Kirkwood Mountain Resort is a year-round mountain destination located along the Sierra Crest in the Eldorado National Forest south of Lake Tahoe in California. The terrain at Kirkwood offers skiers and riders everything from long groomed trails to expert lines and chutes. The resort receives abundant snowfall each season coupled with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
The village contains ski-in, ski-out accommodations with adjacent shops and restaurants. The resort also plays host to other activities, including cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sled tours and backcountry access.
Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort is located about one and a half hours from Reno and two hours from Sacramento. If you’re driving, avoid the Mormon Emigrant Trail, Shake Ridge Road and Fiddletown Road. The Mormon Emigrant Trail is closed during the winter, and the other two are narrow, windy and steep.
The two closest airports are Reno/Tahoe International Airport and Sacramento International Airport. You can rent a car from the airport. There are also luxury shuttle buses from major areas like San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Oakland and more that run most weekends and some weekdays.
The Kirkwood terrain is famous for its expert and advanced areas that encompass a two-mile horseshoe-shaped ridgeline. The Cirque offers steep double blacks, cliffs, chutes, glades and cornices with colossal amounts of natural snowfall.
Rugged and intimate due to its location, skiers and riders will enjoy an average annual snowfall of over 350 inches spread across 2,300 skiable acres with 86 trails. Considered an advanced mountain, Kirkwood’s terrain is rated 12% beginner, 30% intermediate, 38% advanced and 20% expert. The longest trail is 2.5 miles, and trails are served by 15 lifts.
Base elevation is 7,800 feet, and the summit is 9,800 feet with 2,000 feet of vertical drop. The resort is composed of three peaks: Covered Wagon, which provides access to the backcountry and is accessible via Chair 4; Thimble Peak, which is Kirkwood’s tallest peak and provides steep pitches and expert terrain; and The Sisters, which has a stretch of chutes and cliff drops.
Snowmaking is available on a limited number of acres.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort offers Expedition: Kirkwood, which is for the avid adventurer looking to explore Kirkwood on a more intimate level. The unique terrain at Kirkwood offers lift access to backcountry opportunities within the resort boundaries and provides the perfect backdrop for specialty clinics, private guides and backcountry awareness offerings. Expedition: Kirkwood offerings include avalanche certification courses, women’s programs, private guides and specialty ski clinics.
Be sure to get to the mountain early since parking is first come, first served, and it packs up early.
Kirkwood is also a hiking and mountain biking destination during the summer. You can rent a bike on the mountain.