Shifting seasons: Ski resorts prep for summer operations
April 30, 2018
As snow continues to melt and many put their skis away for the season, local ski resorts are gearing up for summer activities including mountain biking, hiking and music festivals.
Not only has the scenic Lake Tahoe long been a hub for skiers and snowboarders, but its variety of hiking trails and abundance of outdoor activities has made it a prominent summer destination.
The Truckee California Welcome Center receives over 160,000 visitors a year, according to the Truckee Chamber of Commerce. As the ski industry has seen a decline in business in the past decade, according to a report by the National Ski Area Association, many winter resorts have evolved into year-round destinations looking to make up for the shrinking clientele.
"Summer is a very different experience," said Sam Kieckhefer, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Public Relations Coordinator. He said the warmer weather draws most visitors to the village where the resort hosts a variety of free events including their annual summer music series. Though it's hard to gauge exact attendance Kieckhefer said he has witnessed thousands of people at past summer events along with "really strong occupancy" rates in village lodging throughout the summer.
“March gave us a lot of snow. Now we’re able to enjoy what the winter gave us, which filled up our lakes.”
— Derek Moore, Tahoe Donner Ski Area
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"One of the beauties of Lake Tahoe is the variety of activities," said Kieckhefer. "You can come here and go skiing and mountain biking and you're only 10 minutes from the lake."
Squaw Valley will be the last Lake Tahoe resort to end winter operations, turning its lifts for spring skiing until May 28. The mountain typically opens for hiking following closing day, though the remaining snowpack may limit accessibility to trails.
During the warmer months Tahoe Donner Ski Area will be offering guided backcountry tours on their extensive trail network, horseback riding, archery clinics and children's day camps beginning June 22.
"We're in that transition time and right now we're busy preparing our summer amenities," said Derek Moore, Tahoe Donner Marketing Engagement Lead.
Northstar is set to open the hill for mountain biking as soon as the melting snow permits it, as well as scenic lift rides and guided hiking tours. The village will also remain open with free roller skating and live music throughout the summer.
While larger resorts such as Squaw Valley and Northstar tend to draw large crowds from out of town, smaller resorts like Tahoe Donner offer year-round amenities hoping to attract locals and visitors alike.
"We definitely encourage people that are visiting from out of town to check us out," said Moore. "March gave us a lot of snow. Now we're able to enjoy what the winter gave us, which filled up our lakes."
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Truckee Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com or 503-550-2652.