The other great resorts of Tahoe

Although Squaw Valley has always been my fave Tahoe riding, you really won't be sorry if you visit any of these three resorts either. All of them have lots of good places to explore, great wilderness to scope out, and friendly folks hangin' with ya.

Alpine Meadows

Were it not for a few cliff bands and a closed rope, you could ride from the top of KT-22 at Squaw down to the Alpine Meadows road; the two resorts are in successive side canyons of the Truckee river. Alpine isn't nearly as large as Squaw, but it has a couple advantages: one, it's base is about 500' higher, so days it's raining in the parking lot at Squaw you may be able to escape up the hill at Alpine. More importantly, though, Alpine doesn't throw a lift everywhere, and so there's a whole lot of terrain on the mountain at Alpine that requires either long traverses or actual hiking to get to.

Mind you, as a snowboarder I'm not thrilled about long traverses; but at Squaw, you will see a brand-new slope get tracked out in 20 minutes (ask Oren about Granite Chief and Jimmy!). At Alpine, if you're willing to hike a bit, it's not unusual to find freshies one to two days after a storm.

The issues of slope planning also keep the backside of Alpine uncrowded on all but the busiest days. Here's Oren pluming it up on Sherwood at Alpine; I've had whole afternoons there with only a few dozen other folks riding.

Carve it dude!


Kirkwood has a reputation of being less slick, less crowded, and having better snow than the other Tahoe resorts. They're pretty much right on all counts; Kirkwood is full of fun terrain, especially for boarders, and has less attitude and less money than its famous North Lake Tahoe cousins. If you're coming up for a one-day trip from the San Francisco Bay Area, by all means head to Kirkwood; it's closer in addition to being a great resort. Hang out on Wagon Wheel, check out the natural gully, and explore!

Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl is the granddaddy of Tahoe resorts; founded in the thirties, it counts the Disney family among its initial investors. There's plenty of fun to be had, although it doesn't have the variety of terrain that Squaw or Alpine do. It's also closer to the Bay Area, since it's actually on the western side of Donner Pass (by about a half a mile; if you continue past the resort on Donner Pass Road, you'll see the AFI hut, a great resource for backcountry information and the sign that you're at the top of the original Donner Pass).

When you're coming down the slope called the Waterfall at Sugar, do watch out; you don't want to actually come down the neck of the waterfall unless it's the deepest of power seasons or you wear a Mohawk on camera.

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