Tahoe skiing: Downhill resorts offer up new features for the 2016-17 season
November 27, 2016
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This article is adapted from the winter 2016-17 edition of Tahoe Magazine, a joint publication of the Sierra Sun, North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, Tahoe Daily Tribune and Lake Tahoe Action. The magazine, which features loads of features and advertisements about all that the Tahoe winter has to offer, is on newsstands now across Lake Tahoe, Truckee and Reno. Click here to read the digital edition, or be sure to pick up a copy today!
Skiers and snowboarders have no shortage of award-winning resorts to choose from when they hit the slopes at Truckee and Lake Tahoe.
In fact, there are 14 different downhill resorts (15 if you consider Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows separately), each offering a unique experience for guests, along with a handful of cross-country resorts.
With so many destinations, and with each resort offering new features every season, it can be difficult deciding which one to visit. We've taken the research and the guesswork out of it and rounded up highlights of what's new at a few of our resorts this year.
Check out the details below.
Tahoe Donner is a local favorite for cross-country skiing. In fact, the area was recently voted best Nordic and Cross-Country Ski Center by readers of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza in the newspapers' annual Best of North Lake Tahoe & Truckee contests. And it's about to get even better.
"This year, what we're really excited about is Nordic cross-country skiers will gain about 640 new acres of skiable terrain that we didn't have last year," said Derek Moore, a spokesperson for the resort. The new terrain was made possible due to the resort's recent acquisition of Crabtree Canyon.
It was a busy summer this year at Tahoe Donner as well. Moore said that resort employees have been busy making ground improvements to the ski area, focusing mainly on the downhill ski trails. The improvements allow the resort to open earlier in the season and operate in low ski conditions, should those be the case this year (hopefully not!).
The resort has also improved its recreation and tubing area this season by adding new, longer tubing lanes that the whole family is sure to enjoy.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Both USA Today and 10Best Readers' Choice rated Squaw Valley a top ski resort in 2016, and for good reason. The resort will host a pair of Audi FIS World Cup ski races for the first time since 1969 this season in March, which means they're serious about investing in improvements this year that will benefit resort guests.
Squaw's offering a lot this year, but perhaps the most unique is its new smartphone app, which was recognized by WIRED Magazine, TechCrunch and Outside Online as one of the best new ski apps. The app allows real-time data and allows users to share their location with other friends at the resort.
Terrain enhancements this season at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows include investments in more efficient snowmaking, grooming and avalanche mitigation, which will further improve conditions for serious training. And to make sure those runs are easier to access, Squaw will also be expanding ticket sale locations this season for a total of seven spots to purchases passes on the east side of the Village.
On the South Shore, Sierra-at-Tahoe will offer a new guest services space at the intersection of Highway 50 and Lake Tahoe Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe, so that guests can more easily purchase tickets and make reservations. They're also planning on launching a new website that will include many of the same features.
Sierra-at-Tahoe also has an expanded learning environment for new skiers and snowboarders to take advantage of this year. The area uses special terrain that's designed to help guests learn more quickly. The resort has also recently announced that it's going "Anti-Bottle" — meaning they'll installed stations for guests to refill reusable water bottles in an effort to cut back on waste.
Outside Magazine, SKI Magazine and Forbes have called Northstar the "Best Resort for Families." The resort also manages to exude a luxurious air while still creating a kid-friendly atmosphere.
This year, the resort's töst tradition, in which visitors are invited to sip champagne or sparkling cider each day at 2 p.m. on the East Ridge run, will also be revamped this year. Guests can look forward to enjoying an exclusive VIP area with elevated furniture, as well as an extensive collection of champagne to choose from for the daily töst.
Skiers and snowboarders will also be able to enjoy a new Thai food truck this season that will be situated at Mid-Mountain, as well as an updated gourmet French fry cabana complete with a selection of craft beer.
And Northstar's own award-winning ski and snowboard smartphone app, EpicMix, has been updated for the 2016-17 season. The new EpicMix Time app will provide skiers and snowboarders with real-time information on chairlift and gondola line wait times, ensuring all visitors can make the most of their time on the mountain.
The West Shore's Homewood Resort is bringing back Snowcat Adventures for this season, providing awesome access to 750 acres of backcountry skiing and riding for advanced visitors.
And at the end of the day, resort guests can wind down at Homewood's West Shore Café, which recently won the Wine Spectator Award for the second year in a row. The award-winning wine list includes more than 90 quality options from a variety of different producers, as well as plenty of food pairing options to match. The West Shore Café boasts a seasonal, California-inspired menu that features locally sourced ingredients.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe
In an effort to provide expand early season operations, Mt. Rose improved trail conditions this season and added upgrades to the resort's snowmaking system, doubling the amount of snow that can be created. The Slide Bowl side of the resort is expected to open much earlier this season thanks to these investments and upgrades in snow production.
In addition, visitors can expect to see special new deals on lift tickets and lessons at the resort, which will offer a first-timer package that includes a two-hour lesson and gear for $124.
In the spring, Mt. Rose will host the Tahoe Junior Freeride series, as well as a "Local Brewski" event featuring more than 12 local craft breweries. Check skirose.com for the dates to these events, as well as information on the reoccurring events Mt. Rose offers each year.