The 10 Best Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts for Mid-Winter Break

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With mild daytime temps and feets-deep snow, now’s the time to venture up to Tahoe for a weekend of skiing, snowboarding or tubing down the mountain. But navigating where to go can be tricky. Is North Lake or South Lake more your vibe? Do you like all the action or do you prefer to avoid the crowds? Are you into adrenaline-pumping runs or gentle bunny slopes? That’s why we’ve rounded up 10 of the best Lake Tahoe ski resorts for a day (or weekend) in the snow, whether you’re a diehard downhill skier or just looking for a cozy après adventure.

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1. Sierra At Tahoe

  • Location: Twin Bridges, CA (South Lake)
  • Why We Recommend It: Adventure Zones for the little ones, sheltered from the wind, easy access right off Highway 50, good value for skiing families
  • Where to Stay: Twin Bridges Cabin, Cozy Strawberry Cabin, Hotel Azure

It may look and feel a little different, but the beloved Sierra at Tahoe is back open after sustaining damage from the Caldor fire. With award-winning terrain parks, one-of-a-kind runs through old-growth forests and 3 miles of snowshoe trails, it’s a good bet for skiers, snowboarders and snowshoers. Take the Grandview Express chair to the top of the mountain for an epic family photo overlooking the lake (perfect for this year’s holiday card) and then shred down Sierra’s top-to-bottom beginner run. Looking for more? Build a snowman, have a snowball fight or race down the tubing hill and then warm up with hot chocolate and s’mores around a fire pit at Blizzard Mountain.


2. Tahoe Donner

Whether you’re young or young at heart, this is the place to go for a friendly introduction to skiing or snowboarding, with staff that’s ready to give you their full attention. Beginners will appreciate gentle terrain and pristinely groomed trails, minus the (sometimes intimidating) crowds of larger resorts. Plus, there’s even a Cross-Country Ski Center with 62 miles of groomed trails (some of which are dog-friendly!). Reward your efforts with an après-ski toast on the sun deck while you warm up by the firepits.


3. Heavenly

With half the resort in California and the other half in Nevada, Heavenly is one of the largest and most popular in the Lake Tahoe area. Challenging technical slopes, tree runs and world-famous moguls, plus wide-open hills, tubing and ice skating means there’s something for everyone. There’s even a daycare (for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years) so you can hit the slopes without the kiddos. The gondola, which promises jaw-dropping lake views, sits at the center of the action-packed Village, which is also steps from all the Stateline casinos (if that’s your thing).


4. Northstar

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this season, Northstar is the kind of all-inclusive vacation destination that you’ll keep coming back to. With 3,000 acres and nearly 100 trails, the resort has groomed runs and multiple terrain parks for skiers, snowboarders, XC, Telemark skiing, snowshoeing and tubing. It’s no surprise that snowboarding legend Shaun White calls Northstar “home.” Try your hand at fat-tire mountain biking and don’t miss a gondola ride up to The Ritz-Carlton for a luxurious toast.


5. Homewood

As the closest ski resort to the lake, Homewood has a leg up on breathtaking views. With glade runs (tree skiing) through old-growth forests, hidden powder stashes and multiple terrain parks for practicing tricks, this resort is best for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. You can even hire a Snowcat to take you to backcountry terrain outside the resort’s ski boundaries. If you’re looking for a laidback vibe, aren’t in a rush (generally slow lifts) and want to avoid the crowds (and hefty prices) of larger resorts, Homewood is your spot.


6. Palisades Tahoe + Alpine Meadows

Being able to say you’re a Palisades Tahoe skier or rider is like a badge of honor. With a long legacy of ski racing and international competitions, Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Meadows are perhaps the pinnacles of Tahoe skiing. The resort hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics and it’s seen many Olympians (including Julia Mancuso and Jonny Moseley), but we love it for the mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain all in separate areas…plus the plentiful après ski activities.


7. Kirkwood

With the highest base elevation and annual snowfall, Kirkwood (now celebrating its 50th anniversary season) is known for its deep powder, steep slopes and challenging terrain. It’s ideal for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders looking for adrenaline-pumping cliffs, but you’ll also find some gentle slopes and open bowls. There’s a XC center nearby offering gorgeously groomed trails for classic XC and skate skiing, snowshoeing and fat-tire biking. Need more? Kirkwood also offers backcountry expeditions, Snowcat tours, a kids’ snowmobile park and tubing hill.


8. Royal Gorge

  • Location: Soda Springs, CA (North Lake)
  • Why We Recommend It: groomed trails for easy gliding, terrain for all skill levels (including 27 beginner trails), lessons and equipment rentals for first-timers and entry-level XC skiers
  • Where to Stay: The Hotel at Sugar Bowl, Calder Cabin, Clair Tappaan Lodge 

Stride through towering pines and wide-open meadows with magical views of Tahoe’s peaks at Royal Gorge. The country’s largest cross-country ski and snowshoe area, it offers 92 trails spread out over 6,000 acres of a winter wonderland. More than 87 miles of trail are groomed and tracked for easy gliding and 30 miles of trail are dedicated to snowshoeing. There are even dog-friendly options so your pup can join in on the fun. Did we mention the eight warming huts for when you need to take a breath and soak it all in? If you’re more of a downhill skier, don’t miss Sugar Bowl, Royal Gorge’s sister property and one of Tahoe’s oldest resorts with a history of hosting ski races and competitions.


9. Diamond Peak

It’ll take you a little longer to get there from the Bay Area, but Diamond Peak is a small, friendly resort worth the extra driving. With plenty of gentle slopes and wide runs for beginners, more challenging terrain for intermediate and advanced skiers and multiple terrain parks for practicing tricks, it checks all the right boxes. They even offer evening snowshoe hikes so non-skiers have a chance to enjoy the mountain. Families will appreciate this double whammy: It’s the only Tahoe resort that lets kids 6 years and under ski free. And it’s the only remaining resort with interchangeable parent lift tickets so parents can trade off taking care of the kids and each get a chance to ski. Did we mention the stunning lake views from every turn?


10. Adventure Mountain

  • Location: South Lake Tahoe, CA (South Lake)
  • Why We Recommend It: super affordable, fun for the whole family, no equipment needed (the resort provides special tubes and helmets)
  • Where to Stay: Modern Chalet, Dancing Bear Cabin, Three Trees Cabin

Located at the top of Echo Summit with a base elevation of 7,400 feet, Adventure Mountain is the highest tubing destination with the most tubing-exclusive terrain in the entire Tahoe Basin. With groomed runs for every level and mini runs for your littlest ones, it’s a great option for non-skiing families where the adults will definitely want in on the action. You’ll get a workout on the dedicated uphill walking lanes along the 18 runs, including a high-speed 500-footer called The Snake. When you finally need a break, warm up with a mug of hot chocolate or a family pizza bundle at the Mountainside Cafe.

allison mccarthy

San Francisco Editor

Allison McCarthy is a writer and editor with 15 years of experience in the industry. She's currently the San Francisco editor at PureWow, where she covers the best of what's...