Fun This Winter in North Lake Tahoe

Watching the Winter Olympics is always fun, and we’re always sad to see the end, but if you want to experience some winter fun of your own, then it’s time to head to Lake Tahoe for skiing, boarding, and skating. While we’re not pretending to be Olympic Athlete material, we do offer excellent Toyota SUVs that can get you to and from the snow—just as local, (actual) Olympian Jonny Moseley shared with us in the Northern California Toyota Winter Olympics commercials.

With a new cold front and precipitation in the forecast, it looks like winter in the Sierra’s is still going strong. Marin County has an ideal location to take advantage of all that the Lake Tahoe Area has to offer, no matter the season. But it’s still February, so we’re still thinking about skiing and boarding, snowflakes and ice skating. Here are some ideas for enjoying the snow in North Lake Tahoe. (South Lake recs coming in next blog post.) 

North Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts

If you’re looking for a great experience that has a connection to the Olympics (and Toyota), check out Squaw Valley. Squaw offers excellent steeps as well as easy going greens and blues for newbies, as well as a skating rink up high. Squaw has an excellent ski team for kids of all ages and they train hard and fast all winter long. If you have a child with Olympic aspirations, this is a great team to check out.

Squaw’s sister resort, Alpine Meadows, harkens back to the good ol’ days when we all dumped our packs and lunches in the big lodge before hitting the slopes. When we came back for lunch with red cheeks and cold fingers, our bags were still there and our Thermoses of soup were still warm. Alpine offers excellent terrain for advanced skiers and boarders with a laid-back attitude. 

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort is the closest ski resort to the Bay Area (168 miles from Novato Toyota) and many families go up for the day rather than spending the night in Truckee or Soda Springs. This resort has a great diversity of terrain with 45% designated as Intermediate and 38% Advanced. Everyone in your family or group will find the right runs at Sugar Bowl.

If downhill skiing and boarding isn’t your thing, check out the great cross-country ski trails at Royal Gorge. Royal Gorge is near Sugar Bowl in Soda Springs, California, and is known as the largest cross-country ski area in North America. You can ski in the classic Nordic style, skate ski, snowshoe, and even take your dog on 11+ km of groomed trails. Check all trail conditions and which trails are open for you and your dog before you head out.

A popular destination for families on the north end of the Lake is Northstar California resort, about 185 miles from Novato Toyota. Northstar offers excellent lessons, easy groomers for all ages to enjoy, and an excellent system of buses that take you to and from your Northstar cabin or condo to the center of the action. Kids will love the ice skating rink and the s’mores that are handed out every afternoon. Adults may enjoy the afternoon champagne toast at the top of the mountain. My park rats love the excellent terrain park with rails, boxes, and jumps. Just be sure you Know the Code (see below) and always wear your helmet.

Other North Tahoe Options

Diamond Peak is in Incline Village on the Nevada side of the lake and it offers easy going terrain, beautiful views, and decent prices for season passes and lift tickets. For example, Diamond Peak offers free daily lift tickets to kids 6 years old and under, and to those 80+-year-olds who still hit the slopes. They also have a Parent Swap ticket — great idea for those parents who have little ones who aren’t ready to ride the lifts, or for when the kids are sick.  Season Pass holders also have reciprocity at quite a few ski resorts in the Western US, including Homewood ( which is located on the Western side of Lake Tahoe. Check out their website for details.

Mt. Rose is the closest ski resort to Reno, Nevada. If you have a reason to be in Reno for a conference, a college visit, or have a good deal on a casino hotel room, then it makes sense to visit Mt. Rose. (You can also fly there in a little over an hour, and if you fly on Southwest Airlines, skis fly free.) The base of the mountain is 8620 feet (the summit is 9700 feet!) and the chutes are crazy with 40% of the terrain designated Advanced. Bring your A game and some oxygen and plan to be tired and very happy.

Tahoe Donner is in Truckee and offers some of the best short runs for beginners and families. With only two chairlifts and 17 runs, Tahoe Donner is a great place to not get lost. If you’re looking for a place to start, TD is a good one. The instructors are good and kids as young a 3 years old can take lessons. When the weather is nice and sunny, you can grab lunch on their big outdoor deck and watch your kids and friends come down the mountain.

You can also ski uphill at Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center in Truckee. Tahoe Donner also offers some trails for you to enjoy with your dogs, and they have fat bikes and snowshoe trails so you can change it up. Tahoe Donner X-Country has over 100 km of trails to keep you in shape and away from snowboarders and park rats.

Know the Code

Seven Points to Your Responsibility Code

  1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

Let’s Go!

Now is the time to make a plan, buy some tickets online, pack up the gear, make sure you have 4WD with snow tires or chains, and head up to Lake Tahoe for some fresh snow this week. If you need a new 4WD, stop by and check out our excellent selection at Novato Toyota. Have fun and be safe!