Kirkwood Ski Resort
Kirkwood Ski Resort is only 45 minutes from South Lake Tahoe, but it feels worlds away. South Lake Tahoe is great if you like resorts and entertainment — a miniature Las Vegas on a beautiful blue lake in the Sierra Nevada. For a quiet ski vacation away from bright lights and urban noise, though, Kirkwood Mountain Resort is the place to go.
Kirkwood Ski Resort boasts that it has the best powder in the Lake Tahoe area and the statistics back that up. In a recent year, the ski area had over 800 inches of snow. This makes the mountain especially suitable for alpine snowboarders (those who like carving through powder more than jumping through terrain parks). The considerable snowfall covers terrain suitable for all abilities.
Beginners will enjoy the large learning area, serviced by its own lift and featuring several gentle but interesting runs. Most of the Kirkwood Mountain Resort is suitable for intermediate and advance skiers. The groomed runs of the Sentinel Bowl are especially popular. Intermediates should not be put off by some of the black diamond markers; the runs from Cornice Chair and Reut Chair are well within the range of most competent downhillers.
There is plenty of expert terrain, however, and the double-black diamonds at Kirkwood Ski Resort should be treated with due respect. The steep runs and chutes off the Wagonwheel lift will thrill even the most expert skier.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort was founded in 1972, as Lake Tahoe became an increasingly popular ski destination in the wake of the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley. Unlike Squaw Valley, Kirkwood Ski Area is located south of Lake Tahoe. Other nearby resorts include Heavenly Mountain and Sierra-at-Tahoe. The South Shore of the Lake is more developed and has a better nightlife. Staying at South Lake Tahoe and getting passes to Heavenly, Sierra-at-Tahoe, and Kirkwood makes for a great California ski vacation.
Traditionally, Kirkwood’s location high in the Sierra Nevada gave it an extended ski season, often beginning in early November and lasting until May. Recent years of poor snowfall across California has persuaded the mountain to invest more in snowmaking machines to ensure it keeps a long season.
Until recently, there was not much at Kirkwood Ski Area except the slopes. A spurt of development over the last decade has changed that. There’s now a mountain village with shopping, restaurants, bars, and hotels. Slopeside accommodation is available and there are other good places to stay with a short distance of the lifts. A gondola takes riders from the main town to the slopes.
Whether you choose to stay at Kirkwood Mountain Resort, at Heavenly Mountain, or in the excitement of South Lake Tahoe, the powder at Kirkwood Ski Area will make a ski vacation here one to remember.
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