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Kirkwood Skiing & Snowboarding Resort Guide

While it is a bit removed from Lake Tahoe itself, Kirkwood certainly offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the South Lake Tahoe area. With over 600” of snow in an average year and a relatively mellow atmosphere compared to some other Lake Tahoe resorts, Kirkwood is a powder hound’s paradise. Advanced and expert skiers will find great terrain all over the mountain. Due to recent developments of the base area, there is plenty of lodging, which makes Kirkwood a great destination resort, too.

Mountain Overview

Kirkwood Ski and Snowboard Area

Kirkwood is a mountain very well suited to advanced skiers and snowboarders, although there is terrain for all ability levels. While Heavenly may be known for its tree skiing, and Squaw for its cliffs and chutes, Kirkwood has a little bit of everything. The mountain has two base areas, with the lower Timber Creek base holding the majority of Kirkwood’s beginner terrain. Accessing Kirkwood’s best terrain often requires traversing, which does make the mountain a bit challenging at times for snowboarders.

The chairlifts at Kirkwood are typically referred to by their number rather than name. Chair 11 is a good place to start out a trip to Kirkwood, it's a good gauge of where to head next, too. If the terrain here is too steep, try Chair 5. If not, head on over to the Chair 6 to get to some of the steepest and best terrain at Kirkwood. The traverse out to the skier’s left form Chair 6 brings skiers and snowboarders to a wide variety of terrain that ranges from chutes and gullies, to trees and open bowls. Sentinel Bowl and Palisades Bowl are a ton of fun, with a lot to explore. They both drop towards the Timber Creek base area. Also on the front side is some of the steepest and gnarliest terrain at Kirkwood. Between Chair 10 and Chair 6 Wagon Wheel Bowl and the various chutes are sure to get the blood pumping.

On a powder day, ski patrol will gradually open terrain when it’s safe. The backside Chairs 3 and 4 are typically the last to open. This means that fresh snow can be found out here later in the day. The backside has more wide open terrain, fun intermediate skiing, and natural terrain for experts to play on.

Mountain Stats & Kirkwood Trail Map

Kirkwood Trail Map
 Total Skiable Acres 2,300 Beginner Terrain 12%
 Base Elevation 7,800' Intermeidate Terrain 30%
 Summit Elevation 9,800' Advanced Terrain 38%
 Vertical Drop2,000'Expert Terrain20%
Total Lifts15Average Annual Snowfall600"

Travel Information & Directions

Kirkwood is located in the South Lake Tahoe region. Driving, Kirkwood is 45 minutes from South Lake Tahoe, two hours and 15 minutes from Sacramento, three and a half hours from San Francisco, and 95 minutes from Reno. The Reno Tahoe Airport (RNO) is the closest airport, followed by Sacramento (SMF), then San Francisco (SFO). There are a couple shuttles that operate from the Bay Area.
Travel Resources:

Travel Directions to Kirkwood
Kirkwood Shuttles

Lodging Information

Kirkwood has a small base area village with a handful of different lodging options. The majority of these options are condos and townhomes, which can be great for longer stays. South Lake Tahoe and its various lodging options are also only a 45 minute drive, for skiers and snowboarders that want the option to ride at multiple Lake Tahoe resorts.
Kirkwood Lodging Overview
Other Tahoe Lodging

Our Favorite Snowboarder for Kirkwood
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Local Food Picks

Kirkwood has the typically array of on-mountain dining options from cafes to restaurants and bars. In the village, options are somewhat limited, and the nightlife is pretty sleepy. For those skiers and snowboarders looking for a more active apres scene, South Lake Tahoe has got you covered. For visitors staying in the condos and townhomes in the village it is recommended to bring in your own groceries.
Kirkwood Dining:

Kirkwood Dining Overview

Our Favorite Skis For Kirkwood
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Where to Find Lift Tickets to Kirkwood?

Lift ticket prices at Kirkwood are on par with the other large ski and snowboard areas in Lake Tahoe, resorts like Squaw Valley and Heavenly. Skiers and snowboarders can save up to %20 off by buying lift tickets in advance online. Children, teens, and seniors are eligible for discount lift tickets, too. Kirkwood is included on Vail Resorts Epic Pass, as well as the Tahoe Local Pass, which includes Kirkwood, Heavenly, and Northstar.
Kirkwood Lift Tickets
Epic Pass

Kirkwood Weather Information

Kirkwood is located at a higher altitude than many Lake Tahoe ski and snowboard areas. This means that the quality of snow that falls at Kirkwood is often better than the heavy “Sierra Cement” snow that can plague the lower areas. The quality of snow is higher, and so is the quantity with a massive average annual snowfall of 600”.
Kirkwood Weather Resources

Kirkwood Ski Report

Slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of South Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood is an awesome ski and snowboard destination in the Lake Tahoe area. The terrain has super fun variety for advanced and expert skiers to explore, with everything from open bowls to steep chutes. The snow falls light and deep on the mountain, making for epic powder skiing and snowboarding all season long.

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