Discover California’s most-loved snowy spots with our review of the best ski resorts in Lake Tahoe.
Home to California’s best skiing, Lake Tahoe is a multifaceted destination where you can wake up by the lake, then head up into the mountains to shred some fresh powder. With so many reputable ski resorts in the area, every skill level is catered for. From the glitzy – and enormous – Heavenly resort, to the laid-back and modest Homewood, you’re likely to find your new favorite ski destination on this list.
Homewood is a no-frills ski resort that’s all about simple pleasures – good snow and amazing runs. It offers an insight into what skiing was like back in the day. Attracting more locals than the other resorts, you can expect a chilled-out and convivial atmosphere. Its position also affords incredible views of the lake below. The terrain is largely suited towards intermediates, but there are options for all levels of experience here.
Here, you can ski right out the backdoor. Granlibakken’s intimate ski hill is just right for beginner to intermediate skiers and snowboarders; there’s a rental shop and ski school right on site. For those seeking more challenge, Homewood is just an 11-minute drive away. There are also plenty of trails to explore around the 74-acre resort, including miles of cross-country and snowshoeing tracks. Lodging options here include rooms, studios, and suites — all the way up to eight-bedroom condos. There’s also an outdoor pool heated year round.
Situated directly on the shores of Lake Tahoe, West Shore Cafe and Inn has spectacular views of the water from the majority of its six rooms and suites. Being such a small place, you can expect personable service from the friendly staff. Inside, you can expect homely furnishings including wooden floors and comfortable beds, plus some rooms include cozy gas fireplaces. The real highlight here though is the gondola up to Homewood Mountain Resort is a three-minute walk away.
Sitting on the border of California and Nevada, Heavenly Resort is an exercise in contrasts. While up the mountain you wouldn’t know the difference – both states have incredible snow and great runs – it’s down in the town that the distinction between the two is strong. While the Californian side has a laid-back, alpine-town feel to it, the Nevada side is a neon light-clad adult’s playground that caters to those looking for after-hours fun on their vacation.
This oft-awarded property is located merely steps from the lakefront, and a free shuttle service away from Heavenly Village and the Heavenly Gondola (or walk in 15 minutes if you like). The 82 rooms and suites here are tricked out and luxurious. Think fireplaces and heated bathroom floors. Some include balconies with forest views; others offer stunning vistas of the lake.
This resort is located in Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe; take the gondola right up the mountains from the resort to get your ski on. The property offers a well-appointed fitness center, outdoor pool, whirlpool, and sauna. Bring the kids – the family-friendly property offers one-, two- and three-bedroom villas that come with full kitchens.
This is South Lake Tahoe’s only all-suite lodging option; you’ll get a two-room suite with daily breakfast each morning. The property sits right at the base of Heavenly Mountain Resort, so you’ll spend more time skiing and less time schlepping. There’s also a ski and board valet included.After you shred the slopes, soak those athlete muscles of yours in the heated indoor pool.
Located just a four-minute walk from the Heavenly gondola, Basecamp South Lake Tahoe is ideally located for a ski vacation. Here, the perks of a hotel are combined with the price bracket of an inn or motel. For an unusual stay, book a Great Indoors room – decked out with a huge tent, faux fire pit and glow-in-the-dark stars to emulate all the best things about camping, without subjecting you to the snowy elements. Elsewhere, the hotel has a beer garden and spa deck with a hot tub – plus a free daily s’mores sesh when you can roast marshmallows under the stars.
Having played host to the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley has been hosting snow-loving visitors for decades, and knows how to do it well. It’s the second-largest ski resort in the region, so expect an array of runs and powdery snow. There are 29 lifts, 6 peaks and more than 3,500 acres (1,416ha) of skiing and snowboarding terrain. In an area where it often snows heavily overnight with clouds clearing by morning, you’re graced with a higher-than-average number of bluebird days, complete with fresh snow.
One of the few accommodation options found directly at the foot of Squaw Valley Mountain, Plump Jack Inn gives you the ultimate alpine experience. Step out of your front door and straight onto a ski lift to whizz you up the mountain – ensuring you get prime access to the fresh snow. Accommodations are homely and comfortable with big plush beds to keep you warm, and Keurig coffee machines for your morning caffeine fix. Family rooms are also on offer, which makes staying with kids a breeze.
Referred to as the Disneyland of ski resorts, Northstar has all the amenities you’d expect from a lively ski destination – luxury hotels, numerous restaurants and a range of buzzy après-ski options. There’s a far more relaxed pace of skiing here and the resort is great for families – there is nothing ridiculously steep and the runs are designed for easy but picturesque rides. If you’re looking for a bit of jumping space, there’s a large amount of freestyle terrain on the 3,170-acre (1,283-ha) ski field.
This ski-in ski-out destination is located mid-mountain, and it’s an ideal luxury lodging option for snow bunnies at Northstar California. Accommodations here feature gas fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views of the landscape. Suites and residences offer as many as four bedrooms with kitchens and dining areas. The family-friendly property also has an upscale spa and a comprehensive children’s program.
This lakefront property is well located for skiers – Northstar is just 14 miles away, while the smaller Diamond Peak is a six-minute drive. Choose between a room, suite, or charming cottage, including options with full kitchens or private beach views. The spa is a real draw here, with jetted whirlpools and an outdoor pool open year-round. Slip into the pool indoors and swim outside, a standout treat on snowy days.
Designed to reflect the beauty of its spectacular natural setting, Cedar House Sport Hotel draws you in with its off-the-grid vibe. You can ease your weary muscles with a dip in the heated spa pool, or simply cozy up with a glass of red wine next to the fireplace in the chalet-style lounge. The hotel also has a strong sustainability ethos – not only built from recycled and unrefined materials, the hotel also no longer uses disposable cups and actively works to reduce its waste and energy consumption. Northstart Mountain Resort is just a 12-minute drive away.