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6 Best Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe, 2022/23

6 Best Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe, 2022/23
Ron Thompson
Written by Ron Thompson / Photos by Greg Burke
Last updated May 20, 2022

Having spent years skiing in Lake Tahoe and living at the foot of Heavenly, I’ve come up with the top 6 ski resorts in Lake Tahoe that you need to visit! I’ll give you the lowdown on the terrain, crowds, town – both the good and bad. The list is subjective but I'm sure it'll impress!

Tamarack chair on a powder day Heavenly Mountain Resort
Tamarack chair on a powder day

Why Ski Heavenly

The largest and highest ski area in Lake Tahoe, Heavenly has great skiing and an even better après scene! The resort has four base areas, the main one being Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe. This is where you’ll find a wide selection of hotels, restaurants, pubs, casinos and nightclubs. The Heavenly Gondola connects the base village to the slopes. On-mountain, you can enjoy spectacular views of Lake Tahoe while skiing down wide-open groomers or through peaceful pine forests. Since it’s the most popular resort in the area, crowds can be a problem here.

Where to Stay

South Lake Tahoe (California) and Stateline (Nevada) are the two main areas to stay and are separated by the border line.

South Lake Tahoe Area

Stay in Heavenly Village to have close access to the Heavenly Gondola and a variety of entertainment, dining and shopping options. Lakefront lodging is a short shuttle away from the gondola and entertainment scene, but you’ll have stunning views of Lake Tahoe.

Stateline Area

This is where you’ll find all the casinos, while only being a short walk from the Heavenly Gondola and more entertainment in South Lake Tahoe.

Getting Around

If you’re staying centrally in South Lake Tahoe or Stateline, everything you need is within walking distance. To travel to the resort’s other base lodges, the Tahoe Transportation District operates a number of paid bus services from Stateline and South Lake Tahoe.

Known for

Entertaining base village with Tahoe Casinos nearby

Highlights

  • Fun party atmosphere at base
  • Spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and the desert
  • Tons of lodging options keep prices competitive
  • Crowds can be a problem here

22/23 Ski Season:

  • Opening Date: Nov 18 2022
  • Closing Date: Apr 17 2023(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Reno-Tahoe Intl. Airport - 56 miles (1 hour drive)
Map View
Tamarack chair on a powder day Heavenly Mountain Resort
Tamarack chair on a powder day

Why Ski Heavenly

The largest and highest ski area in Lake Tahoe, Heavenly has great skiing and an even better après scene! The resort has four base areas, the main one being Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe. This is where you’ll find a wide selection of hotels, restaurants, pubs, casinos and nightclubs. The Heavenly Gondola connects the base village to the slopes. On-mountain, you can enjoy spectacular views of Lake Tahoe while skiing down wide-open groomers or through peaceful pine forests. Since it’s the most popular resort in the area, crowds can be a problem here.

Where to Stay

South Lake Tahoe (California) and Stateline (Nevada) are the two main areas to stay and are separated by the border line.

South Lake Tahoe Area

Stay in Heavenly Village to have close access to the Heavenly Gondola and a variety of entertainment, dining and shopping options. Lakefront lodging is a short shuttle away from the gondola and entertainment scene, but you’ll have stunning views of Lake Tahoe.

Stateline Area

This is where you’ll find all the casinos, while only being a short walk from the Heavenly Gondola and more entertainment in South Lake Tahoe.

Getting Around

If you’re staying centrally in South Lake Tahoe or Stateline, everything you need is within walking distance. To travel to the resort’s other base lodges, the Tahoe Transportation District operates a number of paid bus services from Stateline and South Lake Tahoe.

Views of Lake Tahoe from Squaw Valley
Views of Lake Tahoe from Olympic Valley

Why Ski Palisades Tahoe

Palisades Tahoe combines two ski areas, Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows, to be the largest ski resort in California. There’s something for everyone but it's best known for its advanced and expert terrain, with big open bowls, classic moguls, cliff drops, gullies … the list goes on. The base village in Olympic Valley has a vibrant après-ski atmosphere with many restaurants and lodgings to choose from, but with such a reputation comes crowds. Alpine Meadows on the other hand is often overlooked which means you’ll find quieter slopes.

Where to Stay

Lodging at the resort is only available at the base of the Olympic Valley ski area. Stay here to be close to the slopes and the shops and restaurants in the village. Staying in Truckee can be a more affordable option. The town is a 15 minute drive away and is a good base if you’re planning to visit other nearby resorts.

Getting Around

Everything you need in the Olympic Valley base area is within walking distance. The Palisades Tahoe Shuttle runs continuously between the base area of Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm during the Winter season. The TART Regional Transit operates a free service between the Olympic Valley base area, Truckee and Tahoe City.

Known for

Wide variety of extreme terrain, vibrant ski culture and Olympic heritage

Highlights

  • Largest ski resort in California
  • Legendary reputation for high snowfall and notorious steeps
  • High standard of grooming on steep trails
  • Crowds and long lines on powder days

22/23 Ski Season:

  • Opening Date: Nov 18 2022
  • Closing Date: May 29 2023(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Reno-Tahoe Intl. Airport - 47 miles (50 minute drive)
Map View
Views of Lake Tahoe from Squaw Valley
Views of Lake Tahoe from Olympic Valley

Why Ski Palisades Tahoe

Palisades Tahoe combines two ski areas, Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows, to be the largest ski resort in California. There’s something for everyone but it's best known for its advanced and expert terrain, with big open bowls, classic moguls, cliff drops, gullies … the list goes on. The base village in Olympic Valley has a vibrant après-ski atmosphere with many restaurants and lodgings to choose from, but with such a reputation comes crowds. Alpine Meadows on the other hand is often overlooked which means you’ll find quieter slopes.

Where to Stay

Lodging at the resort is only available at the base of the Olympic Valley ski area. Stay here to be close to the slopes and the shops and restaurants in the village. Staying in Truckee can be a more affordable option. The town is a 15 minute drive away and is a good base if you’re planning to visit other nearby resorts.

Getting Around

Everything you need in the Olympic Valley base area is within walking distance. The Palisades Tahoe Shuttle runs continuously between the base area of Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm during the Winter season. The TART Regional Transit operates a free service between the Olympic Valley base area, Truckee and Tahoe City.

Thimble Peak at Kirkwood Lake Tahoe
Thimble Peak

Why Ski Kirkwood

Kirkwood is known for its peaceful, unspoiled scenery and is best suited for the experienced. The terrain is spread across five peaks and two main base areas, Mountain Village and Timber Creek. More than half of the resort’s runs are rated advanced to expert and their legendary black diamond runs are not to be missed. There are some downfalls; you won't find much in the way of dining, shopping or entertainment, and it’s not located near any big towns. But if you’re happy to spend your day just skiing or snowboarding, you’ll enjoy this relatively uncrowded mountain.

Where to Stay

There are a number of lodging options in the base area where you’ll be close to the slopes. Dining options are limited but you’ll find most of them in the Mountain Village base area. Staying near the Timber Creek base area will give you better access to the beginner slopes and the ski school.

Getting Around

An in-resort courtesy shuttle system travels between the base areas and parking lots. The service runs every 5-12 minutes. A car is recommended to travel to neighbouring towns.

Known for

Local-vibe mountain with arguably Lake Tahoe's most challenging terrain

Highlights

  • Adventurous in-bound terrain
  • Fewer crowds
  • Deepest snow in all of Tahoe
  • 45-minute drive south of Lake Tahoe, crossing over two passes

22/23 Ski Season:

  • Opening Date: Dec 02 2022(Estimated open date based on historical data)
  • Closing Date: May 01 2023(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Reno-Tahoe Intl. Airport - 80 miles (1.5 hour drive)
Map View
Thimble Peak at Kirkwood Lake Tahoe
Thimble Peak

Why Ski Kirkwood

Kirkwood is known for its peaceful, unspoiled scenery and is best suited for the experienced. The terrain is spread across five peaks and two main base areas, Mountain Village and Timber Creek. More than half of the resort’s runs are rated advanced to expert and their legendary black diamond runs are not to be missed. There are some downfalls; you won't find much in the way of dining, shopping or entertainment, and it’s not located near any big towns. But if you’re happy to spend your day just skiing or snowboarding, you’ll enjoy this relatively uncrowded mountain.

Where to Stay

There are a number of lodging options in the base area where you’ll be close to the slopes. Dining options are limited but you’ll find most of them in the Mountain Village base area. Staying near the Timber Creek base area will give you better access to the beginner slopes and the ski school.

Getting Around

An in-resort courtesy shuttle system travels between the base areas and parking lots. The service runs every 5-12 minutes. A car is recommended to travel to neighbouring towns.

Northstar base
Northstar base

Why Ski Northstar California

Northstar is one of the more family-friendly mountains and offers an upscale ski experience. It has the best base village out of all the Tahoe resorts, with a charming European feel and lined with dining, shopping and spas. There are plenty of activities to keep the kids occupied, including ice skating, tubing, a cinema and a children’s ski school program. That being said, it’s a relatively expensive resort. Northstar’s slopes are geared more towards intermediate skiers, while there are award-winning terrain parks that cater to all levels.

Where to Stay

Northstar Village is located at the base of the mountain and is the heart of the resort. Stay here to be close to the slopes, restaurants, shops and activities. You’ll also find a few lodging options mid-mountain that offer ski-in/ski-out access. If you’re planning on skiing at other resorts, staying in Truckee can be a good option. The town is just a 15 minute drive away.

Getting Around

A gondola connects the pedestrian-friendly Northstar Village to the mid-mountain area. The TART Regional Transit operates free services between the resort, Truckee and Kings Beach. If you’re driving to the resort, keep in mind that the parking spots can get filled out quickly.

Known for

Upscale family-friendly ski resort

Highlights

  • Luxurious and vibrant base village with plenty of dining options
  • Family-friendly
  • Some of the best intermediate terrain in Tahoe
  • Relatively expensive

22/23 Ski Season:

  • Opening Date: Nov 12 2022
  • Closing Date: Apr 17 2023(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Reno-Tahoe Intl. Airport - 42 miles (45 minute drive)
Map View
Northstar base
Northstar base

Why Ski Northstar California

Northstar is one of the more family-friendly mountains and offers an upscale ski experience. It has the best base village out of all the Tahoe resorts, with a charming European feel and lined with dining, shopping and spas. There are plenty of activities to keep the kids occupied, including ice skating, tubing, a cinema and a children’s ski school program. That being said, it’s a relatively expensive resort. Northstar’s slopes are geared more towards intermediate skiers, while there are award-winning terrain parks that cater to all levels.

Where to Stay

Northstar Village is located at the base of the mountain and is the heart of the resort. Stay here to be close to the slopes, restaurants, shops and activities. You’ll also find a few lodging options mid-mountain that offer ski-in/ski-out access. If you’re planning on skiing at other resorts, staying in Truckee can be a good option. The town is just a 15 minute drive away.

Getting Around

A gondola connects the pedestrian-friendly Northstar Village to the mid-mountain area. The TART Regional Transit operates free services between the resort, Truckee and Kings Beach. If you’re driving to the resort, keep in mind that the parking spots can get filled out quickly.

Sugar Bowl ski resort
Be prepared to be buried in pow at Sugar Bowl

Why Ski Sugar Bowl Resort

Sugar Bowl is one of the closest resorts to the San Francisco Bay Area, while also being easily accessible from Reno Airport. It’s a relatively small mountain, but there’s a variety of terrain across four mountain peaks and two main base areas. You won’t find many shops or nightlife spots in the Village and Judah base areas, but rather a classic ski atmosphere with a few dining options in each. For those who enjoy Nordic skiing, the resort is connected to the Royal Gorge Cross Country ski area. There are some crowds here but they tend to be fewer than at neighbouring resorts.

Where to Stay

Lodging options close to the slopes include The Hotel at Sugar Bowl in the Village base area, and a number of vacation rentals. You could also stay in Truckee, which is about a 20 minute drive away. The town has a variety of dining and shopping options.

Getting Around

There is a Village Pedestrian Walk connecting the two base areas and takes 5 to 10 minutes. The Judah base area offers slope-side parking, while the Village base area is snowbound and can only be accessed from the Village parking lot via a gondola.

Known for

Most accessible resort from both the Bay Area and Reno-Tahoe Intl. Airport

Highlights

  • Accessible location
  • Shorter lift lines and fewer crowds
  • Variety of terrain
  • Mid-sized ski area

22/23 Ski Season:

  • Opening Date: Dec 09 2022(Estimated open date based on historical data)
  • Closing Date: Apr 16 2023(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Reno-Tahoe Intl. Airport - 47 miles (50 minute drive)
Map View
Sugar Bowl ski resort
Be prepared to be buried in pow at Sugar Bowl

Why Ski Sugar Bowl Resort

Sugar Bowl is one of the closest resorts to the San Francisco Bay Area, while also being easily accessible from Reno Airport. It’s a relatively small mountain, but there’s a variety of terrain across four mountain peaks and two main base areas. You won’t find many shops or nightlife spots in the Village and Judah base areas, but rather a classic ski atmosphere with a few dining options in each. For those who enjoy Nordic skiing, the resort is connected to the Royal Gorge Cross Country ski area. There are some crowds here but they tend to be fewer than at neighbouring resorts.

Where to Stay

Lodging options close to the slopes include The Hotel at Sugar Bowl in the Village base area, and a number of vacation rentals. You could also stay in Truckee, which is about a 20 minute drive away. The town has a variety of dining and shopping options.

Getting Around

There is a Village Pedestrian Walk connecting the two base areas and takes 5 to 10 minutes. The Judah base area offers slope-side parking, while the Village base area is snowbound and can only be accessed from the Village parking lot via a gondola.

tree runs off Game Creek gate in Huckberry Canyon Sierra at Tahoe
Powder-filled tree runs off the Game Creek gate in Huckleberry Canyon

Why Ski Sierra at Tahoe

Sierra at Tahoe is a local’s favourite! The incredible grooming, side-country and inbounds tree skiing keeps skiers coming back every time. The mountain caters well to beginners and intermediates, and is a good choice for families. Blizzard Mountain is where you’ll find kid-friendly tubing, sledding and a snow play area. The base areas at Sierra offer great dining options, and the outdoor plaza is the spot to be for après ski, with fire pits to warm up and rest up.

Where to Stay

There’s no lodging at the base of the mountain, but South Lake Tahoe is about a 30 minute drive away. You’ll find plenty of dining, shopping and entertainment options in the area.

Getting Around

It’s convenient to have a car since there’s no lodging at the base. There are private bus services available to travel between the San Francisco Bay Area and the resort.

Known for

Local favorite with great tree-skiing

Highlights

  • Some of the best tree skiing in the Tahoe basin
  • Terrain parks for all abilities
  • Family-friendly
  • No lodging at base

22/23 Ski Season:

  • Opening Date: Dec 03 2022(Estimated open date based on historical data)
  • Closing Date: Apr 23 2023(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Reno-Tahoe Intl. Airport - 74 miles (1.5 hour drive)
Map View
tree runs off Game Creek gate in Huckberry Canyon Sierra at Tahoe
Powder-filled tree runs off the Game Creek gate in Huckleberry Canyon

Why Ski Sierra at Tahoe

Sierra at Tahoe is a local’s favourite! The incredible grooming, side-country and inbounds tree skiing keeps skiers coming back every time. The mountain caters well to beginners and intermediates, and is a good choice for families. Blizzard Mountain is where you’ll find kid-friendly tubing, sledding and a snow play area. The base areas at Sierra offer great dining options, and the outdoor plaza is the spot to be for après ski, with fire pits to warm up and rest up.

Where to Stay

There’s no lodging at the base of the mountain, but South Lake Tahoe is about a 30 minute drive away. You’ll find plenty of dining, shopping and entertainment options in the area.

Getting Around

It’s convenient to have a car since there’s no lodging at the base. There are private bus services available to travel between the San Francisco Bay Area and the resort.

6 Best Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe, 2022/23
Heavenly