The 7 Best Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe

View of snowy mountainside from cable car
Kjell Linder / Getty Images

The secret has been out about the amazing mountains around Lake Tahoe since at least 1960, when Squaw Valley hosted the Winter Olympics. It was the first broadcast televised Olympic Games and for many skiers, it was the first time they’d seen what the Tahoe region had to offer. 

Now, the region is incredibly popular, with no less than a dozen resorts vying for skiers’ time and money. Each resort has a different vibe, price point, and attracts a different type of visitor meaning that there is a resort for everyone.

01 of 07

Homewood Mountain Resort

View of Lake Tahoe from the top of Homewood Mountain
Geri Lavrov / Getty Images
5145 W Lake Blvd, Homewood, CA 96141, USA
Phone +1 530-525-2992

 Homewood is Tahoe’s best-kept secret and home to the best views you’ll find in Tahoe. From the top, it looks like you could ski right into the lake, and you almost could, since the beach is only 30 feet from the base lodge. The parking lot is small, but that helps keeps the crowds down. Don’t expect a fancy base area, but do expect deep powder on snow days and fantastic tree runs on the backside. 

Parking is sparse at Homewood, so you’ll probably be better served by parking in Tahoe City at the Transit Center and taking the free ski shuttle to the resort. 

  • Number of lifts: 7
  • Maximum lift ticket price: $154
  • Number of skiable acres: 1,260
02 of 07

Squaw Valley

Rescue worker traverses a snowy edge of a mountain. Digital composite.
Kjell Linder / Getty Images
1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, CA 96146, USA
Phone +1 530-452-4331

“Squallywood” is one of the most well-known, largest, and most iconic resorts in the skiing world. Squaw Valley is a paradise for every level of skier as the mountain is a series of bowls, chutes, and curving cat tracks—consider it a choose your own adventure kind of mountain. Squaw has a huge base village, 30 lifts, and some seriously advanced terrain; it’s not unusual to run into professional athletes on the trails. Fortunately, it’s well-loved by beginners, too, as the easy terrain still has amazing views of the lake. 

The 20-minute drive from Truckee to Squaw can take 2 hours or more on very busy powder days. But since Squaw has so many lifts, people get dispersed pretty well once they’re on the slopes 

  • Number of lifts: 30
  • Maximum lift ticket price: $179
  • Number of skiable acres: 4,000
03 of 07

Alpine Meadows

Skiier going down a mountain with tree-covered mountains in the background and lake tahoe in the distance

Courtesy of Alpine Meadows

2600 Alpine Meadows Rd, Alpine Meadows, CA 96146, USA
Phone +1 800-403-0206

Squaw’s sister resort is just a few minutes drive down Highway 89 and has similar terrain. Expect big, wide bowls, plenty of trees and chutes, and (of course) views of Lake Tahoe from the top. Unlike Squaw, there’s no large base village, which helps keeps the crowds down. In fact, locals often go to Alpine Meadows when Squaw Valley is too crowded. Because they’re owned by the same company, one lift ticket covers both mountains, so you can start your day at Squaw Valley and then take the shuttle to finish the afternoon at Alpine Meadows. 

The backside of Alpine Meadows (accessed via the Sherwood lift) turns into a social scene on spring weekends. The cash-only “Ice Bar” on the backside has beer, small snacks, and a DJ spinning tunes most afternoons. 

  • Number of lifts: 13
  • Maximum lift ticket price: $179
  • Number of skiable acres: 2,400
04 of 07

Northstar California Resort

Family of four skiing downhill towards the camera with some snow-covered trees in the background

 Courtesy of Northstar California Resort

5001 Northstar Dr, Truckee, CA 96161, USA
Phone +1 800-466-6784

Known by locals as Tahoe’s luxury mountain, Northstar is focused on families, with an excellent learn to ski program for children and adults. Trails are more defined, unlike Squaw’s open bowls, making it more appealing to skiers who prefer to map and track their runs. There’s a large village at the base, complete with an ice rink and complimentary s’mores during apres-ski. It has excellent grooming and great intermediate trails, as well a few terrain parks. 

You’ll need to take a ski shuttle from the Northstar parking lots, but you can rent a locker in the village for your shoes and ski bags. 

  • Number of lifts: 13
  • Maximum lift ticket price: $179
  • Number of skiable acres: 2,400
Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort

Snowboarder jumping down a slope with two blue flags on either side of them

 Courtesy of Sugar Bowl Resort

629 Sugar Bowl Rd, Norden, CA 95724, USA
Phone +1 530-426-9000

Sugar Bowl is located high up on the crest of the Sierra Nevada ridgeline, so it usually gets the most fresh snow from each storm (and often has the most snow of the whole season.) Despite the excellent snow, the vibe at Sugar Bowl is much more relaxed than other resorts. There are two main parking lots, but if you park at the lot off Donner Pass road, you can take a vintage gondola ride to reach the base lodge. Many of the lifts whisk skiers away to advanced and intermediate trails, so it’s easy for athletes of different levels to all ski or ride together. 

Sugar Bowl is one of the few privately owned resorts left in the country and doesn’t have a corporate feel. It was opened in the 1930s and still has a vintage feel—enjoy it!

  • Number of lifts: 13
  • Maximum lift ticket price: $125
  • Number of skiable acres: 1,650
06 of 07

Heavenly Mountain Resort

Lake Tahoe from Heavenly Mountain resort
Peter Stasiewicz / Getty Images
4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, USA
Phone +1 775-586-7000

Tahoe’s biggest mountain is also its most popular, partially because it’s in downtown South Lake Tahoe. The resort is split between California and Nevada and yes, you can ski from one state to another. One side of the mountain looks out on the lake while the other looks east to the Nevada desert. Heavenly has terrain to please all ability levels, but it can get crowded. Advanced skiers and riders can avoid the crowds by spending time in the double blacks on Mott and Killebrew Canyons. 

Most of the trails feed down into the same base area and congestion on the trails towards closing time is common. Try to stay high up for most of the day to avoid playing skier slalom.

  • Number of lifts: 28
  • Maximum lift ticket price: $180
  • Number of skiable acres: 4,800
07 of 07

Kirkwood Mountain Resort

Kirkwood Mountain Resort, California: A man skis in fresh, deep powder on a sunny day at a mountain resort in California.
Jose Azel / Getty Images
1501 Kirkwood Meadows Dr, Kirkwood, CA 95646, USA

At nearly 8,000 feet, Kirkwood has a higher base elevation than most other ski resorts, which gives it exceptionally good quality snow. It’s about an hour’s drive from South Lake Tahoe, so it tends to be less crowded—especially as there’s a mountain pass to get there that’s often restricted by chain control. Kirkwood is owned by Vail, but it doesn’t have a super corporate feel. Some of the lifts are older and the base lodge feels vintage, but that’s all part of the charm. Come mid-week to feel like you’ve got the mountain all to yourself. If you head to Kirkwood on a powder day, be sure you have chains for your tires and know how to put them on.

  • Number of lifts: 12
  • Maximum lift ticket price: $129
  • Number of skiable acres: 2,300
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The 7 Best Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe