- 22 Resorts
- Consistent Snow
- Diverse destinations
- Resorts open before those of many other states
- Home to Vail, Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain
Season Start/End: 11/26 - 4/27
|6200ft - 9050ft|
|25%| 45%| 30%| 0%|
Built in the image of a European style mountain village and host of the Winter Olympic games in 1960, Squaw Valley's 3,600 acres of award winning terrain accommodates skiers and riders of all ages and abilities.
Located at the end of the Sierra Nevada on the west side of Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley averages 450 inches of snow annually across six mountain peaks including Snow King, Broken Arrow, KT-22, Emigrant, Squaw Peak, and Granite Chief.
The 2,800 feet of vertical are serviced by 29 lifts total and Squaw is home to the only Funitel, a 28-person gondola, in North America. From the mountaintop beginner area to the expert steeps, trees, and bowls, skiers and riders are sure to find the perfect challenge.
Squaw, California, Resort Overview Video //
Squaw can look intimidating to beginners due to the steep terrain right out of the village. The High Camp Cable Car, also called the Tram, rises up and over the Tram Face, virtually un-skiable terrain where Squaw holds an extreme competition yearly for the world’s elite. But don’t be fooled: there are fantastic beginner runs located at mid-mountain. Take a leap of faith and ride the tram to High Camp, where four lifts offer mellow groomed beginner and intermediate trails. The payoff is extraordinary lake views, as well as the feeling that you are high in the mountains and away from the run-of-the-mill lower-mountain slopes that most resorts provide for newbies.
High Camp is a mountaintop meadow tucked between high peaks where experts can get an adrenaline fix before meeting up with less skilled family members for lunch. High Camp has a swimming pool and skating rink as well as outdoor seating, providing an inspiring setting for all ability levels. For young children, the Papoose beginner’s area is on the far eastern side of the parking lot beside the tubing and snow play area. This is the learning ground for first-timers, completely un-intimidating and with free hot chocolate.
For intermediates, Squaw Creek lift offers un-crowded runs and beautiful lake views, with groomers that loop down to the Resort at Squaw Creek on far looker’s left of the resort. Squaw Creek offers classic American skiing, with trails cut through the trees—something you don’t get much of in the wide-open expanses of Squaw. Upper-mountain intermediate terrain is accessed by the Shirley Lake Express, a fast six pack lift perfect for doing laps. The Gold Coast six pack lift provides advanced intermediate runs. Round out the day with some laps on the Solitude lift, which drops down from High Camp into groomed and un-groomed intermediate runs, glades and tree islands.
For skiers who like to hike, Squaw has bountiful options. Granite Peak, accessed via Granite Chief, is the resort’s highest point at just over 9,000 feet so it loads well on powder days and offers lots of hidden stashes days after a storm. Hidden Bowl features steep wide open terrain and tree shots, making this area prime for exploration. The Palisades chutes are some of the most infamous “Squallywood” terrain, featured in countless ski films. If you go big here, lots of chairlift riders will be watching and cheering. Access Palisades via the Siberia Express, but be prepared to handle a cornice drop.
Lesser skilled skiers should stick to the easiest of the Palisades chutes, National Chute to looker’s left. Named for Olympian Jonny Mosely, Mosely’s Run is a severely steep bump run that Jonny credits with giving him the skills to handle the world’s toughest moguls competitions. Squaw will never win any awards for its tree skiing—there simply isn’t that much due to the mountain’s vast open expanses—but those who seek a forested environment should head to the Squaw Creek and Red Dog lifts, as well as the lower sections of Granite Chief.
Located in the base village a short walk from the lifts, Mountain Nectar offers fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies, as well as coffee, tea, bagels, wraps and tables for sitting down with children (530-584-6161). For a fast cup of coffee and a muffin before rushing to the hill, Starbucks is also located in the base village.
The Arc in the Gold Coast mid-mountain lodge is the place to gather without leaving the slopes. The menu features Kobe beef burgers, Asian bowls, soups and more. For those who don’t mind walking into the base village, Mamasake is a favorite lunch spot, featuring a Cal-Asian menu of sushi, sashimi, bento boxes and tapas, along with a variety of sakes.
High-end: PlumpJack Café is located a short walk from the lifts and village lodging. The menu changes seasonally, with a focus on local ingredients and novel wine pairings chosen by the sommelier. Daring foodies will go for the crispy veal sweetbreads, while meat lovers will enjoy the ribeye with bacon confit potatoes and haricots verts. Located in the Resort at Squaw Creek, Six Peaks Grille features biodynamic seafood and produce. Starters include the wine braised short ribs with black truffle cheese, and mains featuring a variety of heritage meats and a uniquely prepared Columbia River sturgeon.
Mid-range: 22 Bistro is located in the village near the KT-22 lift. Specializing in tapas and social plates, as well as reasonably priced salads and burgers, 22 has a children’s menu and a to-die-for dish of potato-bacon donut holes.
Low-key: Fireside Pizza in the base village serves up gourmet pizza and pasta and is ideal for budget-conscious families. Fireside is known for its sourdough crusts, and their signature pie is the pear and gorgonzola.
Aprés: With a large outdoor seating area, Le Chamois is the main gathering spot for beer drinkers and is one of northern California’s largest sellers of Budweiser. Regulars buy the $40 Buddy Pass, good for 20 pints of Bud. Duck inside to warm up and sit down in the Loft Bar, which is decorated with ski schwag from the 1970s and earlier eras. Just around the corner from Chamois, PlumpJack Bar located at PlumpJack Café has a daily happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. for those seeking a more formal setting. Wine lovers can experiment with the “mystery wine flight” with three half pours for $15.
Nightlife: Cornice Cantina is a great option for après on the sundeck or late-night drinks indoors. DJs spin dance music on Friday and Saturday nights, making the “Cantina” a favorite local hangout for off-duty patrollers and Squaw employees. It’s located in the middle of the East parking lot, a five-minute walk from the base village lodgings. In the heart of the village, the Auld Dubliner is modeled after a rural Irish pub and features live music on weekends as well as a large beer and whiskey selection.
The first lifts to open are usually the Red Dog and KT-22 lifts. “KT” is the most coveted, and people line up at 6:30 a.m. to be the first to reach The Fingers, which are amazing when covered in deep snow but sketchy once skied out. Nose to Fingers is considered one of the best gets on the mountain. Access Nose by skiing looker’s right of the KT-22 lift towers. The Fingers are a band of rocks about mid-way down the mountain.
To avoid the charge up KT-22, take the Red Dog lift instead. Its terrain is less skied but equally as challenging without the crowds. Poulson’s Gulley, to skiers right of the lift towers, and Heidi’s Rock are favorite steep and deep runs from Red Dog. Heidi’s Rock requires a short hike and is reached by disembarking toward Red Dog Ridge. If the snow falls all day, head back to KT, which provides so much expert terrain that it hardly matters where you go because there are so many premier lines.
The Funitel (don’t call it a gondola!) will typically open next. Ride it to High Camp and ski down to the Siberia Express lift, which whisks you to the ridgeline and the top of Siberia Bowl. On big snow days, the lifts typically open from looker’s left to right, with Granite Chief often last to open. Granite Chief is located on the far boundary to looker’s right, and it provides a bevy of unnamed runs and expert terrain where the crowds are often minimal, perfect for an afternoon expedition on a powder day.
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This week's ski weather forecast calls for heavy snow from coast to coast.... More