Tahoe is about two hours from Sacramento and people can find suitable activities here in any season.
Because we love skiing, we usually visit the Lake Tahoe area in the winter. Ski enthusiasts can find ski slopes of different sizes based on personal skill level. Here are some of the places we have visited before:
Boreal Mountain Resort
Boreal is the closest ski resort to drive from Sacramento and is just off Highway 80, Exit 176. The journey takes approximately three and a half hours from the Bay Area. People who ski from the San Francisco Bay Area can plan a one day trip here. Boreal is most famous for being a nightly ski resort, and skiers can ski from nine in the morning to nine in the evening. There are 41 ski runs (30% primary, 55% intermediate, 15% advanced), and the longest run is one mile long.
Boreal also offers snowboarding and tubing. People who just want to play snow can also pay for a snow playground.
Diamond Peak Ski Resort
Diamond Peak in the northeast corner of Lake Tahoe, about 45 minutes drive from Reno, is not too far away. The ski resort is a relatively narrow terrain. Because by the lake, when the weather is good, you can see the beautiful scenes of Lake Tahoe from the hill. There are about 30 ski trails (18% Junior, 46% Intermediate, 36% Senior), the longest run is 2.5 miles long.
Donner Ranch Ski Resort
The Donner Ranch is a small, family owned ski resort near Boreal Mountain Resort, ideal for young beginners. We took a one-and-a-half-hour group course that was affordable and included the cost of ski rentals and lift tickets on the same day. If you only need to use the electric transport (magic carpet) of the ski slopes to teach your child how to ski, you can also rent it here. There are 52 ski runs (25% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 25% Advanced).
Squaw Valley Resort
The Olympic Valley (also known as Squaw Valley) ski center was once the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and its facilities are perfect. It is located on CA-89 between Interstate Freeway 80 and Lake Tahoe, and has its own inn to form a truly holiday center. There are about 177 ski runs here (15% Primary, 35% Intermediate, 50% Advanced), and the longest run is 3.2 miles, which is a good place to challenge high-end skiing.
Most of the beginner runs can only be accessed by the Gold Coast Gondola or either the Squaw Valley Tram. We suggest using the Squaw Valley Tram to access the beginner runs because there are more beginner runs that lie next to the summit of the Squaw Valley Tram.
Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area
Tahoe Donner is another good place to ski. Lying on the west side of Truckee, it offers lakeside clubs, water activities, and golf courses in the summer, and ski runs and cross-country skiing during the winter. The ski area is small and suitable for the whole family to ski together. There are only about 15 ski runs (40% Primary, 60% Intermediate), and the longest run is 1 mile.
In addition, we once visited the Heavenly Mountain Resort on the southern end of Lake Tahoe after the snow season. It was also a ski resort where you can overlook South Lake Tahoe city. There are about 97 ski runs (20% Primary, 45% Intermediate, 35% Advanced), and the longest run is 5.5 miles.
If you want to get to the resort from South Lake Tahoe, you need to take a gondola first. If you don't want to ski, you can just take a ride on the gondola. There is a large viewing platform on the hillside, too. If you want, you can stop there to admire the fabulous view of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountain. There is no downhill platform for the gondola at the viewing platform stop. So you have to continue the ride up the mountain to the main part of the resort via the gondola and then ride down again from there.
The Heavenly Mountain Ski Center lies right next to the state border of California and Nevada in the south end of Lake Tahoe. It is surrounded by casino hotels, hotels, restaurants, and many tourists who do not ski.
If you want to visit northern California, don’t forget to squeeze time to visit Lake Tahoe!