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Heavenly vs. Squaw?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I am going to Lake Tahoe in the middle of March, and I am trying to find which mountain I should focus on - Heavenly or Squaw?

I prefer the blues and blacks, but I will have 5 green skiers with me (including my 4 year old son), so I want to make sure that there is plenty of variety for them.

Also, if I stay at heavenly, which side of the mountain is easier for the green skiers to get to the good stuff for them.


Thanks so much for your help.
post #2 of 23
no contest. Squaw.

I'm sure to open a can 'o worms here, but it's much more a skiers mountain.

And there's plenty to do for a beginner as well.

Jeff
post #3 of 23
Are you kidding? Heavenly is the joke of the Tahoe area. Squaw, Alpine, Sugar Bowl and Mt. Rose are far better. If you are going to go to South Lake Tahoe, do you self a favor and go to Kirkwood.
post #4 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by western bound
I am going to Lake Tahoe in the middle of March, and I am trying to find which mountain I should focus on - Heavenly or Squaw?

I prefer the blues and blacks, but I will have 5 green skiers with me (including my 4 year old son), so I want to make sure that there is plenty of variety for them.

Also, if I stay at heavenly, which side of the mountain is easier for the green skiers to get to the good stuff for them.


Thanks so much for your help.
Nice thing about Kirkwood - it's right by the South Lake Tahoe. Nice casinos, if that's your thing. If you ski at Squaw you'll be either staying in Reno and driving for a bit, or paying through the nose for lodging.

Squaw's a great mountain but it really shines for steep skiing. Given what you like to ski you'll probably have a better experience at Kirkwood.

Haven't been to Heavenly for years. Nothing really stood out about the place, which is why I never went back. There are far more memorable experiences to be had elsewhere.
post #5 of 23
What I like about Squaw is that the beginners area and the lodge is midway up the mountain, so everyone gets to enjoy the views and the feeling of being in the mountains. They also have tons of things like the ice skating rink for non skiers in the group.

Heavenly's california side does have that spectacular view, but the narrow trails are so crowded its almost dangerous. The only good skiing to be had is on the Nevada side, which is a loong traverse away if you ever want to make your way back for say lunch.

Also consider the lesser known resorts like Homewood, Mt. Rose etc.
post #6 of 23
Just compare the season pass price and you know which one is better.

Heavenly season pass is 399 and it inlcudes three (or four) days lift tickets at the Vail resorts in Colorado (Vail, Brek....)

Squaw season pass is 1200(if you buy real early like in August-Sept.)
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaingirl1961
Nice thing about Kirkwood - it's right by the South Lake Tahoe. Nice casinos, if that's your thing.
Hmm, they must have moved it since I was last there, then, when it was way up in the mountains, a long way west of Lake Tahoe. Are you sure you're not confusing it with somewhere else?

My tip for a really nice experience for beginners and more experienced alike is Northstar. Best thing, though,is to do 3 or 4 in the same area - Northstar, Squaw, Alpine Meadows, say.
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by J2R
Hmm, they must have moved it since I was last there, then, when it was way up in the mountains, a long way west of Lake Tahoe. Are you sure you're not confusing it with somewhere else?

My tip for a really nice experience for beginners and more experienced alike is Northstar. Best thing, though,is to do 3 or 4 in the same area - Northstar, Squaw, Alpine Meadows, say.
Just came back from Tahoe, and the advice on Northstar seems just about right (although we didn't ski there due to rain). Heavenly's CA side has the Powderbowl Lift for beginners, and frankly any other Groomed run on the entire mountain can be handled by slow-skiing greenies. But, be prepared to traverse, seemingly uphill, for loooooong stretches. Views are great, lifts good, but not much else. Squaw we did for 1 beautiful day, and while it is much more interesting/challenging than H., Grooming is less proficient, on-purpose of course.

Sierra at Tahoe could be your best bet, and it's only 15 minute drive. Kwood, seems grand but don't know it.

Suerte!
post #9 of 23
Squaw and as previously mentioned, the beginner area is large and 2000ft up the mountain so they get the whole experience. Great place to ski!
post #10 of 23
well, since youre just asking about heavenly and squaw; thats what i'm asnwering. i'm not going to get you to thinking about some other mountain. if you want an opinon of all in the tahoe area, let us know; we'll answer.
since youre looking blues+blacks and have 5 green skiers; i'd say heavenly. i have skied both as a beginner and thought that there wasnt much at squaw for me to ski as a beginner. now, that i can ski most anything, squaw has a lot more to offer me. if you look at their trailmap; theres only a few designated greens and squaw's trails are not marked as well as heavenly.
heavenly has lots of greens and blues(most blues coming off ridge run) that any beginner can ski on the california side and there are some easy blues off the gondola too.
squaw has more steep, but that doesnt appear what youre asking or you probably would have not mentioned blues for yourself at all.
i'd say go to heavenly, and drive or take the bus to squaw one day to check it out, but i can ski all real beginner trails at squaw in a day easy.
post #11 of 23
Skied 3 areas at Tahoe last winter. Heavenly was my least favorite (confusing layout) BUT, it is worth it just for the view of the Lake on a "bluebird" day. I also had some "greenies" with me and they loved Sierra At Tahoe (great green runs all the way down from the top of the mountain). My favorite was definitely Sqaw Valley. Many of their blue runs can be skied by "greenies"--because they are so wide and well groomed. Actually, all the areas around Tahoe are so close that you don't have to limit yourself to just one (or even two) areas.
post #12 of 23
Squaw in a heartbeat. I just hated all the traversing at Heavenly. Although, Heavenly does have some great tree skiing.
post #13 of 23
I'd vote Heavenly, although there are plenty of things I don't like about the place.

The cruisers in Nevada are very good, and are probably easily doable by your son. It's a bit lacking in terms of blacks and steep stuff, but as others have mentioned, the trees are supreme, and there are difficult runs (the canyons, gunbarrel).

The views are unbeatable- I've been to plenty of ski resorts all over the world, and the view from Sky Express is really remarkable. There's no long drive home, the gondola puts you smack in the middle of south lake, and there's plenty of stuff to do there after skiing.

Take a side trip to Kirkwood for truly good stuff.
post #14 of 23
Heavenly and squaw are my 2 favourite ski areas. in tahoe. I am an advanced skier. If I am skiing on my own - I would go to squaw. If I am skiing with other blue/green skiers - Heavenly wins hands down - no contest. The
amount and variety of easy groomers(easy tree runs too) available - especially on the nevada side - is unbeatable. and all of them are accesible by express lifts.

(frankly i don't understand the fascination with Kirkwood) don't get me wrong - its a nice resort, with good snow and interesting runs. but the lack of express lifts and the variety of terrain - prevents me from making more than one or two trips a year to kirkwood.
post #15 of 23
My first season I did both Heavenly and Squaw. I vote Squaw for easy green and blue at mid mnt and wide open spaces. Should be plenty of challenges as well for you. A bit of a drive from so. shore however especially if you have to go up the east side of the lake due to road closures. If you choose Squaw I would stay on the north shore.
post #16 of 23
I suggest that you go to any ski area other than Squaw and Heavenly. I promise you will have a better Tahoe Ski experience.

I just confirmed that again yesterday, I left the house intending to Ski @ Squaw Valley, I followed the long line of Cars into the resort, took a look @ the massive parking LOTS. I then remembered the long march through the village to actually get to snow, (Or the Tram Cattle call) I turned around and drove to Home wood. Parked Up to the Snow bank where the beginner area starts, Skated to the ticket area, Stepped out of my skies, Walked 15' Bought my 40$ all day ticket. I then bought a Burger from the outdoor BBQ, walked the 20' back to my skis, skated to the lift, ate burger while riding the first chair. I had a VERY GOOD relaxing day skiing!! It was a nice change from my usual Mt.Rose day. Squaw Valley would have been an exhausting hassle.

MTT
post #17 of 23

Squaw with less hassle

Following MTT's post, I usually don't find Squaw to be a hassle at all, and here are a few bits of info that are helpful:

First, weekdays are not crowded at Squaw, weekends can be crowded so get there before 8:45.
Second, a parking tip, even for crowded days: park near Far East lift, walk ~35 yards to lift ticket windows where the line might be up to 2 people, walk back 50 yards to lift & head up. You ski back to your car at the end of the day.
Third, get discount lift tickets at REI.
Fourth, MTT is correct that other Tahoe resorts have a lot to offer, and you should check them out as well.
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dino
Following MTT's post, I usually don't find Squaw to be a hassle at all, .
Yea but the question is compared to what?
There is soo much easier, accessible, cheaper terrain around the Lake.
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaingirl1961
Nice thing about Kirkwood - it's right by the South Lake Tahoe. Nice casinos, if that's your thing. If you ski at Squaw you'll be either staying in Reno and driving for a bit, or paying through the nose for lodging.

Squaw's a great mountain but it really shines for steep skiing. Given what you like to ski you'll probably have a better experience at Kirkwood.

Haven't been to Heavenly for years. Nothing really stood out about the place, which is why I never went back. There are far more memorable experiences to be had elsewhere.
Kirkwood sucks unless you're BAD or GOOD.

I have a pass there. I like it. but as far as getting to it (from ANYWHERE) on a vacation, with a cluster**** of kids, rental stuff, beginners....it bites.

Don't go there.

Heavenly? Fine. And the beginner stuff is at the top of the mountain on the california side too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT
I suggest that you go to any ski area other than Squaw and Heavenly. I promise you will have a better Tahoe Ski experience.

I just confirmed that again yesterday, I left the house intending to Ski @ Squaw Valley, I followed the long line of Cars into the resort, took a look @ the massive parking LOTS. I then remembered the long march through the village to actually get to snow, (Or the Tram Cattle call) I turned around and drove to Home wood. Parked Up to the Snow bank where the beginner area starts, Skated to the ticket area, Stepped out of my skies, Walked 15' Bought my 40$ all day ticket. I then bought a Burger from the outdoor BBQ, walked the 20' back to my skis, skated to the lift, ate burger while riding the first chair. I had a VERY GOOD relaxing day skiing!! It was a nice change from my usual Mt.Rose day. Squaw Valley would have been an exhausting hassle.

MTT
I'd stay in Tahoe City/Kings Beach/North Shore area for a family vacation. Even west shore.

Do Homewood on the weekends. It's REALLY fun.

Go to Squaw and Northstar on your weekdays.
post #20 of 23
If you were skiing at Kirkwood, Heavenly, Squaw or other high mountain areas on Sunday or today, you got blown out of the place. Its just amazing how small a mountain gets when there are wind holds. On the other hand, you could have been cruising sunny sheltered slopes at Homewood or Sierra, and had a great day on the entire mountain. Saturday was sunny and calm all over. A great day to be on the big mountains.

Be flexible, and plan day by day according to what the weather and crowds throws at you. The best way to a good time in Tahoe is don't get too set on a long-range plan. Enjoy the many choices.
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
If you were skiing at Kirkwood, Heavenly, Squaw or other high mountain areas on Sunday or today, you got blown out of the place. Its just amazing how small a mountain gets when there are wind holds. On the other hand, you could have been cruising sunny sheltered slopes at Homewood or Sierra, and had a great day on the entire mountain. Saturday was sunny and calm all over. A great day to be on the big mountains.

Be flexible, and plan day by day according to what the weather and crowds throws at you. The best way to a good time in Tahoe is don't get too set on a long-range plan. Enjoy the many choices.

I thought Northstar is the only sheltered slope, but Homewood and Sierra?
post #22 of 23

Squaw a comparative hassle? No.

MTT - When I say "I usually don't find Squaw to be a hassle at all" - I mean "at all." FWIW, that's compared to anywhere. I've pretty much skied everywhere in Tahoe over 30 years, Utah, Whistler, Italy, and Austria.

Mebbe I just have a high tolerance for hassle. For instance, if you've ever had half a dozen Austrians in neon one-pieces stand on the backs of your skis in a 45 minute lift line while Italians speak rapidly on their "telefoninos", then you know what true hassle means.

When I go to Squaw, I don't stand in lines, and I don't have to park too far. I think the longest wait for a chair in the last few years was about 5-7 minutes on Headwall or Granite Chief. Compared to Whistler, the lift lines are non-existent.

I like Homewood, Alpine Meadows, Mt. Rose, and Sugar Bowl, but I don't find them to be any more "convenient" than Squaw in any way that matters to me. Usually hit each of these resorts a few times a year. Kirkwood is great for better skiers, and I love it, but beginners might not like the terrain there. If someone is in Tahoe for a week or two, then I suggest they ask about each of check these places too.

FWIW, I used to ski Heavenly (more on the Nevada side) about 10 days a year, but haven't found it that enjoyable for many years because the lift layout is patchwork. I have also found Northstar has longer lift lines (maybe just on weekends?) than other Tahoe resorts I like better.

If the someone wants to try Squaw, then he should try some of the tips I suggested (which others have suggested as well), including going there on a weekday. If not, then he'll have a great time at other resorts.
post #23 of 23
Family ski vacation with kids and green run skiers? Forget Squaw!

If you like the casinos go for Heavenly. If you hate gambling maybe Northstar? Homewood?

Kirkwood should not be considered for your group.

Note that my favorites are Squaw and Kirkwood, but I don't have little ski kids to consider.

Just my 2-cents.
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