|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.