Deep blue Lake Tahoe straddles the border of California and Nevada, and the Sierra Nevada mountain range majestically watches over everything.
It’s an inviting scene, and it’s also one that changes depending on which side of the lake you’re on: In other words, there is a real separation in culture between North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe.
Choosing North or South
South Tahoe is better known for its vibrant social scene, and North Tahoe is acclaimed for its cozy, relaxing vibe.
Both shores offer incredible slopes sure to please outdoor adventurers and winter-sports enthusiasts interested in skiing and snowboarding around Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada. Some of the many other activities to indulge in include ice skating and snowmobiling.
Check out these five snow-resort options.
Sierra-at-Tahoe’s terrain parks, perfect for snowboarding
Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort – South Lake Tahoe
Sierra-at-Tahoe has six terrain parks – all conducive to performing tricks – to satisfy skiers and snowboarders, regardless of skill level. The resort also has a boardercross course (BoarderX, which is a snowboard race discipline) and a “superpipe” – a half-pipe with walls 5.5 meters high that lure freestyle skiers and high-flying snowboarders.
Fantastic views of Lake Tahoe from Heavenly Mountain Resort’s slopes
Heavenly Mountain Resort – South Lake Tahoe
With a summit elevation of 3,000 meters – the highest in Lake Tahoe – Heavenly Mountain offers the most terrain of any resort in the area, with more than 1,900 skiable hectares. The resort’s three terrain parks and its High Roller half-pipe ensure there’s space to accommodate a range of skill levels.
Northstar California Resort – North Lake Tahoe
Make as many runs as your legs can handle on Northstar's seven terrain parks that are perfect for skiing and snowboarding. There are 20 chairlifts to get you to the top. If you tire of the slopes, Northstar also offers snow tubing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Don’t worry about a lack of snow: This resort has the largest snow-making system in North Lake Tahoe in case the resort wants to supplement the natural snowpack.
From a mountaintop in winter, a view of Lake Tahoe
Sugar Bowl Ski Resort – North Lake Tahoe
Sugar Bowl Ski Resort was one of the first ski resorts in California, and it’s in a terrific location: It’s traditionally received more snow than almost any other resort in North America – on average, about 1,270 centimeters per year. Like Heavenly Mountain Resort, Sugar Bowl has five terrain parks to satisfy snow enthusiasts.
Squaw Valley Ski Resort – North Lake Tahoe
Located in Olympic Valley, California, Squaw Valley Ski Resort was the host site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. With six peaks, and a summit elevation of 2,758 meters, Squaw Valley is worthy of the most advanced skiers and snowboarders, but 25 percent of the mountain is dedicated to beginner runs. For inspiration, visit nearby Olympic Museum at High Camp, which is home to a collection of Olympic memorabilia, including authentic Team USA uniforms.
Mountain views of Olympic Valley in California
Know Before You Go
- Lake Tahoe is accessible. There are three international airports within driving distance: Reno/Tahoe International in Nevada, about 100 kilometers; San Francisco International Airport in California, about 330 kilometers to either shore; and Sacramento International Airport in California, about 200 kilometers to either shore.
- Amtrak’s California Zephyr train stops in nearby Truckee, California, which is about 32 kilometers north of Lake Tahoe. Visitors can take a Tahoe Area Regional Transit (TART) bus from the train station to North Lake Tahoe.
- Public transportation is a breeze in Lake Tahoe, with buses and ski shuttles consistently available.
- With ample sunshine, Lake Tahoe is a year-round destination, but the best time to enjoy winter sports is November, before crowds arrive. December, January and February are the busiest months in the region.
- Skiing in Lake Tahoe can be expensive, but several resorts offer packages that help keep costs down. Ask about these packages.