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Tahoe tips for 2020

Teleskier

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My first-ever trip to Tahoe is coming up in a few weeks. I could use some current tips and pointers, as several past Tahoe threads are dated.

1) Kirkwood midweek or weekends: I’m staying right at the Heavenly gondola, but also want to ski Kirkwood. Do I ski Heavenly during the less-crowded midweek + less-crowded Kirkwood on the busy weekends, or do I have it backwards? Kirkwood is worth the 2 x 1hr drive? 5 days at Kirkwood and 3 days at Heavenly is the right mix?

2) Northstar: Skip Northstar, or is it worth skipping one day at Kirkwood or Heavenly for there? Not-to-miss north lake scenic drive, or more of the same as I’d see daily on the Kirkwood-Heavenly corridor? I’ll be driving up from SFO where I’ll traverse the southern side of the lake - that’s scenic enough?

3) Food: I wasn’t expecting the hard-to-match amazing food scene of Aspen, but several websites and reviews describe the Tahoe area as a “total culinary wasteland” which has me concerned. Seems surprising for a place within easy driving reach of SFO. Any places to recommend for decent drinks or apps or meals? Any good happy hour or après ski scenes to check out?

4) How are the snow season and conditions looking so far? Seems like it’s off to a slow start? Means a better chance for good snow in late February?

Thanks for any advice…
 

bdfreetuna

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Mt Rose FTW

So you're only choosing between Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood?

Northstar will be the biggest disaster on a weekend, followed closely by Heavenly and Kirkwood (which if I recall has less convenient parking). You'll just have to deal with it if those are the days you're up there. Show up early to avoid long walks.

Kirkwood to Heavenly is a drive through the mountains, it's really scenic but totally different to driving around the East side of Tahoe.

I'd skip Northstar unless you really love groomers and see how conditions are looking at Mt Rose instead


When I was up there a few years ago we stayed at the base of Heavenly and there was plenty of good dining. We were there for 6 days and we ate it up, at least half the time we were going out to nice places and something completely different every time.
 

Edd

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Snoseek is the definitive Tahoe expert on this board. Sounds like you’ve got 8 days of skiing and using an Epic Pass.

Food: When I’m out that way I hit Mexican food hard and the good stuff is easy to find.

Weekends: Saturday is a good day to rest and avoid the shitshows in my book but if you ski I’d seriously consider Homewood or Sierra-at-Tahoe. Smaller areas, both awesome in their own way.

Northstar: It’s got some good terrain and I remember decent restaurants in the village. If you’re doing 8 ski days on Epic only then I’d do a weekday there. Be early.

Last thing: Squaw Valley. It hard for me to fathom going to Tahoe and not hitting it. If you’re sticking to Epic, I understand completely. But consider it.


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jaytrem

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If it's windy be ready to go to Northstar. If you enjoy tree skiing they have plenty. People like to bash the place for being too easy. But if you didn't have a good time the couple days I've been, it would have to be intentional.

Enjoy!
 

bdfreetuna

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re Northstar be sure not to miss Lookout Mountain / Martis Camp. Only legit steep part of the ski area and has a very different character than the rest of the mountain. Tree skiing, bumps, steeps, and steep groomers too. "Prosser" reminded me of a double-length "Lower Ovation" at Killington. Probably also the least crowded area of the resort.

Also liked lapping Rendezvous Chair and skiing trails off the East Ridge. The Backside I thought wasn't that great in comparison to Lookout but you'll want to check it out for yourself anyway.
 
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Agree with the sentiments above. I'd also recommend the Himmel Haus for après across the street from the tram base area at Heavenly. There are also a couple of solid sushi places in South Lake Tahoe and a solid place to get a burger and beer in Truckee if you go to Northstar.

SLT is a funky place. Lots of old boarder line rundown 60s era places intertwined with newer and fancier stuff. If you're into casinos, there are plenty on the Nevada side, too. Not my cup of tea though.

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snoseek

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I would ski kirkwood Saturdays for sure. You NEED to get there early or you will sit in traffic and it may park out. Sunday at heavenly isn't usually too bad if you avoid sky and dipper chairs.if things get crazy check out north bowl for elbow room. Kirkwood has better terrain overall imo but heavenly is great if you explore away from the main areas. Northstar is ok...would rather ski Stowe honestly. I guess it's good on a storm day but if you're on the south shore you're probably better off at Sierra.

I agree with Tuna about rose. If it's a nice day go. Lots of good low key areas around the lake away from the epic shitshow.

Food is pretty bad. Most Mexican is a safe bet. Blue dog is good pizza. Aleworx was my favorite place to drink beer...its gotta unique self pour set up I like. Kirkwood inn is a unique place for beers after...food is overpriced a bit.

I suggest remaining flexible about where you ski as weather can shut certain areas down. The gondola often shuts and creates a bit of chaos so I emphasize start the day early and get to boulder if it get crazy.
 

bheemsoth

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Anyone have any thoughts on Sierra? I know it's not the premiere mountain in the area, but I have an opportunity to get there on a one day bus trip during a business trip to San Francisco at the end of the month.
 

snoseek

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Anyone have any thoughts on Sierra? I know it's not the premiere mountain in the area, but I have an opportunity to get there on a one day bus trip during a business trip to San Francisco at the end of the month.

Maybe the best tree skiing in Tahoe. Efficient lifts and near the Crest that it can dump. Place is fantastic!
 

snoseek

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I've not been to diamond peak but it looks real fun and low key if you have base. They do sit on the dry side of the lake.

Sugar bowl sits up on the Crest and has some good steep terrain.
 

Teleskier

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Some good tips!

Mt Rose and Squaw do sound interesting, but I'm trying to maximize my Epic pass. Haven't skied much on it yet back home here so far to recoup the cost. Gotta bring my average day price down. :)

I had a similar feeling - Mexican, Asian, burgers and beer would likely be the better bets there given the limited culinary landscape. 'High prices for low quality' seemed another common review refrain.

Right now I'm leaning against Northstar... but good tip to keep it as an option given wind and weather. Or if I get bored (doubt it).

I'll split the weekends. I arrive late at 4am the first Saturday, where the ease of the Heavenly gondola midday wins (no parking hassles). The last Saturday I'll make sure to arrive at Kirkwood parking early enough, and contrast it to the prior Saturday at Heavenly. I also read that Kirkwood has more altitude and less chance of Sierra cement, as another weather consideration.
 

snoseek

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Kirkwood is 7800 so it sits pretty high along with rose those are the areas to avoid rain. They can be rough or even closed if it storms. If it storms you should plan on getting to stagecoach early...take the bus even. That lift pretty much always goes and serves some good trees along with northbowl.
 

Bandit2941

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Kirkwood is not to be missed! I would hit it on the weekend. Never been to Northstar, but Mt. Rose is definitely worth a visit, and Sierra at Tahoe is nice too, great tree skiing.

As others have said there’s cool stuff at Heavenly if you look around. We spent some time in Mott Canyon last time we were there. Great skiing and no lines at that chair.

I disagree that the food is bad in Tahoe. We enjoy Fire & Ice (pick your food from the buffet “ice”, then they cook it on a community grill “fire”) and base camp pizza in heavenly village. There are also a number of good restaurants for all tastes and budgets in the casinos that are right there.

enjoy!
 

snoseek

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Its not so much that the food is terrible but more that its overpriced and kinda blah. I feel the same way about lots of tourist areas like summit county ect...
I would usually end up down at reno/Carson if I wanted to eat out. Base camp is good imo. Azul is decent I guess.
 

medfordmike

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Diamond Peak is low key. Great views and at least two years ago they gave a great discount if you had a pass to any other mountain. Not huge but skied there a weekend and was not packed. They don’t have a ton of parking


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bheemsoth

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Great - thanks! I was hoping to make it to one of the other mountains, but I am restricted by the bus charter schedule. I will go head and book.

Thanks!
 
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