South Lake Tahoe Winter Fun

It’s wet in the Bay Area, and it’s snowy in the Sierras. They call this type of warm, wet system a Pineapple Express, and earlier this week it was a warm system moving through the mountains and there was more rain than snow at lake level. But last night the temps dropped and now it’s snowing. Really snowing. So while it may be the first week of Spring, you can still ski and ride fresh powder at South Lake Tahoe resorts. So buckle up, wear your helmet, and go have an adventure!

Experts Only signs and Lake Tahoe in background.

Experts Only run at Heavenly Ski Resort, South Lake Tahoe (Photo by Erika Fish)

The best part about skiing and riding in South Lake Tahoe are the views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Truly breathtaking. And sometimes the wind can also take your breath away, so be careful and always dress in layers.  While most of the ski resorts are located north of the lake, those ski resorts to the south are worth the drive and exploration. Housing isn’t as pricey as the north end, and if you have the energy, South Lake Tahoe does have more nightlife than her northern sisters. 

Heavenly Ski Resort is popular with the teens and young adults who love the apres ski parties. Heavenly has varied terrain including death-defying drops, and long, sparkling groomers. With a well laid out system of chairs and gondolas, you can spend the day skiing in both Nevada and California. The views from the top are breathtaking so be sure to charge your camera/phone.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort is known for serious steeps, fewer crowds, and some of the best prices for lift tickets (for a Vail Resort, which also includes Northstar and Heavenly in California and a plethora of resorts in Colorado and Utah). Kirkwood has one of the funniest and most accurate snow condition updates on Twitter and Facebook. You may find people donning onesies and using skinny skis at Kirkwood, and they’re not doing it to be funny — they just haven’t updated their gear since the 1980s. You’ll also find they may be the best skiers on the mountain. Kirkwood is worth the drive.

Young skier at Tahoe-area resort

Start them early and they’ll know the mountain by their 5th birthday. (Photo by Erika Fish)

Sierra-at-Tahoe has a loyal following and a fun, easy-going vibe. They even gave themselves a “Certified Unserious” badge to signify that they take fun seriously and focus on the grooming, safety, and fun of snow sports instead of high prices for a luxury experience. Check out their website and their funny glossary for terms like “snowmmeliers,” “groomicorns,” and “gnomies.” Sierra-at-Tahoe also has the only halfpipe in South Lake Tahoe. 

Watch those little ones — they love to eat snow! Pack your pockets with snacks and stop at the lodge for water more often than you’d like. You can also invest in hydration packs to wear as you ski. Our kids had kid-size Camelbaks when they were little and it was a big help. We decided a few extra bathroom breaks were better than dehydration.

Buy Tickets Online

For the best prices on lift tickets, buy them online at least seven days in advance. If you plan to be on the snow for more than five days, you may find that buying a special multi-day ticket is the way to go. Sometimes, it even pays to buy a Season Pass if you’re planning a 7-10 day ski vacation. Check out the resorts in the area you’re visiting — some resorts have pass reciprocity with other local resorts and then you can visit more than one mountain without paying more (just watch those blackout dates!). Or get season passes to resorts that have properties in California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, British Columbia, or Montana. Winter isn’t over yet — get out there and eat it up!