Already home to North America’s largest cross country resort and 11 cross country skiing locations scattered across the north shore of Lake Tahoe, the region known as the capital of North American Cross country skiing continues to upgrade its offerings to its dedicated and new skiers equally.
Royal Gorge Cross Country Resort, now under the management of Sugar Bowl Resort for the second year, has upgraded its grooming, remodeled its Summit Station lodge and improved way finding signage. Now it is introducing fat tire snowbiking and bringing back California’s only resort-based snowkiting school for its second year.
But the foundation of Royal Gorge’s success — the 200 kilometers of groomed trails and 6,000 acres of stunning High Sierra terrain — still makes it the largest, and clearly one of the most impressive places in the world to strap on skinny skis.
While Royal Gorge headlines North Tahoe’s cross country ski offerings, 10 more cross country skiing locations dot the north shore of Lake Tahoe, offering quiet, secluded trails with expansive views of Lake Tahoe, heart-pounding climbs to mountain-tops or perfectly groomed trails through silent meadows.
And that is what separates North Tahoe from other winter destinations — the diversity of skiing options that it offers. Just like downhill skiers could choose to ski the legendary, Olympic steeps of Squaw Valley, cruise lakeview groomers at Homewood or spend a day at any of the 11 downhill ski resorts in North Tahoe, cross country skiers can find the trails that suit them. Or they can spend a week exploring the entire range of ski trails in a location with the highest concentration of cross country skiing terrain on the continent.
Three more resorts that have marked North Tahoe as one of the most diverse and extensive cross country skiing destinations in the world are Tahoe Donner Cross Country, Tahoe XC and the Auburn Ski Club at Boreal Mountain Resort on Donner Summit. Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center in Truckee offers 52 groomed trails and 100 kilometers of varied terrain that includes climbs to stunning views at Hawk’s Peak, to the secluded Euer Valley. Tahoe XC’s 23 groomed trails out of Tahoe City offer expansive views of Lake Tahoe and a renowned teaching program. The Auburn Ski Club is a renowned training ground for competitive skiers and an affordable skiing location for recreational skiers on 20 kilometers of trails.
Cross-country trails at Northstar, the Resort at Squaw Creek and Granlibakken allow lodging guests to ski right from their hotel room or condo. And state park trails like Sugar Pine Point offer free cross-country skiing (although a $10 parking fee is charged) on trails that were used for the 1960 Olympics.
The Incline Village Championship Golf Course and the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park at the Tahoe City Golf Course are two more free cross country skiing options. The Incline Village location offers spectacular views of Lake Tahoe, and the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park is ideal for the whole family including kids and dogs. Tahoe City visitors can both cross country ski and snowshoe at the winter sports park, and enjoy a small sledding hill on property for powdery days.
Along with its world-class Cross Country ski terrain, North Tahoe puts on the largest cross country ski race west of the Mississippi. The Great Ski Race is an annual fundraiser for Tahoe Cross Country Search and Rescue, an all-volunteer non-profit. Over 800 participants, including some of the world’s best Cross Country skiers and costume-wearing locals, ski the 18 miles from Tahoe City to Truckee, finishing in a harrowing downhill, followed by a legendary party. The 38th annual Great Ski Race is scheduled for Sunday, March 2, 2014.
The largest cross-country ski race west of the Mississippi is slated for this Sunday, March 3. Starting near the shores of Lake Tahoe, The Great Ski Race® covers 30km with 1,200 feet of uphill and 1,800 of downhill between Tahoe City and Truckee, Calif. The current record time is one hour and seven minutes, and the final contestant typically crosses the finish line in seven hours.
“The event draws skiers from around the country and around the world, including Olympic Nordic skiers and serious competitors, as well as skiers who are racing to beat their buddy or to beat last year’s time,” said Doug Read, race director for The Great Ski Race. “There are also skiers are out there to enjoy a ski in the woods with a bunch of friends, great soup stations and a heck of a party at the end.”
Registration for the 2013 Great Ski Race is now open online. Registration fees are $65 until March 2, $100 on race day and $25 for juniors 18 and under. The entry fee includes a pre-race package, a commemorative T-shirt, refreshments and a hot lunch at the finish, and a chance to win one of many great prizes. The party at the finish will consist of live music and lots of laughs at Truckee’s historic Cottonwood Restaurant and Bar.
The Great Ski Race is the main fundraising event for the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team, a non-profit, all-volunteer organization. Currently consisting of more than 100 volunteers, The Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team was conceived in 1976 as a response to the death of a boy lost off the back side of one of the Lake Tahoe ski resorts during a blizzard. There was, at the time, no organized backcountry ski team to help search for the boy. Desperate phone calls to some local Nordic skiers produced a search party that eventually located the youth, but only after it was too late. This group of skiers, along with the boy’s father (who today still remains one of the Nordic Team’s active members), learned there was an important void to be filled. Thus, the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team was born.
The Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team has matured considerably over the years, but the goals remain the same: conduct fast, safe rescues and educate the public about winter safety. Collectively, the team has an extremely high level of medical, mountain, and skiing skills, with members including EMTs, emergency room nurses, firefighters, professional ski patrollers, paramedics, and MDs. The Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team has located over 300 individuals to date, ultimately saving lives and bringing lost loved ones home whenever possible. Proceeds from The Great Ski Race and donations are the only source of funding for the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team. All funds raised are used to support the operations of the all-volunteer team throughout the year, as well as for winter survival and avalanche education programs sponsored and conducted by the team.
About Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue
Conceived in 1976, the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team has more than 100 members who fulfill many different functions in the organization such as rescuing lost alpine and cross-country skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers, locating downed aircraft, rescuing stranded hikers and climbers, educating the public about mountain safety, and many other support functions. More information can be found at www.tahoenordicsar.com or www.thegreatskirace.com.
This winter is the time to score free swag from North Lake Tahoe. With 3 giveaways running on their Facebook page, there’s sure to be something for everyone. Are you going to be a winner?
1. Escape to North Lake Tahoe Lift Ticket Giveaway - Win a pair of lift tickets in the Escape to North Lake Tahoe Lift Ticket Giveaway. A winner will be selected each weekday based on their creativity and unique photos showing what they are “escaping from.” Winners score a pair of lift tickets that can redeemed at 6 North Lake Tahoe ski resorts. The contest runs now through Thursday, January 31. Fans and followers can also enter by tweeting/instagramming a photo with the hashtag #escapecontest and an @TahoeNorth mention in your messaging. For contest details, click here.
3.The Rahlves’ Banzai Tour Sweepstakes-Enter to win one of 4 Rahlves’ Banzai Tour prize packages! Kirkwood Contour Prize Package: February 2-3, Alpine Meadows CEP Prize Package: February 9-10, Squaw Valley Bank of the West Prize Package: March2-3, and Sugar Bowl Super Final Prize Package March 2-3. Click here to enter.
The goal is simple – Get visitors out of their cars by providing a seamless, hassle-free transportation alternative during the winter months.
According to Executive Director Jan Colyer of the Truckee/North Tahoe Transportation Management Association, the program is already off to a great start. Ridership during the first five days of the Christmas holidays was 395.
The shuttle’s flexible schedule has also led to more winter enthusiasts partaking in après ski activities and libations since the shuttle service provides drivers.
The shuttle, while greatly enhancing the North Lake Tahoe visitor experience, is also a real winner for the environment.
Going carless helps reduce traffic congestion and thereby vehicle emissions which can deteriorate the lake’s clarity. Lake Tahoe is a fragile ecosystem and we all need to do our part to keep the region pristine.
In addition to the Free Ski Shuttle, a number of ski resorts offer their own free ski shuttles, such as Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, Homewood Mountain Resort, Northstar California and Diamond Peak.
The Truckee/North Tahoe Transportation Management Association also runs the Night Rider, a free service that runs until 2 a.m.; the North Lake Tahoe Water Shuttle during the summer months; and the year-round North Lake Tahoe Express Airport Shuttle that picks ups and delivers passengers to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. For a complete list of public transportation options, including the Free Ski Shuttle, visit online.
Reservations are not required, but participants should arrive early. Lesson packages can be purchased at each individual resort the day of lessons. Students should contact resorts directly for resort-specific information.
Some restrictions apply. Resorts not open December 8-9 may offer a Learn to Ski Weekend later in the season.
Although you might not feel it, the weather is starting to change in North Lake Tahoe. Days are still warm, with temperatures averaging in the 60s, but nights are dropping to approximately 35 degrees. It’s the time of year that the region’s upper elevations start seeing a dusting of snow.
We’ve been reviewing all the long-range forecasts, and if Mother Nature keeps up her end, we should have above-average snowfall this winter.
That’s music to the ears of North Lake Tahoe ski resorts, many of which have been pumping millions of dollars into their ski and non-ski products to enhance the winter enthusiast’s experience.
This season marks year two of Squaw Valley’s $50 million renaissance. The improvements, unveiled for winter 2012-2013, will greatly enhance the first-time and beginner experience, the terrain park and improve the overall flow of the upper mountain.
The resort will install Big Blue Express, a new, high-speed six-pack chairlift, to replace the High Camp chairlift. The base terminal of Big Blue Express will start where the base of the High Camp lift was formerly located and will extend to the top of the ridge, providing easy access to the Shirley Lake, Solitude and Granite Chief chairlifts. The Links double chairlift will be removed and replaced with a triple chairlift call Mountain Meadow, which will be realigned to bring skiers and riders up to the ridgeline near the top of the terminals of the Solitude and Silverado lifts. Additional changes include Squaw’s three million snowmaking improvements and grooming initiatives.
Building on the $30 million recently invested at Northstar California, the resort celebrates this winter and its 40th anniversary with more glade skiing on The Backside, first-ever snow cat and backcountry tours on Sawtooth Ridge, a new Burton Riglet Park that introduces snowboarding to 3-6 year olds and EpicMix Racing that has participants comparing their race times against accomplished Olympic medalist Lindsey Vonn. Also new this season is Tavern 6330’ in the Village at Northstar with seating for up to 200. The new restaurant features American grill dishes inspired by California farm fresh ingredients served up in a cozy, tavern-esque atmosphere suitable for the whole family.
Making headlines around the country is Northstar’s new CMO, canine marketing officer, “Marsh Mellow.” The lovable three-month-old pup was abandoned at the resort last August. After a long search in which no owner was found, the resort’s marketing team adopted him. Over the last few months, Marsh Mellow has developed a following of guests who keep up to speed with his activities via the resort’s social media channels and who regularly visit the Village at Northstar to see him.
On Donner Summit, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort signed an agreement October 1 to operate Royal Gorge Cross Country Resort, America’s largest cross-country operation, which is being purchased by the Truckee Donner Land Trust, the Trust of Public Land and the Northern Sierra Partnership. The resorts are already connected by an “interconnect” trail that allows skiers to ski back and forth between the two, with plans in the works to further enhance the connection with two additional beginner-friendly routes. Sugar Bowl, who plans to invest $500,000 in Royal Gorge this season, is now offering a season pass that allows holders to downhill at Sugar Bowl and cross-country ski at Royal Gorge. Sugar Bowl pass holders can add on an unrestricted Royal Gorge pass for $149 (adult price), and can purchase an unrestricted, standalone Royal Gorge pass for $299.
Mt. Rose – Ski Tahoe, just outside of Incline Village on Highway 431, has continued to work on a multi-year forest management project in cooperation with the Nevada Division of Forestry. The project stretches from the Galena trail to the Mt. Rose Highway and involves concentrated efforts for selected thinning and the removal of dead, damaged and diseased trees with the goal of a healthier forest. Other resort projects include the realignment of the Little Mule conveyor lift and improvements to the Rosebuds teaching terrain. Decorative rock walls were added around the Main Lodge with the added perk of aiding in erosion control.
Woodward Tahoe, a world-class action sports training center and youth camp which originally opened in June, will be open seven days/week for public access and daily drop-in sessions through the winter until April 14, 2013. The 33,000-square foot indoor facility at the base of Boreal Mountain Resort on Donner Summit, offers multi-level Olympic trampolines, a Super Tramp, a concrete skate park for skateboarding and BMX biking, a pump track and skatelite ramps to foam pits for aerial ski, snowboard, BMX and skateboard training. A season pass, called the “Bunker Pass,” is available for $279 and includes eight months of access, seven days/week for two-hour sessions.
A tiny leprechaun swooped down from his rainbow and brought us a gift: SNOW.
The National Weather Service is predicting that some areas of North Lake Tahoe could receive up to 7 feet or more of snow by Sunday. So head to your favorite NLT resort lodge, enjoy an Irish Coffee and hit the slopes… or maybe that’s the other way around.
Check out all of NLT’s St. Patty’s Events taking place this Saturday:
St. Patty’s Twilight Ski, Homewood Mountain Resort Guests are invited to hit the slopes from 4-7 p.m. (after the resort typically closes) via the Quail triple chair in addition to daytime skiing and riding. The Resort is also offering commemorative St. Patrick’s Day T-shirts, green beer, corned beef and cabbage and a hidden pot o’ gold this St. Patty’s Day.
Ski Green, Mt. Rose – Ski Tahoe The resort is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a party including food and beverage specials, as well as the resort’s Pot O’ Gold Poker Run from 10-11:30 a.m.
St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt and Apres Party – Northstar California 1:30 – 3 pm – Join Northstar California and EpicMix for the first ever St. Patrick’s Day EpicMix Scavenger Hunt. Join fellow EpicMixers in an on-mountain scavenger hunt, compete in challenges, earn EpicMix pins, and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Solve riddles to unlock special EpicMix virtual pins in various locations throughout Northstar.
3:30 – 4:30 pm – After the big “hunt” head to the Lodge at Big Springs at mid-mountain for an Epic après party where each scavenger hunt participant will receive a free slice of pizza and 14 oz. beer or soda. We will also hold a raffle and celebrate green the color of St. Patrick’s Day and EpicMix in true style. Prizes will be given to most visible green outfit and best Irish-themed outfit.
BARmuda Triangle St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, Lakeside Tahoe City 4:30 pm – 2 am – Lakeside joins Jake’s on the Lake & Hacienda del Lago for a blow-out event. The fun starts at Jake’s with traditional Irish food all day (also Lunch/Café/Dinner), Happy Hour discounts 4:30-6:30 pm and live music with Mark Wilson at 6 pm. The party continues at Hacienda del Lago (upstairs) with live funk “Terraplane” 9:30 pm-2 am, and L.A. DJ Dre Tuna at Lakeside (next door) 10 pm-2 am. Bar hop to enjoy Bush-Mills Girls, music and drink specials all night at all three venues!
Jake’s On The Lake 530-583-018, Hacienda 530-581-3700, Lakeside 530-583-2000
St. Patricks Day Celebration – Alpine Meadows, Tahoe City 9 am – 5 pm – Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Alpine! Ski the green slopes, dress in green, and search for the hidden pot of gold! They will be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day party to remember – complete with Irish food, drink specials and live music by the Nibblers.
St Patrick’s Snowshoe Search for the Pot O’ Gold 10 am – Tahoe Mountain Sports and the TRTA are teaming up for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. There is hidden treasure buried in the snow and it’s up to you to locate each pot o’gold. This is a fun family event where everyone is a winner. Strap on your snowshoes this St. Patrick’s Day and stretch your sleuth skills. Call 775-298-0231 for more information. The event is free but registration is required.
9pm – Tickets available now. After party in the Crown Room. The Last Bluegrass co-bill was so great, the club decided to do it again with the same format. Each band will do a set and then an encore jam together. Do not miss this St. Paddy’s day throw-down.
Pot O’ Gold Hunt, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort The annual Pot O’ Gold hunt is on. Find clues scattered around the mountain which will lead you to the famous gold pot containing a Summit Sunday pass for 2012/2013!
So you’ve taken time off work and booked a trip to Tahoe this winter. Check item #1 off your list. Now you’ve got an entirely different task ahead: figure out how much you can pack into your trip to make it the best ever. We could come up with a thousand things to do, but that’s what GoTahoeNorth.com is all about.
Here are some tips from fans of North Lake Tahoe on the can’t-miss, must-do, make-plans-to-enjoy things you should add to your list.
Dog Sledding(from Alena S.). Truly an experience to remember (trust us, we cherish our memory). Wilderness Adventures has hour-long tours through the Squaw Valley Meadow, between the ski resort and Resort at Squaw Creek. The guide leads a team of 8-10 huskies with a four-person sled.
Hang loose and enjoy (from Richard A.). North Lake Tahoe is definitely built for relaxation. In the winter you can still hang out on beaches and enjoy the serenity of the lake. Or, enjoy a hot beverage and the company of friends at any of the area’s watering holes, coffee houses, lodges or villages. There’s never a shortage of warm fires and great views at Tahoe.
Paddleboard Lake Tahoe on a Bluebird Day (Andy C.). This may seem a little crazy, but if you throw on a wetsuit and try really hard not to fall in, it could turn out to be your best day on the lake, ever. Consider this, in the winter there are far fewer boats on the water, making it like glass on a calm, sunny day. There’s nothing but you on a board paddling across a blue expanse and surrounded by snow-covered mountains. Paints a picture, doesn’t it? Check out this post for details on where to rent a SUP for the day.
Rent a cabin(from Jodi S.). Definitely a cozy way to experience Tahoe and maintain that homey feel. Cabins in the area range in price and size and have a variety of amenities from ski-in/ski-out to pet friendly, lakefront views, hot tubs and more.
Visit The Center for Environmental Sciences, Sierra Nevada College (from Diane M.). Open Tuesday – Friday from 1 – 5 p.m., you can tour the center and learn about Lake Tahoe’s ecology, see research in action, fly through a 3D model of Lake Tahoe and dive under the water, and also learn about the building’s sustainable design.
We mentioned a lot of the ski/board resort improvements in our last update, but we’ve picked up a few more in the past week that we’d like to share.
Granlibakken, which has an intimate, beginner ski hill, and lift access to cross country skiing is perfect for those just learning, along with Nordic skiers. New this year is the Lighthouse Spa with a variety of treatments, such as massage therapy, skincare, manicures and pedicures, body waxing and healing treatments. (Photo, right: The sled hill at Granlibakken)
Homewood Mountain Resort, on the West Shore, is the second resort in North America to install the Magnestick chair lift safety technology. (It was introduced at Alpine Meadows last winter.) The Magnestick chair lift safety system keeps kids in place on the lift through an electromagnetic seatback and corresponding magnetic vest worn by child riding a chair lift. When a child reaches the chair lift deboarding platform, the vest is deactivated allowing for a seamless release from the seatback. Magnestick has been installed on the resort’s Quail chairlift, which is adjacent to Homewood’s children center.
On Donner Summit, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort has skiers and riders saving on lift tickets every day of the season with their CORE Daily Pass. The pass, a points-based loyalty and rewards program, offers $15 off all-day rack rate lift ticket for just a $19 annual membership. CORE members also earn points every time they ski and ride, and for every qualifying dollar spent, it can be redeemed for free items across the resort. (Photo, left: Sugar Bowl during an early storm, October 6, 2011)
Ski and board resorts in North Lake Tahoe continue to raise the bar with millions of dollars in capital improvements that add new lifts, expand terrain and enhance mountain and base operations services for visitors. Ski Lake Tahoe helped us out with a round-up of what’s happening at are resorts. Here’s the lowdown:
Squaw Valley Squaw Valley has joined forces with Alpine Meadows to offer more than 6,000 acres of legendary skiing and riding accessed via a single lift ticket, the Tahoe Super Pass, and interconnecting shuttle. This season will mark the first phase of $50 million in capital improvements announced as part of a modern-day renaissance taking place at Squaw Valley that includes a new day lodge, new restaurants and upgraded skier services around the mountain. The resort’s base area will undergo a major transformation this offseason to include: a new restaurant and bar in the heart of the village; a remodel of the infamous Olympic House sundeck; transformation of the base level of Squaw Valley’s Olympic House into a new day lodge and family recreation center; and a renovation to the interior of the 17,000 square foot Squaw Kids facility. On the mountain, the upper terminal of North America’s only Funitel (28 person gondola) will be renovated to include the new Funi’s Mountaintop Café and Market along with the only ski-in/ski-out coffee shop on the continent. Three new magic carpet lifts, new rental gear, progression-based terrain features and a new lesson structure will be in place at the Snowsport School as part of an evolution taking shape to vastly improve the beginner learning experience. (Photo credit Nathan Kendall.)
Northstar California Recently acquired by Vail Resorts, Northstar has $30 million in capital improvements underway for the upcoming 2011-12 winter season, including a new 1,440 foot detachable quad chairlift and a new 700-seat on-mountain restaurant atop the resort’s Tahoe Zephyr Express Lift, featuring expansive views of the Pacific Crest. The Village at Northstar will welcome top outdoor brands Patagonia and Burton to its impressive shopping outlets, and has expanded The North Face and True North retail stores. Two-time Olympic gold medalist, professional snowboarder and skateboarder Shaun White will call Northstar his home mountain and primary training resort, and will work with Northstar and Snow Park Technologies to build a custom 22 foot halfpipe this season that will be open to the general public when White is not training. The resort has also expanded its boundaries offering 170 additional acres of new sidecountry terrain, new snowcat tours on Sawtooth Ridge and guided backcountry tours outside the resort’s boundary into a highly anticipated area of future expansion. Finally, Northstar will be the lastest Vail Resorts’ owned mountain to bring EpicMix to the slopes allowing guests to effortlessly share their ski and snowboard experience via social media and take advantage of real-time features such as finding their friends on the mountain. EpicMix photographers will also be on the slopes to take professional photos that will be uploaded directly to guests’ EpicMix accounts and can be shared for free on Facebook and Twitter. (Photo, progress on Northstar’s new lodge as of August 2011. Work has moved along at a rapid pace.)
Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe
Boasting Lake Tahoe’s highest base elevation, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe enhanced its supplemental snowmaking capabilities this offseason by installing a top-to-bottom system on its Silver Dollar run ensuring early season access on the Slide Bowl portion of the resort. This side of the mountain has been the focus of significant improvements over the last few seasons such as the modern amenities now housed in the Winters Creek Lodge powered by three environmentally-friendly extreme energy windspires. Located less than thirty minutes from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, families hoping to make turns right off the tarmac can take advantage of the reduced pricing this season on Family Packs which include two adult lift tickets and two child lift tickets (17 and under) for only $138. (Photo, left, taken after October 5, 2011 snowfall.)
Alpine Meadows Alpine Meadows has joined forces with Squaw Valley to offer more than 6,000 acres of legendary skiing and riding accessed via a single lift ticket, the Tahoe Super Pass, and interconnecting shuttle. Following last season’s introduction of a cutting-edge child chairlift safety system and GPS tracking units for kids enrolled in ski school, the resort continues to invest in innovative, industry-leading technologies designed to enhance the guest experience. This season Alpine Meadows plans to debut an entirely new fleet of demo and rental equipment that take advantage of the revolutionary new rocker technologies currently advancing the sport. What differentiates this fleet from others is the “standard” equipment will be on par with most resorts’ high end demos. Additionally, the resort has created a totally unique instructional program called Adventure 55 geared exclusively towards baby boomers. The eight week program will take place on Tuesdays with a goal of pairing like-minded individuals looking to meet other active-minded members of their age group who share a passion for exploring the varied terrain found at Alpine Meadows. (Photo credit Jonathan Selkowitz.)