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Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows
 Skiing & Snowboarding Resort Guide

Squaw Valley is the crown jewel of Lake Tahoe. This North Lake Tahoe ski and snowboard area has been one of the the centers of the skiing world for many years, from hosting the 1960 Winter Olympic games, to its role in launching the careers of professional ski legends like Scott Schmidt and Shane McConkey. Squaw Valley also operates in tandem with nextdoor Alpine Meadows, which used to operate as a separate ski and snowboard area. The two are not physically connected (although that is in the plans), however tickets are interchangeable and a free shuttle operates between the two. While Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are best known for the advanced and expert terrain, there is a good mix for every ability of skier and snowboarders. As one of the birthplaces of modern “extreme” skiing, however, the steeps and tight chutes are what have made these mountains famous around the world. There is lodging available at Squaw Valley, too, so visiting skiers and snowboarders can stay right at the base of the mountain or in nearby Truckee.

Mountain Overview

Squaw Valley Ski and Snowboard Area

Squaw Valley:
The terrain at Squaw Valley is amazing for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, from those making their first turns to the professionals that frequent the resort. There is a dedicated learning area at the base of the mountain for those just getting started out. For more confident beginners, there is great terrain higher up on the mountain, too, in the High Camp area. Both the Tram and the Gold Coast Funitel access this area. The Tram is a fun novelty, but the lines can be long.

Intermediate skiers and snowboarders will also want to head to this part of the mountain. The Siberia, Gold Coast, and Emigrant lifts are where intermediates will want to explore as well as the backside. The backside Granite Chief and Shirley lake chairlifts have lots of different intermediate terrain to explore. There are more trees here than in High Camp, making this area better during low visibility and windy days.

Advanced terrain is where Squaw Valley really begins to shine, the options are seemingly endless. Granite Chief has a good variety of terrain. Including some trees, which some of the mountain’s other advanced terrain lacks. The Silverado, Headwall, and Cornice chairs hold more fun terrain for advanced skiers and snowboarders. The Red Dog lift can be overlooked on a powder day sometimes, check it out for fresh turns. A short hike from the Siberia lift is The Palisades. These chutes are legendary, and for expert skiers and snowboarders only. They are steep, gnarly, and often feature mandatory cliff hucks. CHeck out Squaw Valley legend Scott Gaffney's breakdown of the Palisades here.

Squaw Valley’s most famous KT-22 chairlift rises straight from the base area, and access some of the resort's most well known lines. It is not uncommon to find locals camping out or cooking breakfast in this chairline, as well as many other playful antics inspired by Squaw Valley legend Shane McConkey. Keep your eyes on these guys throughout the day, odds are they’ll be hucking huge cliffs and riding the gnarly lines that helped inspire the modern “extreme skiing” movement. The runs on the west face, like Mosely’s, Chute 75, and Rock Garden are Squaw classics.

Alpine Meadows:

Alpine Meadows is a great mountain, with a lot of fun advanced skiing and snowboarding. Beginners have some options near the base area, however, Squaw’s High Camp lets skiers and snowboarders explore more. Intermediate riders will have a great time at Alpine Meadows, the Hotwheels and Roundhouse have a lot of terrain to explore. The backside Lakeview chair serves mostly intermediate terrain, too. Intermediate skiers and snowboarders can also get a taste of the more exposed upper mountain terrain off of the Summit Six chairlift on the Alpine Bowl run.

Advanced skiers will love Alpine Meadows, snowboarders can have a bit tougher of a time, however, due to flat areas and traverses. The Summit Six and Scott chairlifts access a lot of the advanced terrain, which is typically steep with lots of natural features like small cliffs to jump off of and jib on. After big snowstorms, the Summit Six will be the first chairlift to open, followed by others as ski patrol deems the conditions safe. The Alpine Bowl Chair leads to some of the steepest terrain at Alpine Meadows. The wide open bowls on the backside can be a ton of fun, too, the farther out from the Sherwood Express chairlift, the longer fresh powder lasts after storms.

Mountain Stats & Squaw Valley Trail Map

Squaw Valley Trail Map
 Total Skiable Acres3,600 Beginner Terrain 25%
 Base Elevation 6,200' Intermeidate Terrain 45%
 Summit Elevation 9,050' Advanced Terrain 30%
 Vertical Drop2,850'Average Annual Snowfall450"
Total Lifts29  

Alpine Meadows Trailmap

Alpine Meadows Trail Map
 Total Skiable Acres2,400 Beginner Terrain 25%
 Base Elevation 6,835' Intermeidate Terrain 40%
 Summit Elevation 8,637' Advanced Terrain 35%
 Vertical Drop1,802'Average Annual Snowfall450"
Total Lifts13  

Travel Information & Directions

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are located in the North Lake Tahoe region. Driving, Squaw is 20 minutes from Truckee, 60 minutes from Reno, 120 minutes from Sacramento, and four hours from the San Francisco Bay Area. The Reno-Tahoe Airport (RNO) is the closest airport to Squaw Alpine. There are several bus services that operate to the ski and snowboard area from the greater northern California area.
Travel Resources:

Travel Directions to Squaw Valley

Lodging Information

There are a handful of lodging options at the base of Squaw Valley. These are typically apartment or condo style units, that carry a premium price tag. More economical lodging is available in nearby Truckee, where there is a wide range of accommodations available. Staying in Truckee also allows access to the other nearby North lake Tahoe ski and snowboard areas.
Squaw Alpine Lodging Overview
Truckee Lodging

Our Favorite Snowboards for Squaw Valley

Local Food Picks

There are a ton of dining options at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. The on-mountain options are plentiful at the various lodges, as well as at the base areas. Dave’s Deli at the Squaw Base is a favorite to grab lunch or an apres ski snack. Le Chamois, or just “the chammy” is the favorite apres watering hole. It’s divey, filled with Squaw memorabilia, and it’s a good spot to meet the locals. Mamasake is a nice spot for dinner with California style sushi and Japanese inspired tapas.
Squaw Valley Dining:

Squaw Dining Overview
Le Chamois

Our Favorite Skis For Squaw Alpine

Where to Find Lift tickets to Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows?

Squaw Valley lift tickets are some of the most expensive in Lake Tahoe. They do, however, access all of Squaw and Alpine Meadows, a total of 5,000 skiable acres. Skiers and snowboarders can save some money by buying lift tickets online in advance, at least two days ahead of time. Children, young adults and seniors are eligible for discount Squaw Valley lift tickets.
Squaw Alpime Lift Tickets

Squaw ValleyWeather Information

It snows a lot at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, 450” in an average winter. That is over 37 feet of snow. This means there is a lot of powder to ski throughout the year. The storms that bring all of this snowfall often bring multiple feet at a time, which can often shut down much of the ski areas until the resort digs out, and ski patrol deems the terrain safe. Lots of sunshine allows for plenty of great days in the exposed alpine terrain, too. The local skiers and snowboarders are a dedicated bunch, so make sure to set your alarm nice and early on powder days.
Squaw Alpine Weather Resources

Squaw Valley Ski Report
Alpine Meadows Ski Report

It’s certainly not a secret that Alta is one of the best ski areas in Utah, and the Unites States as a whole. The awesome terrain, and even better snow draws in some of the best skiers in the world every year, from professionals to the hardworking ski bums that serve visitors at the area’s lodges and restaurants. The base lodges make for an awesome destination, while proximity to Salt Lake City means easy access, or planning for a multiple resort trip. Plan to knock this one off your bucket list ASAP!

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