North Lake Tahoe Local Guide
North Lake Tahoe offers stunning views, unique geological features including one of the largest Alpine Lakes in North America, and easy access to tons of outdoor activities. This region can appeal to people from all walks of life, as it offers not only access to human powered sports, but also a rich culture, excellent dining options, and a history that includes the Olympics back in 1960. Reports of a lake dwelling creature with a massive appetite and green skin, nicknamed Tessie, have circled the region for centuries, only adding to the mystic draw of this region and the history surrounding it. The North Lake Tahoe region is home to a number of small towns, including Incline Village, Kings Beach, and the most iconic, Truckee. Not only is this place famous for its ski resorts, but it is also able to offer water sports not available in many other ski destinations.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is an iconic destination for advanced, intermediate, and beginner skiers for many reasons. It has been voted the Best Ski Resort in North America for the third year in a row by USA Today and 10 Best Readers’ Choice. This resort spans over 6,000 skiable acres, with 65% beginner terrain, legendary steeps, and 14 separate mountain zones which makes it easy to navigate and understand where you are headed. Boasting an annual average of 450 inches of snowfall and 300 sunny California days, it is hard to beat the conditions available to skiers and riders that choose to visit this iconic destination.
Northstar Resort is in the Martis Valley of North Lake Tahoe, and is about 20 minutes from the town of Truckee, mentioned above. Even from the San Frisco Bay area, it is only about 3.5 hours so making a quick weekend trip when the conditions seem right is a nice option for folks that are lucky enough to live in the area. Northstar is part of the pic Pass family, meaning it is operated by Vail Resorts. This is in contrast to the other major ski destination in the area, Squaw Valley, which is now signed up to be a part of the Icon Pass. Northstar is actually built on an extinct volcano, Mount Pluto, that last erupted 2 million years ago causing the geologic feature that we now call Lake Tahoe. Northstar has over 100 trails, with 13% beginner terrain, 60% intermediate terrain, and 27% advanced terrain, meaning it is an excellent place for family skiing in which everyone can find what they may be looking for,
North Lake Tahoe has so many non-skiing activities that its busy season is almost year round, instead of being winter focused like many other iconic ski destinations. Past of the magic of Lake Tahoe in general is that if you are willing to drive an hour or so and depending on weather conditions, you can do almost any outdoor activity you want to. If you want to take a day off from skiing in the winter, you can head to warmer weather within an hour or so and hike, mountain bike, try climbing, or even go paddle boarding on the lake if you happen to be around in the spring and get some warm weather. Elevation plays a huge role in the Lake Tahoe area, so if skiing is not your thing but you still want to get outdoors and experience the area, head downhill a bit and watch the temperature steadily rise until you feel comfortable! In the winter, if you don’t feel like driving but still want to spend some time off the hill doing other activities, you can head to Northstar and go ice skating, snow tubing, watch a movie at their theatre, or even wait until 4pm at the Village Overlook for complimentary s’mores! There is an aerial treetop adventure course at the Granlibakken, which was one of North Lake Tahoe’s first ski resorts, that features a series of bridges, zip lines, and other features to keep your heart pounding. With Tahoe’s low light pollution, dry environment, and high elevation, the conditions come together in just the right way to be able to offer great star gazing experiences. If you want to learn from one of the best, award winning astronomer Tony Berendsen leads star tours on weekend evenings in North Lake Tahoe.