- Overall Rating 5
- Family Friendly 5
- All Mtn. Terrain 5
- Terrain Park 5
- Nightlife 3
Pros: virtually no lines, excellent snow, great variety across huge area
Cons: some slower lifts
Recommended For: Single/Newlyweds, Family Friendly, Empty Nesters
Date Visited: Dec 1, 2009
I grew up skiing in the North East: Sugarbush, Killington, Stowe, Loon, Sunday River, etc. I have been skiing in many different places, both in the US and abroad.
I must say that in my experience, Kirkwood rates among the best ski areas I've ever been to. It is an amazing place - 2000 vertical feet starting at about 8000'. Bowls, chutes, pistes, cliffs, wide groomed, ditches, parks, everything from a beginner area that is as large as some other ski areas to expedition skiing that requires a hike or snow cat to get to. It's really easy to find fresh tracks as the terrain is so widely varied. There are ridges all around; groomed trails of every type, and terrain to challenge any level skiier.
Since it's about 30 miles from South Tahoe, there aren't as many people as the crowded Lake Tahoe areas. Lines are rare - usually u can expect about 5 people in front of you, and a wait of less than 2 mins. Sometimes I worry that there aren't enough skiers to keep this place afloat because it's easy to find trails with nobody else on them. In fact, the rule of thumb is, if there is another person on the trail, wait a minute and it's all yours. I can't say enough about this place - discover it! It's not freezing cold like the northeast, and has amazing powder much of the time. Even bad ski days are good here. They have outdoor bbq on several spots on the mountain, great to munch, sip and soak in the astounding Sierra view, second to none.
If I had any criticism of Kirkwood, it's that you can't go to the top of the mountain as a beginner - they don't have one of those long, winding beginner trails from the very top. You have to be an advanced skiier to ski down from the top. However, it's a really big resort, so if you're a beginner/intermediate skiier, you can ski for hours without ever hitting the same trail twice. The other criticism is the cost of the lodging. It's pretty expensive to stay at Kirkwood, so if you can put up with a 40 min shuttle, stay in south Tahoe, or in the other direction at the Black Station Inn, for a fraction of the cost.
I really hope this place catches on more - it's a place to catch first tracks pretty much every day of the week, fantastic skiing on all types of terrain, no lines to speak of - a 5 star ski deal. Check it out!!!
PS no, I am in no way affiliated with Kirkwood. I've skied and enjoy other Tahoe resorts like Squaw, Heavenly, Mt. Rose, Northstar, Alpine, etc - Kirkwood remains my favorite of all of these.Enjoy!