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Kirkwood vs. Bear Valley

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I am planning a week long trip to either Kirkwood or Bear Valley.

Any thoughts on which one is better ? Bear Valley is planning on opening the lower mountain later next week...

post #2 of 11
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi scotty!

Why kirkwood ? :-)
post #4 of 11
We lived in SF for about seven years and were loyal Kirkwood skiers, with a little Squaw, Heavenly, and Apline mixed in for variety's sake.

Kirkwood is about twice as big as Bear Valley and the base elevation is about 1300ft higher, which means you'll be getting snow at the bottom when other Sierra resorts are getting rain.

That said, I don't know what you like to ski. We loved Kirkwood for some of the steeps and chutes and the hikeable stuff. There are also some fun cruisers like Happiness Is & Elevator Shaft off of Chair 4. True beginner runs are fairly limited, and relegated to their own part of the mountain, which takes some doing to get to from the other side. If you've got a mix of beginners and experts in your group, this might not be the best place to go.

However, we also loved Kirkwood because it's got a good mix of some nice-ish condos with a laid back, quiet vibe in the evenings. I mean, neither Bear Valley nor Kirkwood is going to be hoppin', South Lake Tahoe style, in the evenings, but I hate casinos so it never mattered to me. What Kirkwood DOES have is The Kirkwood Inn, one of those great old log buildings with a fireplace serving beer and casual food. "Camp for grown-ups," I like to call it. And the nordic center at Kirkwood is stellar, should you want to take a day off from alpine to snowshoe, skate ski, or classic ski. In fact, we used to the use the oval of trails near the resort lodging to moonlight XC ski over to the Kirkwood Inn for drinks and back. Quite lovely.

Have a great trip!
post #5 of 11
Well, the fact that Kirkwood has had most of its expert terrain open for a month now and Bear Valley is finally opening theirs -- tells you a lot.

BV is low, it's expert terrain and has gotten a lot of rain. It's also a smaller place.

Kirkwood went 100% open before Christmas and continues to pile up the snow.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks all

I am actually an intermediate skier moving on towards black. I can do the black groomers but need to work on off-piste and bumps.

Is kirkwood better ? How do you rate the black terrain groomed vs ungroomed for both ?
post #7 of 11
If all our choices had as little downside... Both very nice, have skied extensively at both. I have a pass at KW, so that's my personal vote.

Lodging likely more pricey at Kirkwood, you have more alternatives down valley in the Bear Valley area.

Kirkwood generally steeper, Bear more user-friendly. Kirkwood has many more choices in the steep groomed (you'll have a steep non-mogul/off-piste choice off any top chair almost always) and ungroomed, with grades of difficulty available to keep anyone amused. However, there's enough of both at both areas to find a run that suits you.

Kirkwood has had essentially full snow coverage since December, which is comforting. Practically speaking I ignore the below-lodge runs at Bear since the snow there is good as an exception, not the rule. Rest of snow quality about even, Kirkwood is demonstrably higher but the upper snow at Bear somehow stays nice (unlike Squaw, for instance).
post #8 of 11
If you're even wondering between these two places, go to bear valley.
post #9 of 11
Nomad, I've skied both places and I think you'll be fine at K-wood. There is enough blue and single blacks to fill your days. Since you will be there a week, you'll need a break and south tahoe isn't far. If you go to Bear, there is nothing else near there worth checking out and no other options to ski. A week can be a long time. Search the web and you'll find trailmaps for both. FWIW, you could also try Heavenly since it's within an hour with clear roads.
post #10 of 11
kirkwood because of 2 words

Head Wall
post #11 of 11
How can you possibily spend a week in kirkwood let alone Bear Valley.
There isn't that much to ski without getting bored out of your mind.
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