself from 2/26 til 3/2!! :
post #7 of 22
You are in for a treat, just hope the weather is on your side.

Only on-mountain lodging as I recall is in Squaw, an tons of availability near Heavenly.

Definitely do both these resorts this trip, and leave the others for your return visit. Both are big, good lifts, good variety.

Enjoy!
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much! Nice replies! Now I just have to pray that I'll be able to swing the time off needed fot this trip.
post #9 of 22
Just one more thing about Lake Tahoe. The road linking between Squaw and Heavenly (Route 89) closed often for Avalanche control when it is snowing or have heavy snow accumulation. So, do not plan for skiing at Heavenly and Squaw in the same trip. We locals never anticipate the road will open, so our plan is always North Tahoe resorts or South Tahoe resorts. For the 12 years (1970's to 1980's) we stayed in S. Tahoe ski house for the Christmas holidays, we only traveled to Alpine once.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Euclide:
I'm going (atempting at least) to go to Lake Tahoe the first week of March for only 3-4 days. Never been there and so I wonder which resort stacks better over another. I don't think I'll be doing anything besides skiing... but some apre-ski places worth going to would also be appreciated.

Thanks all in advance!
The two best resorts are Alpine and Kirkwood. Unfortunately, they are at opposit ends of the Lake. I recommend staying on the North shore, or in Truckee. That gives you easy access to Alpine, Squaw and Sugar Bowl. Since you're going to be up for three days only, you don't wont to spend it all driving/shuttling.

Both the North Shore (Tahoe City, Kings Beach etc) and Truckee have lots of restaurants and bars. Check the local throw-away rags. Squaw base is usually pretty hopping and the Plumpjack is a great place to eat. If in Truckee, try Moody's and Pianetta for food; Pastime and Bar of America for music. Pastime is my second favorite bar in the world, but I like dives.
post #11 of 22
If you're in Tahoe midweek, Squaw is the place to be. It can get crowded on weekends but it is far superior, in my opinion, to Alpine, Neavenly or Kirkwood. I've never skied Sugar Bowl though.

Heavenly has a weird layout and great views. Alpine lacks vert compared to it's close neighbor Squaw Valley. Kirkwood is about 40 minutes from South Lake Tahoe and has always been over rated.

Have fun.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Euclide:
I'm going (atempting at least) to go to Lake Tahoe the first week of March for only 3-4 days. Never been there and so I wonder which resort stacks better over another. I don't think I'll be doing anything besides skiing... but some apre-ski places worth going to would also be appreciated.

Thanks all in advance!
There is at least 17,000 acres of in bound skiing. It's all good, and it is difficult to dismiss some areas. No one of the major areas is far superior to any of the others; an important point if you are made to feel by replies that by skiiing one, your vacation will be made a failure by missing another. You won't go wrong with the big resorts, Heavenly, Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood, Squaw Valley, Northstar or Sierra-at-Tahoe, all of which are each over 2000 acres, and Squaw and Heavenly are 4000 and 4800 acres, respectively. In three or four days, these will be enough to choose from, although others, like Sugarbowl, Mt. Rose and Homewood are fine places. There is a lot of terrain, and you can avoid the bump runs. The snow storms can and do fill these in as well, and the areas are so big that much of the area is not skied on enough to aquire bumps everywhere.

Northstar has the least steep terrain; purists call it flatstar, but they miss the great tree skiing there, the best anywhere. The new Lookout Mountain addition is not flat. People will call it "flatstar", then tell you they have never skied Lookout Mountain. The same people can't ski the Palisades at Squaw. Northstar has a great base village. It's got the best grooming of all the resorts and the longest bump run on the backside, just for the record. The bar at the base is a good after ski spot.

You have to ski Squaw. It's sensless to try to describe this place which has big skiing history, fantastic terrain and a new base village that is really nice. A comment on superiority: Snow conditions at Squaw can be tough. It is a wide open place (unless you head into the more protected areas in the trees around the Red Dog and Squaw Creek chairs where few ski because they only want to ski KT-22) so the snow off the groomed trails can be crustier, windpacked, and just challenging if it doesn't soften up. So don't just believe it is absolutely superior. But, that being said, it's a phenomenal place.
Bar 1 has bands, and the new village has spots I haven't explored yet. Tahoe City southward a few miles down route 89 has bands.

Heavenly has the great view of the lake you see in the ski magazines, only it's much better there. It's a "have-to-ski" area as well. Purists will also say that there is nothing steep at Heavenly. You find that these purists have not skied Mott's and Killebrew Canyons. Be sure to get to the Nevada side. For after ski you have the entire casino action across State Line. The buffet at Caesar's is a great place to eat.

Kirkwood is 50% expert terrain. While it is not on the lake, there is a great view of Caples Lake from the ridge. The strength here is being able to ski well enough to explore the mountain, away from the trails. The other half is not steep at all. Kirkwood is in a box canyon, (much like it's owner, Telluride, interestingly enough) and you feel what it's like to be in the Sierras. No casinos or traffic. When you are on the ridge in the Sunrise area, there is a marker which points out all the surrounding peaks. Pioneers drove their wagons up there, if you can believe that. For after ski, it's all right there unless you go back to Tahoe. Don't rush back. Spend some time in the bar across the street from the lifts. I don't remember the name; I spend time in it, not outside looking at the sign.

Everyone likes Alpine Meadows. It's a big 2000 acres, has everything from groomers to killer steeps, and a friendly staff. Be sure to get over to the backside, too. You might miss this area. You can get a great grilled chicken and apple sausage at the hut over there, sit outside in the Sierra sun and enjoy life. It's up in a canyon; for nightlife you would head back to Tahoe City or Truckee. But the bar there is a really fun place with a great crowd.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by crank:
If you're in Tahoe midweek, Squaw is the place to be. It can get crowded on weekends but it is far superior, in my opinion, to Alpine, Neavenly or Kirkwood. I've never skied Sugar Bowl though.

Heavenly has a weird layout and great views. Alpine lacks vert compared to it's close neighbor Squaw Valley. Kirkwood is about 40 minutes from South Lake Tahoe and has always been over rated.

Have fun.
I was in Squaw on 2/7-8 weekend, there was no crowd at all. I zipped in the Gondola without a wait and there was no one standing inside. They opened up Broken Arrow lift and I was on it at around 2:30pm, I was the only one on the lift for the entire run/length. So where is the crowd? Maybe only at the Emmigrant lift, I saw lines were 10 deep, so I headed to the Siberia Express, hardly any one was there.

I belive it must be crowded during the President Weekend, today. That is why I am sitting here typing.

[ February 16, 2004, 12:02 PM: Message edited by: JackW ]
post #14 of 22
Although you didn't exactly say if you were going just for the skiing or had to have the amenities to go with that? I'm guessing the latter, then stay at South Shore and ski Heavenly. Mostly groomers but has its areas. Mainly Mott's & Killibrew Canyons. In town you'll find plenty of restaurants and bars as well as casinos. The bonus is the gondola is close to the casinos.

Charlie Crabb pretty much summed it up. Lots of great choices, I personally like Kirkwood and Alpine Meadows but they all have good things about each one. Enjoy your trip! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #15 of 22
Jealous as well,

If your going for the first time and want to be in the middle of everything, I would suggest staying in South Lake Tahoe! You will have everything you need there! The Forest Inn is close to the village chair.
You mentioned groomers, ther are plenty at Heavenly!
If you are up for going to a couple of other places, I believe you can do the breakfast cruise on the Tahoe Queen across the lake and ski Alpine Meadows or Squaw Valley. I believe busses service the remainder of the trip from there?
I feel the greatest ski or non-skiing views are in Lake Tahoe. So if this is your first trip there, I would almost gaurantee that it will not be your last!
If you will have wheels and feel a bit wild, try Kirkwood, its worth the drive!

Have fun, the familyskier
post #16 of 22
If you go to Squaw (which IS AWESOME), an time is limited, AND you try for the cable car first and its crowded, get OUT of the cable car building and go to the FUNITEL. The line their keeps moving and usually there are MUCH less people (its right nearby the cable car). This will drop you off for a very nice LONG warm-up run down the middle of the valley.

As others have said, check out Red Dog and Squaw Creek lifts over in the trees too.

If your expert, also head way over to the far side of the resort to Granite Chief (You go down Shirley Lake runs to get to it): its a whole other area also.

But like I said: the wait for the cable car can be painful. Take the funitel instead. If you want to get to the top (the funitel unloads earlier), you can take the funitel, ski down a bit to Syberia express lift, then at the top of that you are at the top. The Cable car doesnt get you high enough anyway, it unloads at beginner runs, but a very good restaurant and bar facility.

Thats the other thing: the facilities at Squaw are totally awesome.

Oh and be honest about your abilities, when they say black diamond there, they REALLY mean it!
post #17 of 22
cant say which is best, but some fyi for south lake tahoe: there are ski buses that go out to kirkwood and sierra at tahoe that are either free or less than $10. the tahoe queen does go out to north tahoe daily, but its $50-100(does include dinner on the way back).
post #18 of 22
as a slight variant on the posted topic, we will be in Tahoe at the end of March/beginning of April including a weekend. What are the resorts to go for/avoid if we want to minimise delays by weekend crowds
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by colin:
as a slight variant on the posted topic, we will be in Tahoe at the end of March/beginning of April including a weekend. What are the resorts to go for/avoid if we want to minimise delays by weekend crowds
Unless there is a three day weekend, crowds are rarely a problem that time of the season.

Alpine and Kirkwood have the best Spring skiing.
post #20 of 22
just went to Tahoe over MLK weekend and it is awesome. I skied Squaw every day and it was worth it. I hardly waited in any lines and the skiing rocked. I do have a tip for good parking if you go there. Park by the far east lodge, there you can buy a ticket and park a stones throw away from the far east express chair. If I remember correctly this is the first road on the left on the main road into the resort.

Also there are two great little breakfast joints called firesign or fireside cafe(can't remember the name)that has awesome food and so does rosies in tahoe city.

Have a great time!!
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by powderhound24:
just went to Tahoe over MLK weekend and it is awesome. I skied Squaw every day and it was worth it. I hardly waited in any lines and the skiing rocked. I do have a tip for good parking if you go there. Park by the far east lodge, there you can buy a ticket and park a stones throw away from the far east express chair. If I remember correctly this is the first road on the left on the main road into the resort.

Also there are two great little breakfast joints called firesign or fireside cafe(can't remember the name)that has awesome food and so does rosies in tahoe city.

Have a great time!!
The only problem on parking at the Far East Express is that if you go skiing at Granite Chief, some times you might miss that last lift on Red Dog, then you are in a LONG WALK home.
post #22 of 22
Euclide,

Man......is this an entertaining thread. Everybody has an opinion.......and a little bit of truth (and fib) in all of them. Like where there are and aren't lines.....just don't believe everything you read. Anyhow, I'll pass on the skiing info, just about everything has been said...what the heck does anyone do after skiing - here are my non-casino reccs for southlake:

-"Burger Lounge" (great big burgers made to order with fresh ground meat, tomato soup, fast service, speaks french)
-Tahoe Donuts (plain cake donuts among many other varieties)
-Alpen Sierra (organic fair-wage coffees and teas, bagels in morn
-Sprouts Cafe (organic vegetarian, unique soup,range-fed poultry)
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