What is the Best Lake Tahoe Ski Resort?

I get asked about the best Lake Tahoe ski resort constantly. With 14 different resorts, the answer isn’t as straight forward as you would think. There are so many different styles of ski resorts at Lake Tahoe, it’s impossible to narrow it down, especially if you visit Lake Tahoe in December.

In fact, you’ll find the best skiing in Lake Tahoe at almost all of the available resorts. Why? There’s a resort for every kind of skier and rider.

From the cheapest ski resorts in Lake Tahoe to the best places to ski in Tahoe this list gives you the complete run down of all things ski and snowboard in Tahoe.

I used to live in this fantastic winter playground. In fact, my family still lives in Lake Tahoe and I’ve been coming here for over 18 years. As such, I’m an expert on the best skiing in Tahoe.

About this Guide to the Best Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts

If you’re looking to round out your Lake Tahoe winter itinerary, then skiing must be at the top of your list. Sure there are other things to do in Lake Tahoe in winter besides ski, but the ski resorts at Lake Tahoe are a must-see attraction.

Here’s what you’ll find in this post to the best Tahoe ski resorts:

  • Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe without the crowds that locals love best
  • The best Tahoe ski resorts for beginners
  • Cheapest ski resorts in Tahoe for the budget-conscious
  • The best Tahoe ski resorts you can’t miss
best lake tahoe ski resorts

The Best Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe Without the Crowds

What is the best Lake Tahoe ski resort you ask? Well, as a local, my answer is the one without the crowds. Big name ski resorts like Heavenly, Northstar, and Squaw Valley may offer excellent skiing, but be prepared to wait in long lift lines.

These amazing lake Tahoe ski resorts keep a local vibe. With fewer crowds, you’ll have more epic pow runs.

Diamond Peak

Best For: A community experience with stellar lake views.

Diamond Peak is owned by the town of Incline Village, Nevada. It’s unique ownership means that you’ll find all the local cheer here at Diamond Peak.

Located on the North Shore, there are expansive views of the lake (check out the namesake Lake View run). For a small resort (only 30 runs), it’s jam-packed with fun-filled terrain.

Mostly built for intermiediate skiers and riders there are plenty of gorgeous glades and a few steep black diamond runs to keep your attention. Try not to trip over yourself as you gasp at the gorgeous views.

Another bonus? Diamond Peak costs about half the price as most of the other resorts in the area and kids under 6 ski free.

Sierra-at-Tahoe

Best For: Powderhounds looking to escape the crowds at the lake.

Located 12 miles away from Lake Tahoe proper, Siera-at-Tahoe gets much of it’s local love from the 480 inches of fresh powder you’ll find here.

This top-notch Lake Tahoe ski resort showcases awesome access to Huckleberry Canyon, terrain parks loaded with features, and a local vibe that you just have to experience to really understand.

A big selling point is most of the runs offer wind protection, a real lifesaver on a cold bluebird day.

Kirkwood Resort is Offers the Best Powder Skiing in Tahoe

Best For: Advanced skiers and riders who want to huck it on over 2,000 feet of vertical drop.

Back in the day, all the locals went to Alpine Meadows. Today, they flock to Kirkwood Resort. Arguably the best Lake Tahoe Ski Resort for advanced terrain, Kirkwood gets some serious street cred for it’s steep and deep terrain. Don’t forget to huck off a cornice or cliff for good luck!

However, if you’re a beginner there’s still a lot on offer at Kirkwood. Not to mention they have an excellent ski school to learn the slopes.

best lake tahoe ski resorts for beginners

Sugar Bowl

Best For: budget-friendly park riding.

Family-owned since 1939 Sugar Bowl is a community place that offers a friendly feel for old-school skiing. It’s a top Tahoe ski resort for locals much in part due to its classic charm and fun features.

Parks at Sugar Bowl are awesome, and an affordable lift ticket to match. Come hang out on the top of Donner Summit this season and see what all the local park kids are raving about.

Royal Gorge

Best For: Cross-country skiing

Known for being the single biggest cross-country ski resort on the continent, Royal Gorge is tucked away on Soda Springs, California, and is a great place to try a bit of cross-country skiing.

After all, this is one of the best ski resorts in Lake Tahoe with upwards of 65 trails that cover an incredible 195 kilometers of land.

And when you start to feel the cold, you can take a break and warm up inside one of 8 warming huts.

Palisades Tahoe

Best For: Serious skiers looking for spring skiing since this mountain has the longest ski season in the area.

This iconic ski resort in north Lake Tahoe features upwards of 6,000 acres of skiable terrain that is internationally recognized. After all, the mountain receives upwards of 450 inches of snow annually.

Additionally, there are 42 lifts for visitors to access as well as 270 different trails to explore. And while there are a wealth of advanced trails, there is still a mountain-top beginner area and several intermediate runs for less experienced skiers to try.

Then, after you’ve finished skiing, check out the European-esq village at Palisades Tahoe with upwards of 65 different art galleries, restaurants, and bars.

The Best Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe for Beginners

Although nearly every resort in Lake Tahoe offers up beginner options, there are a few standout areas that make up the best ski resorts in Lake Tahoe for beginners.

Northstar Mountain

Best For: Families and people who want to learn how to ride in terrain parks.

Northstar Mountain, located near Truckee, CA brings a family-friendly atitude to skiing and riding. In fact, it’s consistently ranked one of the top family-friendly ski resorts in the country.

Their ski lesson program is top-notch and they even offer childcare for parents who want a little time to shred alone. This, coupled with amazing terrain parks for all levels, will keep kids happy and engaged in the day.

Not to mention, they have one of the slickest villages in all of Tahoe. Seriously. With ice skating, firepits with s’mores, one of the best tubing hills in Tahoe, and endless dining options, it’s a great one-stop-shop for families.

Heavenly Mountain Resort

Best For: People who never like to ride the same run twice and who also love a good Apres.

Heavenly is one of the largest resorts in Lake Tahoe. It has a lot of notches in its belt including the most vert (3,500-feet), 28 lifts and nearly 100 runs, and it’s the highest (10,067 feet). You can even ski right across the state line (how cool is that?).

There are a lot of awesome ski school options at Heavenly. From private lessons to multi-day sessions, you’ll be spoilt for choice with beginner terrain. Not to mention, if you have more seasoned friends in tow, they will stay occupied with all the skiable runs around.

Afterward, meet up at the LAT38 bar for drinks and live music. With South Lake right at your fingertips, you’ll have plenty of parties for apres.

Just remember, Heavenly is arguably the busiest ski resort in Lake Tahoe, so don’t come here expecting solitude.

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows Are Two of the Best Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts

Best For: Families and groups with varying skill levels.

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows used to duke it out for the most varried terrain in Lake Tahoe. Then they merged.

Home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley is a classic Lake Tahoe ski resort. With a cool tram and a dedicated beginner area, you’ll get a classic skiing experience. It’s no wonder that Squaw Valley is one of the best Lake Tahoe ski resorts.

More intermediate and advanced skiers will love the steep chutes at Squaw and the miles of hikeable terrain at Alpine Meadows.

Squaw Valley also boasts a cute village scene. You may think you’ve been transported to the Alps after a full day exploring this epic mountain.

lake tahoe in december

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort

Best For: Perfect for families and anyone looking for a ski resort off the beaten path.

Located near northwest Lake Tahoe in Alpine Meadows, California, this is one of the best Lake Tahoe ski resorts that features 2,400 acres of terrain, with 1,802 feet of vertical drop, that can be accessed using one of 13 different lifts.

And while you’re skiing experience always comes first at Alpine Meadows, this resort is known for its awesome hospitality, stunning European-style, chalets, and diverse array of terrain that is perfect for skiers of all abilities.

You’ll also love that a stay here includes tickets to Squaw Valley too.

The Cheapest Ski Resorts in Tahoe

Everyone wants to save money on their ski vacation. So why not choose a budget-friendly place to hit the slopes?

These budget-friendly ski resorts in Lake Tahoe let you try skiing without the steep price tag. These may be the cheapest ski resorts in Tahoe, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as incredible as their more expensive cousins.

Homewood

Best For: People who want no-frills skiing at an affordable price.

The biggest selling point for Homewood (aside from the price tag) are the views. As the closest resort to Lake Tahoe, Homewood feels like you might just ski right of the snow and straight into the lake.

The resort is a bit old-school, but just because there isn’t a fancy village or crazy fast lifts, doesn’t mean you can’t have a blast. Check out some of the best glades in Tahoe. Enjoy the relaxed vibes and tree skiing. For a special treat, go on a guided snowcat adventure to hit up some untracked powder.

Mt Rose

Best For: Off-pieste feasts: Steep chutes, untouched trees, and pow stashes.

Mount Rose Ski Resort deserves more accolades than it gets. with over 1,200 acres of ski terrain, there are plenty of amazing gems for advanced skiers and riders.

Beginners and intermediates have plenty of space too, which is why this resort is so stellar. Hit up the Chutes (when they are open) for some of Lake Tahoe’s most extreme ski terrain. Just nearby are suitable blue runs for the intermediate skier.

If you are willing to walk (or skate) then you can even find the most secret of pow stashes too. The best part? Lift tickets run about $20 to $30 less than the big name resorts.

Things to do in south lake tahoe in winter

Tahoe Donner

Best For: Beginners on a budget.

Tahoe Donner is a small, but mighty resort that allows beginners to learn in peace and quiet. A far cry from the crowds at Heavenly and Northstar, Tahoe Donner is the old-school ski resort of your dreams.

It’s affordable prices mean you can learn without taking out a small loan. Not to mention the terrain is short (600 vertical feet) making it approachable for newbie skiers.

Overall, the best Lake Tahoe ski resorts really depend on what kind of skiing atmosphere you’re looking for. Lake Tahoe offers so many different options for skiing, that it’s hard to choose just one resort.

Additional Lake Tahoe resources

Travel like a local with these incredible Lake Tahoe travel resources:

Planning a skiing trip to Lake Tahoe? Lake Tahoe is one of the best skiing destinations in the USA, and if you're wondering where to start planning your winter getaway, these are the best ski resorts in Lake Tahoe to get you started!

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Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure. She'd rather be dirty than done up.