There are some incredible Lake Tahoe ski resorts just waiting to be discovered…
The azure, crystalline waters of majestic Lake Tahoe are set high up in the Sierra Nevada mountains at 6255 feet.
This vast and beautiful lake features spectacular scenery, sandy beaches, vibrant lakeside towns, a wealth of activities, laid-back California cool, and some excellent world class ski resorts that are just a day trip away from Sacramento and San Francisco.
Lake Tahoe is one of the most unique skiing destinations in the world, and is a skiers paradise.
This is your guide to the 6 best Lake Tahoe ski resorts…
The Best Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe
Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort
Heavenly Mountain ski resort really is just that — heavenly.
With breathtaking views out across Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the contrast of the desert, this is the highest ski resort in the area.
Skiers and snowboarders can expect an annual average of 360 inches of snowfall on Heavenly Mountain, over 4,800 acres packed with open, groomed cruisers, tree skiing, challenging chutes and rock drops, multiple terrain parks, and Alpine bowls.
The vertical drop here is 3,500 feet, and the longest run a incredible 5.5 miles long.
45% of the terrain here is made up of blue runs, making it very incredibly popular among intermediate level skiers who love the diverse skiing and snowboarding on offer.
Take a look at this awesome video to get a real feel for it:
Only 20% of the 97 trails here are suitable for beginners, but there are still plenty of green runs for novice skiers to discover, and there are two areas when total beginners can learn to ski.
Advanced and expert terrain covers the remaining 35%, with double black diamond runs and steep chutes for the most expert skiers.
Off the slopes Heavenly Mountain ski resort is infamous for its sensational après-ski and nightlife.
Packed with crowds who like to party well into the early hours, the most popular place to start the night off with a bang is Unbuckle bar at Tamarack Lodge with happy hours, go-go dancers, drinking games and resident DJs.
To carry on the party head to one of the many casinos to take in a live show, or a nightclub to dance the night away. For a calmer, more family oriented stay, the base villages have a wealth of pubs, bars and restaurants.
Eclectic shopping came be found at Heavenly Village, with everything from fashion boutiques to art galleries.
Where to Stay: Alder Inn
Situated on South Lake Tahoe, this 3 star boutique hotel in the mountains is conveniently situated for the ski slopes, and only 1 mile from Heavenly Village.
Rooms are cozy and comfortable with tasteful eclectic decor, luxury sheets, microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers, and flat screen TVs.
There are plenty of amenities at the hotel, including a BBQ grill, ping pong, a heated swimming pool, and outdoor hot tubs where you can soothe your aching limbs after a hard day on the slopes.
Complimentary bicycles are on offer, as well as a convenient shuttle service.
- Swimming pool
- Hot tubs
- Shuttle service
With an incredible average annual snowfall of 450 inches and an extra long ski season, Squaw Valley in North Lake Tahoe boasts some impressive skiing and snowboarding opportunities in around 3,600 acres of terrain.
What’s more, since Squaw Valley acquired the adjacent Alpine Meadows ski resort, it’s now possible to take a shuttle between the two on the same ticket, increasing the ski-able terrain available to an enormous 6,000 acres.
Squaw Valley has a vertical drop of 2,851 feet, and is especially popular with advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders thanks to its wide variety of extreme terrain including 16 bowls, crazy steeps, cliffs, black runs, and tree runs.
Although this might seems intimidating for beginners, 22% of the 270 runs are suitable for novices, but being at high altitude they can get a little windy. For intermediates there are an abundance of well groomed blue trails.
Squaw Valley is internationally renowned for excellent skiing, and because of this it is one of the more crowded resorts, so if you’re after finding a little solitude this may not be for you.
That said, it has an excellent reputation for a reason, and if you can put up with the crowds it makes for an amazing ski and snowboard vacation.
For wind down time at Squaw Valley, there’s plenty to do at both base village and high camp. This is a place deep rooted in ski culture, and the atmosphere is authentic.
There are free live bands playing on the slopes all throughout winter, and a wealth of relaxed bars for drinking beers or fine wines — or you can even have a drink at high elevation at the Ice Bar in High Camp.
Nightlife at Squaw Valley is fairly tame throughout the week, but tends to hot up at weekends, with more bars staying open late into the night.
To satisfy your stomach, there is a huge choice of dining options here, including upscale European restaurants, Japanese and Mexican restaurants, cafes and delis and much more.
Sports shops, luxuries comestibles, art, the latest fashions, and a yoga boutique (part of the village’s yoga studio) are just some of the offerings available for shopaholics. There’s also an award winning luxury spa.
Where to Stay: Resort at Squaw Creek
Nestling at the base of the Squaw Valley ski area, the 4 star Resort at Squaw Creek offers luxury lodgings in an idyllic mountain setting.
Rooms and suites feature huge windows giving spectacular views out across the surrounding mountains, meadows and pine forests, and are decorated in soothing, neutral tones.
All rooms come equipped with flat screen TVs and en suite bathrooms, and elegant suites feature fireplaces and kitchenettes.
There are six different restaurants on site, all of which use produce from the resort’s very own hydroponic garden.
Dining options include a contemporary steak house with award winning wines, a laid back mountainside bistro dishing up hearty burgers and more, an exceptional breakfast buffet, and an Italian pizzeria.
There is a luxurious spa with tranquility room, a heated swimming pool, a championship golf course, and more. Resort at Squaw Creek also offers a convenient ski-in / ski-out service.
- 6 dining options
- Ski-in / ski out
- Heated swimming pools
- Luxury spa
- Fitness center
- Championship golf course
- Children’s club
- Ice skating rink
Diehard skiers and snowboarders flock to Kirkwood ski resort for the hardcore terrain, the steep slopes and the 500 inches seasonal fall of the glorious white stuff.
Although it has undergone a lot of improvement in recent years, this resort remains a no frills, only for the thrills destination, with 2,300 acres of skiable terrain, a vertical drop of 2,000 feet, and an unbeatable authentic ambience.
There are 87 marked trails at Kirkwood, most of which are perfect for advanced and expert skiers, with tight tree runs, alpine bowls, natural pipes, rock jumps, chutes and more.
For beginners and intermediates there is a lot less on offer (only 12% of terrain for beginners and 20% for intermediates), but there is nevertheless enough to keep busy with for a few days.
It’s worth noting that ski lifts are minimal here (only 4) and give access to lower trails only, so to search out the really good stuff you have to be prepared for a little hiking.
Due to the nature of the terrain at Kirkwood, this Lake Tahoe ski resort escapes the crowds, in favor of attracting a select group of serious skiers and snowboarders.
The vibe at Kirkwood is a friendly, bona fide ski culture, and the resort is a lot more basic than other Lake Tahoe ski resorts.
There is a small ski village with a few sports shops, restaurants and bars, but choice is limited. However there is one upscale restaurant, a steakhouse grill, and a couple of places to get a reasonably priced beer. The majority of people who come to Kirkwood choose to self cater, and there’s a small general store on site.
Where to Stay: Kirkwood Resort
All guests staying at Kirkwood resort have great access to the slopes, as it is only a short walk to the ski lift in the village.
Guest rooms and condos benefit from flat screen cable TV, balconies, microwaves and refrigerators, and some condos feature fireplaces, complimentary WiFi, and full kitchens.
Ski lockers are available free of charge, and guests get access to laundry facilities, hot tubs, fitness equipment, swimming pool and sauna. There is a bar, grill and cafe on site.
- Access to shared amenities
- Close to the slopes
- Self catering facilities
- Great views
This high end resort has a reputation for being one of the best Lake Tahoe ski resorts for families, but with a varied mix of terrain and plenty to do it makes for a great ski and snowboard destination for everybody.
Covering 3,000 acres and with 350 inches average seasonal snowfall and a vertical drop of 2,280 feet, Northstar boasts 100 runs, 16% of which are designated beginner class.
There is a large dedicated area just for beginners which comprises a ski school. A massive 60% of runs are blue, and are perfect for average or intermediate skiers.
All the blue runs are serviced by the resort’s 20 chairlifts, and are renowned for being exceptionally well groomed, offering progressive terrain that is perfect for improving your skills.
Advanced skiers have their choice of 30% of the ski-able terrain, with moguls, steeps, tree skiing, and glades. That said, the more adventurous skier may find Northstar a little tame for their tastes. The resort also features some amazing terrain parks for different levels of ability.
As you would expect from a luxury ski destination, there are some exceptional facilities at Northstar ski resort Lake Tahoe, including plenty for little ones like a huge ski school, a minor’s camp, tubing, pottery painting and ice skating.
The après-ski is lively and friendly, with live music venues and cozy bars- – including the Chocolate Bar which serves chocolate based cocktails — but there is little in the way of nightlife late into the night as most places close down at a respectable hour.
Restaurants are aplenty, with plenty of contemporary American restaurants as well as Mexican and Asian offerings and high end dining. Northstar offers some great shopping too, including winter clothing and ski equipment, designer brands, jewelry, souvenirs and children’s items.
Where to Stay: The Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe
For the ultimate luxury vacation, check yourself into the 5 star The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, set mid-mountain.
Rooms, suites and residences at the hotel offer floor to ceiling windows with views of the surrounding natural beauty, gas fireplaces, and spacious layouts with flat screen televisions, marble en suite bathrooms and other luxurious touches.
Lake Tahoe inspired treatments to awake the senses, soothe the body and renew the spirit can be experienced at the hotel spa, and include a detoxing dry heat lodge, eucalyptus steam room, and heated pool overlooking the snow covered slopes.
Guests can enjoy artfully crafted cuisine combining classical techniques and a modern culinary philosophy at the Manzanita fine dining restaurant, a casual, intimate meal at The Living Room restaurant with roaring fireplace, or ski-in/ski-out outdoor dining on the patio at the relaxed Backyard Bar & BBQ. There is also a cocktail bar and cafe.
- Ski-in / ski-out
- Swimming pool
- Luxury spa
- Fitness center
- Multiple dining options
- Multiple bars
- Mountain concierge service
- Ritz kids’ club
- Mountain views
Sierra at Tahoe
Want 2,000 ski-able acres and 2,212 vertical feet of dynamic terrain with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe?
Come to Sierra at Tahoe in Twin Bridges, California where the snow is deep (480 inches average annual snowfall) and the ski is first rate.
14 lifts service the 46 runs, which are divided into 25% beginner runs, 50% blue runs for intermediates, 15% advanced and 10% experts.
Beginner slopes are nicely varied, and there are some easy green runs to progress to. Advanced and expert skiers will appreciate the excellent tree skiing, pillows, steep chutes and rock jumps.
There are also 6 good terrain parks for freestylers including one with halfpipe and one with a BoarderX course. The resort also provides 5 backcountry access gates into Huckleberry Canyon for backcountry skiing.
Sierra at Tahoe is a simple, family oriented Lake Tahoe ski resort with a laid back vibe.
Unfortunately there is little else for adults to do here other than ski or snowboard, and it is necessary to commute into the resort as there is no on site accommodation.
The base lodge (where you’ll find the ski and snowboard school and children’s day care) does have a few restaurants and bars to get your après-ski fix, but you’re better off coming here just for the snow and then heading elsewhere for après-ski fun.
There is a plus side to this though as it means the resort is less busy than it might otherwise be.
Where to Stay: Apex Inn South Lake Tahoe
A short commute from Sierra at Tahoe resort, Apex Inn South Lake Tahoe is a conveniently situated 2 star motel with clean, quiet King bed, Queen bed and Double bed rooms in a serene Alpine location.
Within walking distance to nearby restaurants, shops, and bars, beaches and casinos, the newly renovated Apex Inn offers free high speed WiFi, a barbecue and picnic area, cable TV, and coffee making facilities at a very reasonable price.
- Newly renovated rooms
- Close to nearby facilities
- Barbecue and picnic facilities
Donner Ski Ranch
Located high atop historic Donner Summit, Donner Ski Ranch has been operating for half a century.
Although at only 400 acres of terrain it is pretty tiny, Donner Ski Ranch is family run with an old school feel that keeps things simple, fun and effective.
This Lake Tahoe ski resort receives around 396 annual inches of snowfall, and has a vertical drop of 750 feet.
There’s an emphasis on teaching and learning here, which is reflected in the 45 runs being divided into the 25% beginner trails, 50% intermediate, and 25% advanced runs.
Lessons are offered for all ages — starting with children as young as three years of age — and ski and snowboard rental packages are available. Fun can be had on the tubing hill when you want a change from skiing.
This is an affordable resort, where families and learners are encouraged, but there is little here for more independent skiers and snowboarders who may find themselves seeking action elsewhere after a couple of days.
The slopes are serviced by 6 ski lifts and there is a bar and grill on site for when you need to relax after a hard day’s skiing before heading back to your off-site accommodation.
Convenient parking is located just a few steps away from the base of the mountain.
Where to Stay: Donner Lake Inn B&B
Your ideal place to stay for a skiing vacation on Donner Ski Ranch, Donner Lake Inn is a 4 star rated bed and breakfast lodge style hotel offering five contemporary rooms looking out over beautiful Donner Lake.
Shared living spaces are comfortable and have a home away from home feel, with the lounge area having a library, wood burning fire, and french doors opening out onto the 30 lake with stunning views.
The five charming guest rooms all feature fireplaces, private bathrooms with shower, comfy window seats with forest views, bathrobes, flat screen televisions and high-end linens.
Plus there is an outdoor creekside hot tub for relaxing whilst watching the stars.
Guests can enjoy a hearty, homemade country breakfast freshly made each morning, served in the dining area or on the deck facing the lake.
- Award winning service
- Lovely lakeside location
- En suite rooms with fireplaces
- Breakfast included
- Hot tub
- Close to ski resorts
Which do you think are the best Lake Tahoe ski resorts?