Squaw Valley Tram — Photo courtesy of Nathan Kendall
Californians are blessed with so many winter holiday options, including spectacular Lake Tahoe, both North and South Shores.This stunning body of blue—the largest alpine lake in North America—surrounded by Sierra Nevada peaks, is a mecca for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, lovers of great food and mind-boggling scenic beauty. For families on the go and snow bunny beginners, Lake Tahoe is waiting.
Downhill skiing or snowboarding may not be your obsession; thankfully, sledding, tubing, ice-skating, dog sledding, helicopter tours, sleighing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are also offered throughout the region; or, simply kick back with a cup of hot chocolate—virgin or spiked—and breathe in the view.
Visitors soar to new heights and experience breathtaking vistas aboard Lake Tahoe trams, where they enjoy wintertime pleasures beneath snowcapped mountains.
The Squaw Valley Aerial Tram offers extraordinary views of Lake Tahoe, as it carries riders 2,000 vertical feet to High Camp. A year-round facility, visitors will enjoy skiing or relaxing at one of the fabulous restaurants or lounges. You’ll also find the Olympic Heritage Museum and memorabilia from the 1960 Winter Olympics; admission is free with your aerial tram ride. Ice-skating at the Olympic Ice Pavilion boasts mind-blowing views of the lake as well.
North or South Shore, there’s plenty of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing locales, including Hope Valley Outdoors, Tahoe Cross Country and Royal Gorge. Rental companies can guide you to locations that aren’t organized. After activity ceases and since hunger seems to grow at higher elevations, there’s no shortage of provisions on either shore. Locals suggest Red Hut—a family-style favorite for more than 50 years with multiple locations—for marvelous breakfast and lunch fare. The Ski Run Boulevard location serves dinner with an ice cream fountain and soda jerks year-round. Ask about the breakfast “usual”! Himmel Haus, near the California Base Lodge, serves up German dinner delights .
- January is official Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month and many resorts will offer discount lessons, rentals and lift tickets for first-time skiers and snowboarders.
- Looking to ring in the New Year with music and mountains? Then check out the three-day SnowGlobe Music Festival, held from December 29-31 on the Lake Tahoe Community College campus. For the lineup, to purchase tickets and for more details, visit snowglobemusicfestival.com.
- Come prepared for mountain travel: Carry chains if you’re not 4-wheel drive, and bring appropriate clothing, water and snacks…just in case.
- Traveling off-road for snow play? Let someone know where you’re headed. Stay hydrated and apply sunblock.
- A drive around the lake is special any season, but keep in mind that Highway 89, at Emerald Bay, is sometimes closed for avalanche control.