Skiing in the High Sierras


Even if you live along the coast or in southern California, you may look forward to the “winter season” each year as you know that the snow is falling in the High Sierras. There are a dozen amazing wintertime adventures waiting for you in the mountains. If you’re into skiing in the High Sierras,


The Snow Gods Giveth and the Snow Gods Taketh Away

2017 was a banner year for snowfall in the High Sierras. Here are some of figures and snowfall totals from last year that have given the 2017-18 season an incredibly early start with some ski resorts opening as early as July of this year. Now, who knows what will happen this year, much less next year, but we do know that if you’re wondering when the ski resorts open, you’ve already missed the big headline-making news.


Notable Ski Resorts

Depending on how close and how big your ski area needs to be, there are almost a dozen ski resorts in the Tahoe area, but there are also what we like to call the Big 3:


  • Squaw Valley: Site of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, this 3,600-acre, 170-trail resort has all the trappings and renown of a world-class resort. Top of the line and great for all skill levels, this is great place to start and a great place to revisit as you take your skiing habit to the next level.
  • Heavenly Mountain Resort: We don’t want to diss the skiing. With 34 miles of ski runs and about 100 trails, this resort has plenty of skiing for everyone, but that said, its calling card is the breathtaking surroundings. If you’re into the mountain scenery as much as the skiing, this is the spot for you.
  • Northstar: This is the place for intermediate skiers and family-friendly vacations. Nearly three-fourths of the runs are rated as beginner or moderate. This is also one of the best destinations in all of California for terrain parks.


To read more about these and other ski resorts in the Tahoe area, check out this feature article from PlanetWare.


Online Resources to Help Plan Your Trip

  • Looking for transportation advice and shuttle service? You can find general travel information about getting to the Tahoe area here as well as specific information for the local South Shore Shuttle
  • Looking for custom skis made from a local shop? We recommend you check out Community Skis (formerly known as 333 Skis).
  • Looking for discount California lift tickets? California Ski Authority has a solid beat on the best deals that come available each year.
  • Looking for lodging at any number of California ski resorts? Consider the ratings and reviews of big-name online sources like Trip Advisor.

The 165 Mile Club and the Tahoe Rim Trail in Winter


As avid skiers, we love to talk to our Colorado friends, and one of the things we like to tease them about is their “mile-high club” and how freaking wimpy it is. We’re not saying people from Colorado take the easy way out. What we’re saying is that, when it comes to Sierra Heritage, our club is 165 miles long. And it’s not about height; it’s about length.

But seriously, the Lake Tahoe Rim Trail is a magical place. Especially at various spots during various times of the year. Which is to say, the Lake Tahoe Rim Trail isn’t exactly hurting for press, and we wouldn’t exactly call it a “hidden gem.” Except, perhaps, during the wintertime. Whether it’s backcountry skiing or snowshoeing, whether it’s a day trip or a multi-day snow camping adventure, there’s a whole new level to the Lake Tahoe Rim Trail in winter.

Admittedly, there are some limitations. For one thing, unlike other seasons, you can’t make it all the way around the TRT in the winter. If for no other reason than because you run into some ski resorts and other areas that have their own winter-specific uses. Plus, the trail is covered with snow. Trail junctions, markers, and signs are all likely to be covered by snow, so it’s important that you either know the trail extremely well or you have a trail guide with you. Shorter, more well-cut paths may be safely traversed on your own. Like we said, big or small, the TRT in winter is worth doing.


Make Skiing Part of Your 165-Mile Club Membership

We contacted the official TRT Association. Their website says that you join the club by horse, foot, or bike, but we confirmed that skiing and snowshoeing “certainly count,” too. Better yet, you don’t have to do the entire 165-mile trail all at once or by the same modality. So, whether you live nearby or you make Lake Tahoe your annual vacation getaway, look to add some portion of the trail to your membership trek as a skiing or snowshoe adventure. People around these parts tend to be cool, but there’s still something to be said for the remote vibe that comes with taking to the TRT in winter.


Skiing in the High Sierras

Prefer the traditional ski resort experience with downhill skiing, terrain parks, and well-maintained pistes? There’s plenty of skiing in the High Sierras as well. So, we love you Colorado, but be careful about talking too big about your local clubs and Rocky Mountains. We’ve got game, too.