A Lake Tahoe Ski Guide (For Spring Break!)

With midterms in full swing and finals just around the corner, I know I can’t be the only one thinking about spring break and making plans. Some of you may already have your sights set on Hawaii, or Florida, or someplace with sunshine and beaches where you can relax and usher in spring with a tan. But for those of you looking to stay a little closer to home and enjoy a little more winter playtime, look no further. Lake Tahoe (and some surrounding areas) are just a few hours' drive from Davis and boast some of the best skiing and snowboarding this side of the Continental U.S. Here is some information to help you choose which Tahoe ski resort to make your spring break recreational destination.

This winter season, the nearby mountain ranges have been seeing larger snowfalls than they have in years. I can’t stress this enough, the snow has never been better. Which means the skiing and snowboarding has never been better. And you’re in luck on ticket prices too. The peak season dates are over, so the prices will be down. And don’t forget that buying in bulk always gets you a deal, so why not plan to make it a weekend trip?

South Shore

Sierra-at-Tahoe

Photo courtesy of Bob Albrecht

A favorite among the South Lake Tahoe locals, Sierra-at-Tahoe is less than 2 hours away from Davis up Highway 50. The resort boasts the best tree-skiing in the Sierras; you can lose yourself for hours in the quiet, serene landscape just off the sides of the runs. It’s protected terrain also makes Sierra the best choice in bad weather, because they get less wind exposure up there. The top of the mountain delivers stunning views of Huckleberry Canyon to the South and gorgeous glimpses of Lake Tahoe to the Northwest. Not to mention they’ve got the cheapest lift ticket prices on the South Shore.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort

Photo courtesy of Kirkwood

Just a 2.5 hour drive from Davis, the Kirkwood ski resort is the main attraction of the small Kirkwood community nestled along Highway 88 south of Lake Tahoe. With 2,300 skiable acres, it is the second largest ski resort in the South Shore area. Skiing or snowboarding here will give you that deep in the mountains in the middle-of-nowhere feel. They also have extensive Nordic skiing trails that will help you truly lose yourself in the mountains.

Heavenly Mountain Resort

The Heavenly ski resort is located right at the heart of downtown South Lake Tahoe, about 2.5 hours in the car from Davis on Highway 50. Start at lake level and take a gorgeous gondola ride with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe to get to the base of the mountain at over 9,000 feet. It’s another 1,000+ feet to the resort’s peak (10,067 feet), making Heavenly the highest South Shore ski resort. It has a total of 4,800 skiable acres that straddle the state line between California and Nevada, making it also the largest mountain on the South Shore.

North Shore

Northstar California Resort

Photo courtesy of Northstar

A 2 hour drive from Davis up Highway 80, Northstar California Resort is the second highest resort on the North Shore. It’s peak stands at 8,610 feet, and the resort covers 2,904 acres of skiable terrain. If you stay at the resort go for the options in The Village at Northstar, where the lodges are so close to the resort that the lift is almost at your front door, making your commute ridiculously easy.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is perhaps the most famous ski resort in Lake Tahoe. Only 2 hours from Davis up Highway 80, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows reaches a peak of 9,050 feet, the tallest on the North Shore. Covering 4,000 acres of skiable mountain terrain, it is also the largest location on the North Shore, and perhaps the most popular destination for tourists.

Sugar Bowl Resort

At just 1 hour and 45 minutes in the car, Sugar Bowl Resort is the closest to Davis. Accessible by Highway 80, Sugar Bowl is one of the furthest from Tahoe and is definitely off the beaten track. They’ve got 1,650 acres of skiable terrain, reaching a peak of 8,383 feet. They also have some of the best Nordic skiing trails on the North Shore.

*Thumbnail photo courtesy of Bob Albrecht.