Lake Tahoe resorts, by virtue of ample snow and high elevation, run long seasons for skiers and snowboarders. It's the kind of place where you can ski the slopes in the morning and hit the links or the lake in the afternoon sun. It's also the kind of place where the beach scene moves to the slopes in spring.
The resorts rimming Lake Tahoe gain long seasons due 300-500 inches of snowfall per year plus elevations that climb to 8,000- to 10,000-foot summits. Storms roll in and out fast, making the resorts benefit from 274 days of bluebird skies each year. The lake never freezes due its depth-which makes Tahoe popular for boating after skiing. It's one place where you can ride the snow in the morning and go wakeboarding in the afternoon. Spring golfers descending on Reno or Tahoe can easily combine ski and golf getaways.
Most of the Tahoe resorts turn their lifts through April 11 this spring. However, several resorts run their lifts longer to take advantage of the snow and sun. Northstar-at-Tahoe, Heavenly has extended its season through April 25, and Mt. Rose keep the lifts cranking through April 18. Sierra-at-Tahoe typically runs until the second or third week in April.
Four Tahoe resorts have the distinction of pushing the spring envelope longer, conditions permitting. Kirkwood and Sugar Bowl keep their lifts turning until late in the month, celebrating the last day of the season on April 25. Sugar Bowl plans to assess slope status at that time and may opt to extend the season. Alpine Meadows, which operates daily through April 18, aims to open for weekends through May 16.
Squaw Valley remains open this year through May 9. The resort, however, does not continue to run all 33 lifts every day. When conditions require, operations drop to the Cable Car plus the big five lifts: Bailey's Beach, Links, Shirley, Granite Chief, and either Gold Coast or Mainline.
The resorts vie for spring skiers and riders with special rates on lift tickets; some reduce tickets rates in spring while others rotate discounts. Season passes for the spring season often break even in a few days; they are available at Squaw, Kirkwood, and Alpine Meadows. Several resorts allow those purchasing next year's season passes to ski or ride for free through the end of this season.
The number of sunny days increases at Tahoe through spring, prompting the beach scene to collide with snow slopes. Out come the lounge chairs, T-shirts, and bikinis. Almost every lodge deck sports tanning skiers and riders toting spring drink specials.
Kirkwood kicks off spring with a big Spring Break Party--Jammin' XVII-April 2-4. A lifeguard tower and giant pond turn the Plaza into a slopeside beach.
Squaw's unique spring culture-a high altitude beach scene-is created by the High Camp Lagoon and Spa. The mountaintop outdoor pool and hot tub, which open March 20 for the season, give skiers and riders a way to partake of the snow and swimming at 8,200 feet in elevation. The deck also provides a sunny lounging place for cocktails with a sweeping view down to Lake Tahoe in the distance.
Spring ski and stay deals are available at many of the resorts as well as casinos in South Lake Tahoe and Reno. Those looking to hit multiple North Lake Tahoe resorts can rent skis, snowboards, or clothing from one of four Tahoe Dave's locations in Truckee, Tahoe City, Squaw Valley, or Kings Beach. The gear can be returned or swapped out at any of the four shops, and discount coupons are available online.