Resort at Squaw Creek, Squaw Valley, Calif.

“Two strides on skis and you’re on the lift,” said Marc Sapoznik, Marketing Manager for the Resort at Squaw Creek, which offers semi-exclusive access to the slopes via the Squaw Creek triple. There’s no parking at the boarding zone, so public use is light (a handful of locals arrange for drop-off here on powder days). Mostly, it’s just the guests staying in this resort’s 405 rooms and suites that take this 1,300-foot ride up to Snow King. 

The only catch? There’s no beginner terrain off the Squaw Creek lift, so never-evers still take the resort shuttle to the Squaw Valley base area (a five-minute ride). But for most skiers and riders, it’s a huge perk—especially when high winds accompany the powder dumps. “This lift is more sheltered, so it operates when other lifts are closed due to storms,” Sapoznik said. Plus, the tree stashes off the Lake View run (accessed via the Squaw Creek lift) are one of the ski hill’s secret gem.

At day’s end, Resort at Squaw Creek ski valets collect and store guests’ gear. An on-site ticket office heightens convenience (no need to commute to the base to buy passes or book lessons). In fact, Squaw Creek makes most base-area forays superfluous: With its own shopping promenade, four restaurants, a full-service spa and child-care programming, it’s a self-contained base area in its own right.