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Lake Tahoe Trip Advice

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I am heading out to Lake Tahoe on February 11 - February 18. I'll have 6 days of skiing, 2/12-2/17. My family owns a timeshare at the Timber Lodge next to the Heavenly Gondola, so we'll be staying in South Lake Tahoe. This is the 2nd time I'll ski Lake Tahoe and I had a few questions.

When I went to Tahoe 2 ski season ago, I skiied Heavenly, Squaw Valley, and Kirkwood. I liked Squaw the best by far.

I bought a Tahoe Card for this ski season, since I bought it before 8/15, I am getting a free lift ticket to Kirkwood or Sugar Bowl that will be valid on Monday - Thursday, 2/13-2/16 and a free lift ticket to Diamond Peak that will be Sunday - Friday, 2/12-2/16.

My skill level is a beginning Expert. I definately plan on skiing Squaw Valley at least 1 day. Since we are at the base of Heavenly, I'll probably end up skiing 2 days there. So that leaves me with 3 more days of skiing other resorts. I figure I'll use my free ticket voucher at Sugar Bowl instead of Kirkwood. Then I have a voucher for a free Diamond Peak ticket. Should I bother using this or go elsewhere? The mountain looks like it is mostly for Intermediates. I figure if I use the voucher, I figure it would be a a day to take it easy and just check out the resort and ski it since it's free. I definately want to ski Alpine Meadows one of the days as well. So if I do that plan I'm locked in for all 6 days: 2 days at Heavenly, 1 at Squaw, 1 at Alpine, 1 at Sugar Bowl, and 1 at Diamond Peak.

Anyone have any recommendations for resorts there? I'd like to ski Homewood and Mt. Rose eventually, but don't know if I can fit them in this year.

When I went to Tahoe, we went in mid-March 2004 and the it was Spring conditions, it did snow about 5-6 inches one night and I was able to ski Squaw on a powder day. I didn't have the best experience at Heavenly, but plan on skiing there 1-2 days since it's right outside our condo. How is the snow in mid-February?
post #2 of 27
Mid-Feb can be anything from spring like to so much new snow the tops of the mountains are all closed. Good time of the year in that good coverage is all but guaranteed and there's definilty a great chance for snow.

Your plan seems pretty solid. As an expert, Mt Rose would offer you more interesting terrain then Diamond Peak (you can try The Chutes) and is only 15 minutes farther up the road, but with a free pass I can certainly see why you might choose to check out the views of the lake from Diamond Peak (I can see Diamond Peak from my house but I've never skied there). I'd also probably pick Kirkwood over Heavenly for a day, but since you're right there at Heavenly I'm sure there will a pull to just go the easy route and ski right outside your door, especially since you've already been to Kirkwood.
post #3 of 27
MBlacky, I never grew to like Heavenly, but perhaps Mott and the other more challenging areas make a difference... However, the views from Homewood make it definitely worth a stop. Totally "down home" area, and it seems as though you'll ski right into the lake. On a clear day, I can't imagine anything better. That is, if you pay attention to such things!

Kirkwood at the south and Sugar Bowl up north are my choices for great skiing. There are a number of Bears that frequent these places (and some that even work there!). Definitely worth a hook-up if you choose either place.
post #4 of 27
Diamond Peak??
I grew up skiing (Ski Incline) It is now Diamond Peak, with two additional Lifts and a good bit of advanced (Expert)? Terrain than when I skied there.
I never go there as an adult (I don't live in Incline anymore) and would be diving past other areas to get there.
No one ever talks about Diamond Peak. People who live in Incline ski there. I think the only concern you may have about skiing there on a Sunday is crowding?
If it were me? I would use that free ticket, get there first thing in the morning and give the place a ride!! Its a nice area If it were not competing with the destination resorts in the Tahoe Basin (It Would be call a great!!) ski area.
If it just doesn't do it for you, leave and drive up the hill to Mt. Rose (Probably) 30 min snow to snow.
I look forward to hearing what you think about Ski Incline (Diamond Peak)

post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm pretty sure I'll use my Diamond Peak voucher, you can't beat a free lift ticket. I figure mid-week would be a good time to go there. The terrain off of the Crystal Express looks pretty decent, especially Solitude Canyon, judging from their trail map. The only thing I've really heard about Diamond Peak is that it has some of the best views of Lake Tahoe.

And with my free Kirkwood or Sugar Bowl voucher, I'll use it for Sugar Bowl. So that leaves me with 4 other days to plan around. I guess it will all depend on the conditons, weather, etc. when I get out there...
post #6 of 27

Diamond Peak

Diamond Peak/Ski Incline is low down almost at lake level. It tends to get icy and the runs funnel down into the beginner area. I've skied there once with no plans to go back Much better to drive over the pass to Mount Rose. Sometimes a free ticket is worth what you pay for it :

I'd say that Sugar Bowl is equivalent to Kirkwood. Another bigger area to consider is Northstar which has some fun cruisers on the backside, and some tree skiing, and lots of poseurs. Problem is that it's a pain to get to the lifts these days with all the construction and parking problems they've got going on.
post #7 of 27
SEARCH This has been covered before

Winter in Tahoe: Feb worries

Homewood has killer views, some difficult terrain but nothing as hard/scary as Squaw can be, slow chairs ala 1970s skiiing. The views make it worth an experience at least once in your life.

Heavenly IMHO great cruiser and glades; some fine bump runs, 'heavenly' views. Not very difficult off piste. My main issue with Heavenly is the lifts don't move the crowds as efficiently as Squaw.

Diamond I've never gone too. Supposedly with great views but at the terrain at Squaw and Rose is more challenging, I pass on it.

Rose, Squaw, Alpine are my favorites because of the chutes and small castlerock cliff in East Bowl at Rose and the off piste terrain at the latter two places. To put my money where my mouth is, I have passes for Squaw and Rose; I didn't renew my Heavenly pass. Mamasaki in Squaw village has best sushi I've ever had.

Kirkwood is great but for me it's 90 minutes whereas Rose is 15 and Squaw/Alpine Meadows about 45 minutes drive.
post #8 of 27
Staying over in south lake? Ouch.

Drive to north shore (Squaw/Alpine) SUCKS if the road around the west shore is closed. Brutal IMHO. Don't even consider Sugar Bowl from South Shore. Not worth the drive.

Okay, if it's a good snow year, and not too much snow on the roads:

Sunday: Heavenly (get your bearings, close to the house, etc.) Start on the Nevada side (less crowds in the a.m.)

Monday: Sierra at Tahoe. Great Resort, small in stature. Fun stuff.

Tuesday: Kirkwood 'Nuff said. One of the best in Tahoe. High, dry snow.

Wed.: Squaw. Beat the crowds on a wed.

Thurs: Alpine Meadows. Great resort.

Friday: Kirkwood or more Heavenly.

Okay, if it's POUNDING and warm:

Kirkwood and Mt. Rose, Sierra if you're getting bored and you can even get up Hwy 50. More Kirkwood than Rose.

If it's POUNDING and Cold:

Add in Heavenly and Diamond Weak (Peak). Killer trees at Diamond Peak, it's free, and it's not a bad drive in storms. Heavenly is KILLER in a cold storm down the CA face. And Kirkwood trees are badass.

If the snow is SHITTY

You can drive around the west shore. Always good stuff at Squaw and Alpine, even in lean years/times. Don't even consider Homewood (too low) on west shore or Diamond Peak. Kirkwood ALWAYS has the most snow too. Heavenly has LOTS of snowmaking as well.
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
When I went out to Tahoe in March 2004, they shut down the road at Emerald Bay because of the snow, so we had to go the long way around the lake to get to Squaw, took about 1.5 hours. But worth the drive because it's Squaw.

Sugar Bowl looks like a good mountain, the drive to Kirkwood is about an hour from South Lake, how long is the drive to Sugar Bowl from South Lake?
post #10 of 27
Squaw Valley to SugarBowl:
About 30 to 40Min with good traffic / Clear roads.
Sugar Bowl is a long haul from the SouthShore / Throw in Weekend Ski traffic

I like Sugar bowl. Week Day Just snowed No wind?? There is no better POW day in the Tahoe area
post #11 of 27
Originally Posted by MBlacky1051
Sugar Bowl looks like a good mountain, the drive to Kirkwood is about an hour from South Lake, how long is the drive to Sugar Bowl from South Lake?
South Lake (Stateline area) to kirkwood=25 minutes.

Sugar to south lake, west shore, no traffic=1.5 hours.

I don't think Sugar Bowl is as good as most here think.
post #12 of 27
Originally Posted by Jim S
Mamasaki in Squaw village has best sushi I've ever had.
It IS killer Sushi (ok, I've probably had better in Hawaii, but it's up to par with what I'm used to from 10 years in Seattle). They have a killer happy hour deal too which they don't always mention unless you ask, $5 for a Bud and either a salmon or tuna hand roll. For an extra $1.50 you an upgrade the Bud to a Sierra. 3 of those and I've got a pretty full belly and a full on good start to my buzz
post #13 of 27
I would avoid Diamond Peak - even if I had a free ticket and a free lunch. it is for beginners - not even intermediates. it is definitely not worth driving up from south shore. you are wasting a day.
post #14 of 27
I had the same choices you did last year. We spent 3 days up north 3 down south. Loved Squaw (2 days) and Alpine. Would go back anytime. We had two very very windy days. 50+mph at the peaks so we went to Northstar one day. Lots of folks on this site don't like it and I can see why, but it was out of the wind and we had enjoyable skiing which we would not have had otherwise. We went to Sierra one day, you would probably be bored, but we did like the small mountain atmosphere and good cheap food. I understand Heavenly is convenient but we would not go back there if you paid us.

Best thing about Heavenly, a great photographer named Flo took the best picture of my daughter and I we have ever had made.
post #15 of 27
Feb. 2006, no one will know what the condition be at that time of the year. If it snowed hard, like 2005, the pass from SLT to NLT via Emerald Bay will be closed for AV control and the driving around the other side of the lake may take 1.5 hours. So you might get stuck in SLT. In addition, the access road to Kirk might be chian controled or closed also, although closing most not likely. I would have a second plan, if I were to live next to Heavenly (which I will never do, even you paid me), that is a back up plan to ski Kirk for 3 days, Sierra for 2 days and Heavenly for one day.
post #16 of 27
Really nice analysis by Jed Peters. With the tremendous volatility of Sierra weather, you want to be flexible. You should be skiing different places if its dumping vs. if it's been clear skies and spring conditions for the last 3 weeks.

Sugar Bowl is a nice area, but Kirkwood is better and given you're staying South Shore it doesn't make sense IMHO to schlep to Sugar Bowl.

I also agree that if you're an upper level skier you should bypass Diamond Peak in favor of Mt. Rose. If you're spending 1K+ for a week vacation why diminish your ski experience to save $50? And I think Mt. Rose has some cheap midweek promos, 2-for-1 Tuesdays or something like that.
post #17 of 27
I second (or 10th) the call- definitely Kirkwood over Sugar Bowl.
post #18 of 27
Hi MBlacky1051, could you please advise what is and how to purchase the TAHOE CARD? Looking for those free passes you mention.

post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 
Check out for the Tahoe Card, there are ticket deals for almost every resort in Lake Tahoe except for Heavenly.
post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 
You can also sign up for a free PEAKS card through Vail Resorts, you can get discounts on Heavenly lift tickets if you purchase them online and you can get a discount by showing your card at the ticket offices. It's free to join and the card is good at every Vail Resorts ski area. Here's the link:
post #21 of 27
post #22 of 27
Diamond Peak doesn't have a lot of challenging terrain, but it is still a fun little mountain and it doesn't seem to get too crowded, even on the weekends. The views of the lake are outstanding. It is kind of an old school ski area -- as opposed to a resort -- very family friendly.

However, you might want to check out Mt. Rose instead if you have spring-like conditions when you're there. Mt. Rose is a little higher in altitude than DP.

Depending on the timing of you air departure, the other advantage of Rose and D. Peak is that they're the closest to the Reno airport.

Squaw is great, but I am almost like Alpine Meadows better.

The Village Loft ski shop in Incline is pretty good if you are in need of equipment or tuning.
post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 
Bringing back an old post, it now looks like I'll be in Lake Tahoe flying in Saturday 2/11 and leaving Sunday 2/19, so I could have an extra day on the slopes now.

Of course, I'll have no idea what the weather will be like 6 months from now, so I'll have to play which resorts I ski by ear. Thanks for the advice Jed.

I am now leaning towards using the free voucher to Kirkwood instead of Sugar Bowl, the drive to Sugar Bowl looks very far from Stateline.

This will probably change several times and snow/weather will be a huge factor in February, but I'm thinking Heavenly 2 days, Squaw 1-2 days, Kirkwood 1 day, Alpine Meadows 1 day, Diamond Peak 1 day midweek to take it easy (I have a free voucher, so why not?), and possibly Mt. Rose or Homewood 1 day. I figure I'll ski either Heavenly or Mt. Rose the last day I'm in Tahoe out of convenience.

Which resort to do you guys prefer Mt. Rose or Homewood? Mt. Rose might be a good option on Saturday, which would be the last day we ski, before we head into Reno for our flight out on Sunday.

BTW, the Tahoe Cards have been delayed and will be sent out the middle of the month. I will now get a free ticket voucher to the Tahoe XC center, which I will not be using if anyone is interested.
post #24 of 27
Originally Posted by MBlacky1051
Which resort to do you guys prefer Mt. Rose or Homewood? Mt. Rose might be a good option on Saturday, which would be the last day we ski, before we head into Reno for our flight out on Sunday.
Rose and Homewood are completely different. Rose has a high-speed lift that serves most of the mountain and steep cruising terrain, and some steep off-trail too. Homewood has slow lifts, easy groomers and the steeper stuff is a pain to get to (or away from). The views from both are spectacular. We try and go to both for a day or two each season. It's not a preference thing, it's an attitude thing.
post #25 of 27

late thread poacher

I hate to poach this thread but was curious how the crowded roads many of you speak of are during non holiday weeks. Specifically 1/31-2/5. I will be in Glenbrook because I have extremly cheap accomodations there and plan on skiing Squaw, Kirkwood, Alpine, Heavenly.
post #26 of 27
Since I missed out on the 6-pack I am thinking of getting the Tahoe Card. I see that you can get up to four discounts on one card. Does anyone know if that includes the freebie? My wife and i are going and I was wondering if I should only buy one card.
post #27 of 27
Rose Rocks, and if you can hit it on a Tues., it's 2 for 1 tickets. Save room for a breakfast burrito, and remember, Mullets are NOT permitted on the hill.

You have to drive right by Diamond, so just pop in, scalp your free ticket to a needy ripper, and be on your way.

Oh, and let me be the umpteenth person to tell you you're a nut if you don't ski Kwood on the freebie.
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