Lake Tahoe is one of the most diverse, densely packed ski destinations in the United States, offering more than a dozen ski resorts lining the shores and greater region of the lake. Some of the largest, snowiest and most challenging ski mountains in the country are concentrated around the lake, which straddles the Nevada-California border. Choosing the right lodging will help you get the most out of your Lake Tahoe ski trip.
The Lake Tahoe Visitor and Convention Bureau defines two separate regions of Lake Tahoe: North and South. On the North Shore, visitors will find the majority of the region's ski resorts, including Squaw Valley, Northstar-at-Tahoe and Alpine Meadows. The South Shore is home to Heavenly, Kirkwood and Sierra-at-Tahoe. Only two resorts are wholly located on the Nevada side, and both are in the North Tahoe section: Mt. Rose and Diamond Peak. Heavenly sits on the border of California and Nevada.
With 4,000 or more acres of terrain, resorts like Squaw Valley and Heavenly rank among the largest in the United States. As you might expect, these ski resorts have all the top amenities including plenty of slope-side hotels and lodging facilities. At Squaw Valley, properties like the 405-room Resort at Squaw Creek, a luxury resort ranked among the top 50 best resorts in North America by Conde Nast Traveler, and the condominium-based Olympic Village Inn provide slope-side lodging. The Resort at Squaw Creek sits at the base of the resort and has a full-service spa, health and fitness center and Mountain Buddies, a program for children. At Heavenly, you'll find the Tahoe Seasons Resort in the California base area and The Ridge in the Nevada base area. The Tahoe Seasons is an all-suite property with an outdoor pool, tennis courts, an on-site restaurant and room service. Smaller ski resorts like Granlibakken and Kirkwood also have slope-side accommodations.
Resorts Without Slope-Side Lodging
Resorts that don't have slope-side lodging include Alpine Meadows, Mt. Rose, Diamond Peak and Homewood. A number of shuttles provide service between these resorts and outside hotels. The fact that the resort facilities are limited doesn't mean they're not worth a stop. Skiing magazine voted Mt. Rose its "Most Underrated Mountain" in 2010, stating "One minute, you’re beating the house at Reno’s Silver Legacy casino. Thirty minutes later, you’re doubling down on a 50-degree, 1,500-foot slot in Mount Rose’s backcountry-style Chutes, which opened in 2004. Why hasn’t everyone else figured it out yet?" Diamond Peak offers a variety of glade and advanced skiing.
One of the most interesting draws of Lake Tahoe is that it combines Nevada's gambling and nightlife with snow-covered mountains. While there are no casinos on the California side, the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe is home to 10 casinos, five in the north and five in the south. The best resort for combining skiing with casinos is Heavenly, where you'll find all five of South Lake Tahoe's casinos concentrated down the street from the Heavenly gondola. In the north, properties like the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino and the Cal Neva have shuttle service to select ski resorts around the lake. Another one of Conde Nast's top 50 ski resorts in North America, the Hyatt provides complimentary shuttle service and discount lift tickets for select resorts and has a gym and spa as well as several restaurants. The Cal Neva advertises "spectacular views of Lake Tahoe from every room." It offers a variety of accommodations, from rooms and suites to cabins and chalets. Ask about ski transportation, discount lift tickets and ski-and-stay packages when booking a room at a casino resort.
- view at lake tahoe, california from the mountains. image by Galina Barskaya from Fotolia.com