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Lake Tahoe latest Backcountry skiing guide

Lake Tahoe Latest Backcountry Skiing Guide

Lake Tahoe ski resort has bred the best ski culture in the United States, and many enthusiasts come here every winter for backcountry skiing. In addition, the surrounding entertainment facilities are complete, the programs are abundant, and the après-ski alcohol revelry is also a special attraction here. Now, let’s take a look at the Lake Tahoe travel guide to get a general idea of Lake Tahoe and what to do for wilderness skiing in Lake Tahoe.


What is Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a large lake caused by the subsidence of a fault between two mountain ranges

With multiple hills surrounding the lake, it is a great ski resort in the winter, and the nearby Squaw Village, once the site of the Winter Olympics, is a great place to escape the heat in the summer. In the summer, it is a summer resort and a popular vacation destination for people in the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California. On weekends and holidays, campers can be seen towing jet skis and even canoes along Highway 80 towards Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe has mountain ski resorts such as Heavenly, Sugar Bowl, Squaw Valley, and Alpine Meadows; the largest Squaw Valley is on the north side of the lake.

Whether you’re looking to ski off-resort or deep into the backcountry, the Lake Tahoe area has it all. Read on in this post to see for yourself why we think it’s one of the best places for backcountry skiing in California.

Heavenly ski Resort

Known as the most beautiful ski resort in Lake Tahoe with its majestic mountains and breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Ski Resort is the only snow resort in the West that straddles two states (California and Nevada), with California on the left and Nevada on the right, and Lake Tahoe in front of it, and is extremely suitable for intrepid skiers. Heavenly Ski Resort is also the highest elevation, largest vertical drop, best facility, and most expensive ski resort around Lake Tahoe. The resort offers everything from stylish boutiques and ski jackets to fine dining. A variety of exciting programs and non-stop nightlife are available for the energetic skier to have fun. 

With 97 slopes, a maximum elevation of 3060 meters, a vertical drop of 1067 meters, 1947 hectares of skiable area, an average annual snowfall of 914 centimeters, a ski resort with huge snowfall, the blue Lake Tahoe and the pristine scenery of the Sierra Nevada, such a paradise. How can we not aspire to it!

Northstar ski Resort

If you’re a snowboarder, Polaris is the mountain for you, with everything from halfpipe to kids-only courses. Located just north of Lake Tahoe, Polaris is known for its long runs, fast lifts, first-class service, and facilities, and the fact that it is a billion-dollar ski resort makes it the most luxurious and upscale resort in Lake Tahoe and the most popular ski resort in North America for families. Although it does not have double-black level trails, it has added a number of venues for advanced skiers in recent years.                  

There is exciting skiing at Observation Peak Woods: the backcountry, nine 1-mile-long advanced trails, a 22-foot superpipe designed by White, a total of 100 trails, seven highly respected terrain parks, and 1,283 skiable acres. With an average annual snowfall of 899 centimeters, it’s a pleasure to stand on the slopes and take in the extreme beauty of Lake Tahoe and its distinctive California character.

Kirkwood ski Area

Kirkwood is an hour’s drive from Lake Tahoe.  Although there is no spectacular lake view to enjoy, it is extraordinarily peaceful and natural away from those large resorts.  Kirkwood has the steepest and deepest ski run in the local area, and it is also the ski resort with the largest snow volume and better quality of snow, suitable for intermediate and advanced skiers.  The highest altitude of Kirkwood ski Resort is nearly 3,000 meters.  The annual average snowfall is more than 1,500 centimeters, and the snow can be as deep as 15 meters.  More than 81 ski trails are almost all intermediate and advanced professional ski trails, among which there is a single black snow trail with a steep slope of 42 degrees.  If you want to challenge higher difficulty, you can try The Wall with double diamond (double black line).

Pure alpine adventure, thick snow, steep snow trails, exploring undeveloped snow trails. This is definitely an adventure park for snow lunatics, the best choice!

Mt. Rose ski Resort

Rose Mountain ski Resort is the most popular ski resort in the area. The scenery is as romantic as its name suggests, with views of the quietly beautiful lake and the towering peaks of Reno. Of course, its popularity is not only due to its high-quality snow and gorgeous scenery, but also because of its Chutes runs—two black diamond runs and the longest vertical surface in North America. Many skiers can’t resist the temptation to sneak in and ski when the slopes are closed. With 1,200 acres of slopes, 100 kilometers of slopes, 20% beginner trails, 30% intermediate trails, 40% advanced trails, and 10% expert trails, the Mount Rose ski area is still relatively suitable for intermediate and advanced skiers to challenge themselves. The snow park also provides 6 lifts for visitors to go up and down.       

Diamond Peak ski Resort

Diamond Peak ski Resort is also a popular resort in the Lake Tahoe area. It has a 560-meter drop and nearly 30 kilometers of slopes with a total of six lifts for guests to get on and off. With 18% beginner trails, 46% intermediate trails and 36% advanced trails, Diamond Peak is better suited for intermediate and advanced skiers. It is also a paradise for children. With ski lessons for kids and a kids’ lounge area with toys and snacks, it’s the perfect family vacation break! There are also open ski trails or wooded trails to give snowmobilers more options. The ski area is also easily accessible, with a 50-minute drive from Reno Airport.

Granlibakken Mountain

Granlibakken Mountain is Lake Tahoe’s historic winter wonderland. Since a Norwegian ski jumper opened up the ski hill in 1940, skiing has flourished here. To this day, it has become a paradise for family outings and snow sports. The hills in the resort have a vertical drop of 300 feet, which is very suitable for beginners and intermediate skiers, and there are also special ski courses to help you learn new skills. It is also a very good choice to bring children to play in Granlibakken Mountain. Not only can you ski, but there are also many snack bars on the mountain that provide a variety of delicacies. Snow activities here are very rich, cross-country skiing, hiking and so on. After these outdoor sports, you can also go to the outdoor hot springs to give you the ultimate enjoyment in the ice and snow. In addition to beautiful scenery, there are various snow sports and convenient transportation. It is only a few minutes’ drive from Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe Latest Travel Tips

Lake Tahoe has a dual identity, half California and half Nevada. The two identities meet on the south shore of the lake, where the luxury of a Nevada casino hotel and the rustic atmosphere of a California paradise ski resort collide. Millions of dollars have been invested in this part of Lake Tahoe to enhance the tourism experience. Built of stone and wood, TheShops at Heavenly village features boutique clothing stores, delicious restaurants, a movie theater with multiple screening rooms and year-round bonfires for relaxation and recreation. Craft beer lovers can visit the Stateline Brewery & Restaurant for local brews, and big-name artists like Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars hold summer open-air concerts here. After all this fun, head to Heavenly Village for a full day of local spa treatments and Zen tranquility at Body Essentials.

Sample local favorites like The Naked Fish (the sushi is delicious) in the neighboring South Lake Tahoe community. Rent boats and stand-up paddleboards at Lakeview Commons, Ski Run and Tahoe Keys Marinas in Dorado Beach, EI, so you can take a boat tour of Lake Tahoe on your own or with a guide.

The Fanny Bridge spans the mouth of Lake Tahoe as it flows out of the Tuckee River. Looking down the edge of the lake from the bridge, you can see Lake Tahoe sculpin swirling in the crystal clear water. Stroll downstream along the river and rent an inflatable raft to float in the gentle current of the Truckee River (great for kids and first-time rafters). In winter, Lake Tahoe hosts Snowfest, North Lake Tahoe’s carnival, which features a parade, live music, and snow fun.


Lake Tahoe, as a piece of emerald embedded in the snowy mountains, has long attracted skiers from home and abroad to visit. Not only is the environment beautiful and the facilities complete, but the snow quality is also excellent for snow lovers. If you want to come to the United States to ski, then you might as well come to Lake Tahoe in California. I believe that you will not be disappointed after visiting!


Lake Tahoe backcountry ski map

Lake Tahoe has many ski trails, both suitable for novices and experts. If you are interested, hurry up and try it

What equipment do I need to bring to ski at Lake Tahoe?

  • alpine touring skis
  • Travel boots and walking sticks
  • avalanche safety equipment
  • Windproof and waterproof jacket with hood
  • ski pants
  • helmet
  • Gloves and Hats
  • Foods for quick energy
  • ski goggles
  • First aid kit
  • ski backpack

Can I rent equipment at a ski resort in Lake Tahoe?

Yes, basically all ski equipment can be rented, but we recommend that you bring your own personal items such as ski suits and ski pants. You should contact the staff in advance before renting ski equipment to reduce waiting time

Extended Reading

Notes On Outdoor Skiing

Backcountry Ski Equipment Guide

Things You Should Know About Backcountry Skiing in Colorado

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