- Overall Rating 5
- Family Friendly 5
- All-Mtn. Terrain 3
- Terrain Park 5
- Nightlife 3
Pros: Great place to check out. Best parks in Tahoe
Cons: Lack of vertical rise
Recommended For: Singles, Family Friendly, Empty Nesters
Date Visited: Feb 1, 2013
The relatively small Boreal Mountain Resort lies just outside of Truckee, CA on the scenic and historic Donner Summit. Located directly off of Interstate 80, Boreal is one of the most popular resorts in the North Lake Tahoe area despite its small size in comparison to North Lake super resorts like Squaw Valley and Northstar at Tahoe. Boasting only 500 vertical feet and 480 acres, compared to Squaw’s 3600 acres and 3,000 vertical feet, Boreal still rakes in the visitors. This is due to their pristine, creative, and world renowned terrain parks, cheap lift tickets; great learn to ride packages, friendly staff, expansive night terrain, and a family friendly environment.
Upon my arrival at Boreal I am always greeted by a giant parking lot, which is empty more times than not, located conveniently adjacent to the lifts. It is only a short walk from your car to the lifts, which differs from other larger resorts where at times you are forced to take lengthy shuttle rides from your car to the lifts. Although I am a season pass holder, at the ticket window you will see an array of ticket, rental, and lesson options that are easy on your pocket. With an adult all-day lift ticket only setting you back fifty-two dollars, nearly half the price as other larger resorts. After purchasing your ticket, or one of their affordable season passes, you walk through the only ticket check at the base of the mountain. Once passing this gate you never have to present your pass again, no shuffling for your pass after every run, another convenient aspect of Boreal.
Being vertically challenged, and lacking any continuous steep slopes, Boreal capitalizes on their cons. Every year they produce a high quality terrain park that rivals not only other terrain parks in the Lake Tahoe area, but those around the world. Being one of the first resorts in the world to permit snowboarders and provide a terrain park back in the late 1980’s, they continue their legacy of terrain park perfection. With an Olympic sized twenty-two foot half pipe, multiple jump lines of all shapes and sizes, and a never ending assortment of rails, boxes, tubes, and other creative jib features, Boreal is a park rat’s paradise.
The true selling points of this resort for the weekend warrior or first timer are its convenience and deals. Without question Boreal hosts the cheapest learn to ski and ride program in Tahoe. Their 1-2-3 Ski free program lets first timers take 3 group lessons with an instructor, than after their third lesson they are awarded with a season pass valid anytime. This program not only gives beginners the perfect platform to begin their endeavor in winter sports, but also gives them a season pass for under 150 dollars. Fridays also serve up fifteen dollar lift tickets for college students and active military. Another affordable aspect of Boreal is their 99 dollar college student season passes, and anytime season passes for under 300 dollars. Being located directly off of I-80, and only 90 miles from the greater Sacramento area, Boreal is all about convenience.
Although Boreal is a smaller resort that sees many visitors, it never feels congested or overly crowded. It is easy head over to one of the secluded, empty chairs such as Lost Dutchman or Cedar Ridge when the high speed, all-mountain access Accelerator chair is packed. Dutchman always has a fast, top to bottom boarder cross as well as a fun sized, and large sized terrain park. Cedar Ridge offers some pillow lines, cliffs, side hits, log rides, and tranny finds for a natural terrain park vibe. For fans of steeper terrain 49er serves Boreal’s steepest terrain as well as more natural features. For the beginners, the Castle Peak Quad serves the mountain’s smallest progression park and the Nugget double chair accesses the gentlest slopes on the hill.
People don’t come to Boreal for a giant retail village or five start slope side lodging, but Boreal does have the affordable Boreal Inn, located within walking distance from the lifts. The cafeteria also fits Boreal’s theme of affordability, with relatively cheap entrées for a ski resort and large portions. Also free drinking fountains and water jugs are easily locatable.
The newest addition to Boreal is the action sports camp and training center, Woodward at Tahoe. Woodward has been providing the action sports world with top notch summer camps, coaches, and training facilities since their first camp opened in Pennsylvania in the 1980’s. The Woodward ‘Bunker’ at Boreal has an array of foam pits, trampolines, skate parks, and other training devices to help athletes better their skills on the mountain. During the summer Boreal utilizes all of their facilities and pushes all the snow into one area building a top notch terrain park for the campers to progress on. With many professional athletes coming through the camp year round, Boreal has solidified its self as a true free skiing and snowboarding destination for the freestyle savvy.
Whether you are a first timer or a professional, Boreal is a must visit if you are in the Tahoe area. With its family friendly atmosphere, friendly staff, skate park like feel, and most of all its affordability Boreal is truly an amazing place. I always leave this resort with a smile on my face, and I am sure you will leave happily as well.