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The 5 W’s and FAQ of Cross-Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe

The 5 W’s and FAQ of Cross-Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe

The 5 W’s and FAQ of Cross-Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe

The 5 W’s and FAQ of Cross-Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe

There are a ton of health benefits to taking up cross country skiing, especially doing it as often as you can in a beautiful natural environment like Lake Tahoe. However, if you’ve never done it before or you’re not familiar with the Sierra Nevada terrain, then it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why this Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide covers the five W’s and frequently asked questions about where to go, what to wear, when to ski, why get into the sport, and more…
Kid Cross Country Skiing

Who Can (or Should) Cross Country Ski?

Cross-country skiing is a great low impact sport that anyone in decent physical shape can pretty much do, and participating in it often will improve one’s balance, strength, and endurance. Therefore, if you don’t mind working up a sweat while being outside in the cold, then this is a nice natural social distancing activity that also makes you feel like you did something productive that day.

Many cross-country skiers also like to bring their furry four-legged friends with them. Not all cross-country centers allow them, but places like Northstar California, Kirkwood, and Tahoe XC welcome pooches on the trails for an additional fee (See the Lake Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide for links and more information). Public places like Bijou, Rabe Meadow, or the Nevada Nordic trails are also open to pets, and accessing those kinds of trails is free of charge (or maybe the price of a parking fee).

When going into any kind of backcountry, it’s always a good idea to bring a friend or at least let someone know where you’re going and how long you expect to be gone. Make sure that your cell phone is charged up and review information on the Tahoe Backcountry including weather and avalanche report links.  If you plan on climbing up in elevation to a peak or a vista point on untouched or ungroomed snow, it also helps to bring a shovel, beacon, and/or probe (but those only help if there’s a buddy with you who has the same kind of gear). Level ground for beginners near the ski center or close to town is generally safe (if you’re at a legitimate cross country ski center or a place like Rabe Meadow) from avalanche danger, but it’s still good to be prepared and take all necessary precautions.

What Do You Wear Cross Country Skiing?

While participating in any outdoor sport in Lake Tahoe whether it’s in the summer or winter, I’m a big fan of layering up with dry wick clothing. You want to wear clothes that are comfortable, secure, and efficiently absorb sweat, all the way down to your underwear. Start out with a conforming warm underlayer like leggings and a lightweight long-sleeve top covered up by a fleece sweatshirt and weatherproof snow pants. On a warmish sunny 42-degree day you might be good with simply that but on a blizzard, consider wearing a thick fleece-lined snow jacket and warmer socks (hand warmers and foot warmers can make you feel cozier, too). Regardless of what kind of weather you’re cross-country skiing in, don’t forget a beanie, gloves, and goggles (or sunglasses)- those are an absolute necessity to help prevent snow blindness.

When is the Best Time to Cross Country Ski?

While participating in any outdoor sport in Lake Tahoe whether it’s in the summer or winter, I’m a big fan of layering up with dry wick clothing. You want to wear clothes that are comfortable, secure, and efficiently absorb sweat, all the way down to your underwear. Start out with a conforming warm underlayer like leggings and a lightweight long-sleeve top covered up by a fleece sweatshirt and weatherproof snow pants. On a warmish sunny 42-degree day you might be good with simply that but on a blizzard, consider wearing a thick fleece-lined snow jacket and warmer socks (hand warmers and foot warmers can make you feel cozier, too). Regardless of what kind of weather you’re cross-country skiing in, don’t forget a beanie, gloves, and goggles (or sunglasses)- those are an absolute necessity to help prevent snow blindness.

Cross Country Ski image Red dots
Ski equipment images

When is the Best Time to Cross Country Ski?

In the 14 years I’ve lived in Lake Tahoe, every winter season is different as to when Mother Nature decides to bring us snow. However, generally most cross-country ski centers are open by Christmas and keep their trails groomed (or available) through April-ish. OpenSnow, NOAA, and The Weather Channel are some sources to go for weather information or visit a cross country ski center’s website from our Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide to see when their season starts and/or ends.

Northstar California | Truckee, CA

Address: 100 Northstar Dr., Truckee, CA 96161
Website: https://www.northstarcalifornia.com/
Hours of operation: 9am-4pm daily
Cost: $55/adults, $42/children 5-12, free/kids 4 & under
Activities allowed: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking, telemarking
Number of acres: 35 kilometers of trails
Number of trails: At least 23

Summary: Northstar California is known for its alpine skiing, shopping, dining, and ice-skating rink, but few people know that it has 35 kilometers of trails that are ideal for cross country skiing, fat tire biking, and more for all ages and abilities. This is also the perfect place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle in and around the Village, and these types of activities are easy enough to do with the whole family. Northstar is also one of the only places in North Lake Tahoe that allows fat tire biking and provides free access to Epic season passholders.

Where Do You Go in Lake Tahoe to Cross Country Ski?

Since Lake Tahoeians are all about being outdoors and getting exercise, there are plenty of legitimate cross-country ski centers and open parks/beaches/flat ground to just go and slide around on. If you’re just getting into the sport, consider going to Tahoe XC, Northstar California, or Kirkwood where they provide ski lessons and rentals.

Why Cross-Country Ski?

This W in cross-country skiing kind of goes without saying…you should cross country ski because it’s FUN! It’s also a great way to stay fit, active, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the forested Lake Tahoe environment.

How Do You Cross Country Ski?

Like in any ski or board sport, if you know how to shift your weight properly, maintain balance, and move your body with coordinated arms and leg effort, then you already have the fundamentals in place to cross country ski as that is basically all it takes to stride on flat ground. There are several tutorials on the web about how to do this and a few Lake Tahoe cross-country centers also offer clinics, lessons, and rentals for those who want to get into the sport properly. Like in alpine skiing, trail difficulty is graded and marked by green circles (novice), blue squares (intermediate), and black diamonds (advanced/expert). Therefore, if you are just starting out, look for the green trails.

Why Now is a Good Time to Go Cross Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe?

Cross country skiing in Lake Tahoe is the perfect social distancing sport that improves your health. Like hiking in the summer, you can breathe in the fresh air, take in the surrounding beauty, and do something fun with your pup if you have one. There’s snow on the ground and cross-country ski centers are open, so now is the best time to hit the trails!

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NOAA Weather

Truckee-Tahoe, CA

Last Updated on Jan 19 2021, 12:35 am PST

Current Conditions: Overcast

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Temp: 28°F

Wind: NE at 13mph

Humidity: 55%

Windchill: 17°F

Your 5-Day Forecast at a Glance

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Lake Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide

Lake Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide

Lake Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide

Lake Tahoe Cross Country Ski Guide

A Quick Guide About Lake Tahoe’s Best Cross Country Ski Centers

At a time when mask wearing and social distancing is key to staying healthy and safe, access to the great outdoors has never been so important. Activities that provide space and exercise- like golf, tennis, and snow skiing- have now been more popular than ever during the pandemic. However, to comply with local and state everchanging “stay-at-home” orders, most alpine ski resorts have limited their capacity to 25 percent, closed their indoor dining establishments, and now require skiers and riders to wear facemasks in lift lines, parking lots, and wherever six feet of social distancing from strangers is not possible.

Fortunately, Nordic ski centers don’t see the kinds of crowds that traditional ski resorts do, making them even more attractive in a time like this. Although most cross-country centers still ask that you stay home if you’re sick, wear your facemask over your nose and mouth while on property, and book your daily tickets/lessons/rentals in advance, it’s still better than sitting on the couch engrossed in another Netflix binge. Lake Tahoe cross-country centers are doing their best to stay open while providing incredible Tahoe cross-country skiing experiences meant to take your mind away from what’s going on in the rest of the world, and appeal to people of all ages and abilities.

Here are some basic stats about Lake Tahoe’s most legit snowshoe and cross-country centers, however, keep in mind that it’s best to check each resort’s website for updated COVID-19 protocols and information:

Tahoe XC getting started

Tahoe XC | Tahoe Cross Country | Tahoe City

Address: 925 Country Club Drive, Tahoe City, CA 96145
Website: https://www.tahoexc.org/
Hours of operation: 8:30am-5pm daily
Cost: $36/adults ages 19-69, free/seniors 70-plus and youth ages 18 & younger, $7/dogs
Activities allowed: Snowshoeing, Nordic skiing
Number of acres: 50 kilometers of groomed track
Number of trails: 8 beginner runs, 8 intermediate runs, 12 expert runs

Summary: Comprised of 21 ski trails and a snowshoe trail, this human-powered ski resort winds through trees and meadows up behind Carnelian Bay and Dollar Hill, its highest point rewarding skiers and snowshoers with incredible views of Lake Tahoe. Tahoe XC offers a variety of trails for all skill levels along with three warming huts that serve hot cocoa and tea. There are also nine kilometers of dog-friendly trails, allowed in certain areas on certain times. To read up on Dog Trail Rules, click here.

Tahoe XC also rents out classic Nordic ski packages, skate ski packages, and snowshoes; one-hour long private lessons are also available. Unfortunately, fat bikes are not allowed since it ruins the quality of the groomed trails, but mountain bikes are welcome in the summer months.

Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center | Truckee

Address: 15275 Alder Creek Rd., Truckee, CA 96161
Website: https://www.tahoedonner.com/amenities/amenities/cross-country/
Hours of operation: 8:30am-5pm daily
Cost: $41-$51/adults, $15/ages 12 & under, $31-$41 ages 13-17 and 60-plus
Activities allowed: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing
Number of acres: 2800+
Number of trails: 79

Summary: Voted the sixth best cross-country ski area in North America by USA Today, Tahoe Donner has more than 100 kilometers of ski trails that wind through the nicest untouched areas this side of Truckee, taking skiers on a climb up to the crest of the Sierra Nevada range. Covid-19 has changed operations for the 2020/21 ski season, but Alder Creek Café & Trailside Bar at the base of the ski area is still open from 9am-4pm with grab-n-go options. Unfortunately, doggy day passes are unavailable (as of January 2021) and season passes for pups are sold out. However, Tahoe Donner still offers private lessons and ski rental gear if you purchase it online in advance. Keep in mind that fat biking or hiking is not permitted on these trails.

Royal Gorge Cross-Country Resort | Soda Springs, CA

Address: 9411 Pahatsi Rd., Soda Springs, CA 95728
Website: http://www.royalgorge.com
Hours of operation: 8:30am-4pm daily
Cost: $39-$43/adults, $20/ages 13-22, $34-$39/ages 65-74, $10/ages 12 & younger & 75-plus, $5/dog pass
Activities allowed: skate skiing, XC skiing, snowshoeing, dog trails
Number of acres: 6000
Number of trails: 137

Summary: Considered one of the largest cross-country ski areas in the U.S. (if not THE largest), Royal Gorge offers winter aficionados more than 140 kilometers of groomed, tracked ski trails with eight different warming huts scattered throughout the property that provide some respite from potentially harsh winter elements. Located right off I-80 close to Sugar Bowl, Royal Gorge provides skiers with pristine backcountry conditions with the opportunity to stride through snowy meadows or trek up to a few of the most stunning vistas. What’s also great about Royal Gorge is that pups are totally welcome, and the resort offers lessons, clinics, and rentals. See what conditions are like or click around Royal Gorge’s interactive map here.

Squaw Creek Cross Country Center Lake Tahoe

Resort at Squaw Creek Nordic Center | Olympic Valley, CA

Address: 400 Squaw Creek Rd., Olympic Valley, CA 96146
Website: www.destinationhotels.com/squawcreek
Hours of operation: 9am-5pm daily
Cost: Call 530-412-7034 for details
Activities allowed: Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing
Number of acres: 18 kilometers of groomed track
Number of trails: 11

Summary: Not only does the Resort at Squaw Creek have its own ski lift that accesses the rest of Squaw Valley, but Squaw Creek also provides its guests with their own heated swimming pools, ice skating rink, and more. In the wintertime, the Resort at Squaw Creek transforms its golf course into a Nordic ski/snowshoe wonderland touting “kilometers of groomed trails for beginners or expert Nordic skiers”. However, since the Resort at Squaw Creek has been closed for a while due to Covid-19, it’s best to call before you go over there to see if its hours of operation have changed.

Northstar California | Truckee, CA

Address: 100 Northstar Dr., Truckee, CA 96161
Website: https://www.northstarcalifornia.com/
Hours of operation: 9am-4pm daily
Cost: $55/adults, $42/children 5-12, free/kids 4 & under
Activities allowed: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking, telemarking
Number of acres: 35 kilometers of trails
Number of trails: At least 23

Summary: Northstar California is known for its alpine skiing, shopping, dining, and ice-skating rink, but few people know that it has 35 kilometers of trails that are ideal for cross country skiing, fat tire biking, and more for all ages and abilities. This is also the perfect place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle in and around the Village, and these types of activities are easy enough to do with the whole family. Northstar is also one of the only places in North Lake Tahoe that allows fat tire biking and provides free access to Epic season passholders.

Nevada Nordic Old Mount Rose | Reno, NV

Address: 5 Miles East of the Incline Village Hwy 431/Hwy 28 Roundabout on Hwy 431, Reno, NV
Website: https://nevadanordic.org/
Facebook Link (latest grooming information)
Hours of operation: Anytime
Cost: Free, but feel free to donate to keep trails groomed at nevadanordic.org
Activities allowed: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking, telemarking
Number of acres: unknown
Number of trails: 1 trail with 2 loops in the Tahoe Meadows/1 trail at Spooner Lake

Summary: Back in 2015, a group of passionate Incline Village residents got together and started working with Nevada State Parks to establish some Nordic trails in the Spooner backcountry. Formerly known as Incline Meadows XC, the group is relying on community support to keep its trails groomed and work towards its long-term vision of expanding and offering accessible winter recreation to everyone. The group currently grooms a trail that runs parallel to the Mt. Rose Highway and another at Spooner Lake.

Kirkwood Cross Country & Snowshoe Center | Kirkwood, CA

Address: 1501 Kirkwood Meadows Dr., Kirkwood, CA 95646
Website: https://www.kirkwood.com/explore-the-resort/activities-and-events/cross-country.aspx
Hours of operation: 9am-4pm
Cost: $70/adults, $48/juniors, $36/child includes introductory lesson or snowshoe tour
Activities allowed: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking
Number of acres: 60 kilometers of trails
Number of trails: Three interconnected trail systems called Meadow, Caples Creek, and Schneider.

Summary: In the peaceful, quiet, and snowy Alpine Valley about a fourth of a mile east of Kirkwood Mountain Resort, there are three interconnected trail systems to cross country ski, skate, or snowshoe in and around the Cross Country & Snowshoe Center. The Meadow System is more than two miles long while Caples Creek runs along beaver ponds where skiers can spot birds and small critters. Schneider is the most intense…climbing up to 9,000 feet where one can then view the Sierra Crest, Desolation Wilderness, and other incredible landscapes. Dogs are welcome (day passes are $25 per pup) and lessons/ski tours are available. Call 209-258-7248 for more information.

Other Places to Cross Country Ski near South Lake Tahoe

Outside of the main strip of casinos in South Lake Tahoe, there are a few other public parks, beaches, meadows, and more that aren’t necessarily official XC ski centers, but people like to ski around on when the area is covered in snow. On the southwest side of the lake near Emerald Bay and off Highway 89, cross country skiers can be seen sliding around Camp Richardson (although fees are required to access the groomed trails), the Tallac Historic Site, and Fallen Leaf Lake Campground. Stay on Highway 89 past the Y and find a couple of skiable loops at Washoe Meadows State Park. Or veer onto Highway 50 heading towards the casinos and stop off at Bijou Park or Lake Tahoe Community College to get some turns in. On the southeast side of Lake Tahoe right after crossing over Stateline, Rabe Meadow is a nice flat beginner/intermediate loop that takes you to the water’s edge.

Frequently Asked Questions | Cross Country Ski Tips

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NOAA Weather

Truckee-Tahoe, CA

Last Updated on Jan 19 2021, 12:35 am PST

Current Conditions: Overcast

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Temp: 28°F

Wind: NE at 13mph

Humidity: 55%

Windchill: 17°F

Your 5-Day Forecast at a Glance

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Ten Things to Do in Tahoe When You’re Stuck Indoors

Ten Things to Do in Tahoe When You’re Stuck Indoors

Ten Things to Do in Tahoe When You’re Stuck Indoors

Ten Things to Do in Tahoe When You’re Stuck Indoors

A lot of people are staying at home these days to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, and a few snowstorms have come through Tahoe the last couple of weeks leaving the roads icy and cold. Therefore, with stay-at-home orders in effect and the chance for snow coming through Tahoe on Christmas, it’s probably a good idea to just hunker down for a while. No matter whether you’re stuck indoors here or there, these are some indoor (or close-by) Tahoe activities to help pass the time in the winter months, during the pandemic:

1. Put Together a Jigsaw Puzzle

There are all sorts of benefits to sitting down and doing jigsaw puzzles by yourself or with your family; most notably concentrating on a jigsaw puzzle helps improve your short-term memory. It’s also pretty rewarding when you finish it and see how all your hard work came together to create a beautiful picture. Fortunately, there are plenty of places around the lake that sell jigsaw puzzles, such as: The Potlatch and the Village Christian Thrift Shop in Incline Village; The Tree House in Truckee; and Toy Maniacs, Tahoe Toys and Treasures, and Village Toys in South Lake Tahoe.

2. Bake Something

Now that the holidays are here, local grocery stores Safeway and Raley’s are restocked with flour, sugar, and chocolate chips. Therefore, this is the perfect reason to stock up on ingredients and create something edible and functional in the kitchen. Visit the Cooking Gallery in Truckee or buy kids cupcake sets and baking kits at The Potlatch or The Tree House. I’m sure Santa will love whatever you come up with.

3. Knit or Crochet a Scarf (or a blanket, or a beanie, or socks or fingerless mittens)

A couple of years ago, local craft stores got together and hosted the Sierra Nevada Yarn Crawl where knitters all over the country came to Tahoe to stock up on supplies, learn new patterns, and connect with local artisans in a beautiful setting. Atelier in Truckee and Wildwood Makers Market in South Lake Tahoe host classes, sell yarn, and knitting kits so that you can make your own clothing or help others stay warm and cozy. Knitting is also supposed to help prevent arthritis.

4. Brush Up on Your Blackjack and Poker Skills

Lake Tahoe is known for its abundance of gambling options and fortunately many local casinos sell their old decks of playing cards in their gift shops (check Montbleu Resort, the Hard Rock, Harvey’s or the Tahoe Biltmore and the Crystal Bay Club on the North Shore) and maybe even old Craps table dice. Procure a deck from a place in town and use it to brush up on your poker or blackjack skills or visit one of Tahoe’s gift shops for more family-oriented games like Uno or Go Fish.

Homewood Take Home Smores Kit
Warm Up indoors with West Shore Cafe Cocktails to go

5. Read a Book

Lake Tahoe tends to draw creative minds and award-winning authors, and during a snowstorm it can be nice to curl up next to the fire and get lost in a Tahoe-based mystery thriller by Todd Borg or another bestseller. Find books at local thrift stores or visit the libraries in Incline Village, Kings Beach, or South Lake Tahoe. Get your digital library card through the Washoe County Library System website and instantly be able to check out eBooks and get access to online sources.

6. Host a Virtual Party with Your 21 and Older Friends

Buy a bottle of wine from Glasses Wine Bar in Incline Village or The Pour House in Truckee, make sure that your friends have one too, and host an online happy hour! It’s a great way to connect and be with those you like to be around while practicing proper social distancing. The West Shore Café across from Homewood Mountain Resort also makes delicious fancy cocktails to go. There are a lot of DJs who are also hosting weekend sets through Instagram or Facebook Live, so you can get some psychedelic treats from a recreational marijuana dispensary and tune in.

7. Foster a Dog and Take it For a Walk in the Neighborhood

What’s great about having pets is that they give you unconditional love and support and they can help you stay active and healthy by taking you on walks. Now that a lot of people are working remotely at a time when many animal shelters are closed, it creates the perfect opportunity to take in a furry being when they need you the most. That’s why the Pet Network in Incline Village is waiving adoption fees through the month of December and giving one full year of pet insurance. The Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe also has animals that need good, stable homes.

8. Do Some Yoga

In the beginning of the pandemic, many yoga studios moved their classes online which gave aspiring yogis more accessibility to classes and studios of their choice, practicing with their favorite instructors in the comfort of their own homes. Some local studios that offer online classes include Tahoe Flow Arts & Fitness, The Sanctuary, and Mountain Lotus Yoga on the North Shore, as well as Yoga Om on the South Shore. When reconstructing your home space into a yoga room, consider stopping by Well Being in Kings Beach to load up on candles, healing crystals, and massage oils.

9. Make a Snow Angel

There’s nothing like finding a fresh patch of snow somewhere and throwing your body into it and flinging yourself around. It’s probably not the best thing to do during a blizzard but getting outside and enjoying the calm after the storm can be heavenly. Building a nice snowman is also bound to make anyone who stumbles upon it smile.

10. Take a Bath

After shoveling snow or digging out your house for a few hours after the storm, it’s likely that you’ll have some sore muscles. Taking a bath with some nice Epsom salts or locally made bath bombs can give your body the relaxation and rejuvenation it needs. My favorite bath buddies are the Tahoe Blue bath bombs from Lather & Fizz Boutique (they have shops in Tahoe City’s Cobblestone Center and the Village at Squaw Valley) or putting an After Workout Shower Vapour puck in over the drain to indulge in the rich soothing scent.

Relax, Recharge, and Indulge

The current coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our previous routines and everyday lives, but fortunately it’s also forced us to slow down, be grateful for what we do have, and help each other out to get through these uncertain times. A few Tahoe businesses have gotten pretty creative in their offerings, too, like Homewood Mountain Resort selling s’mores kits with Lake Tahoe-shaped graham crackers and Happy Tiers Bakery in Incline Village selling hot chocolate bombs and brunch boxes to feed the whole family. (They’ll even come to you, offering free delivery to anywhere in the Reno/Tahoe area on orders of $25 or more.)

There’s plenty to do indoors to re-energize your mind, body, and soul, so just remember to stay healthy, stay safe, and do whatever you need to take care of yourself.

Do Not sure whether to venture outside:  Why not check out the live Lake Tahoe area road and resort webcams.

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NOAA Weather

Truckee-Tahoe, CA

Last Updated on Jan 19 2021, 12:35 am PST

Current Conditions: Overcast

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Temp: 28°F

Wind: NE at 13mph

Humidity: 55%

Windchill: 17°F

Your 5-Day Forecast at a Glance

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NOAA Weather

Truckee-Tahoe, CA

Last Updated on Jan 19 2021, 12:35 am PST

Current Conditions: Overcast

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Temp: 28°F

Wind: NE at 13mph

Humidity: 55%

Windchill: 17°F

Your 5-Day Forecast at a Glance

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Listen Live KTKE Tahoe Truckee Radio

Listen Live KTKE Tahoe Truckee Radio
Winnemucca Lake Glass Stick
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Winter Activities in lake Tahoe that are Free, Outdoors, and Open

Winter Activities in lake Tahoe that are Free, Outdoors, and Open

Winter Activities in lake Tahoe that are Free, Outdoors, and Open

Winter Activities in lake Tahoe that are Free, Outdoors, and Open

It’s a weird year to be living or visiting Lake Tahoe, but a big reason why people are drawn to this place is for its abundance of outdoor activities and fresh air. And now that the snow is flying, most of Tahoe’s ski resorts are open but many have since cut off season pass sales and aren’t doing walkup day-of ticket sales anymore for the start of the 2020/21 winter season. Therefore, if you are stuck in Tahoe and looking for something to do yet don’t have a parking reservation at a ski resort, this article provides some options for free and available activities to get out and stay active even in the winter during a stay-at-home order.

Big disclaimer, though: Many of these activities you need your own equipment and don’t count on public restrooms being available. With most of these, a certain level of skill and backcountry knowledge is involved and doing any of these things is entirely at your own risk. So, remember- check the weather conditions, research where you’re going ahead of time, be careful, and have FUN!

1. Go Ice Skating

Putting on some skates and sliding around on the ice is a great way to spend a chilly weekend day when you’re sick of being cooped up indoors. If you’re into knocking around a puck, then there’s an ice-skating rink in South Lake Tahoe as well as rinks that you can pay to access in the villages of Heavenly and Northstar California for easy cruising. (Edgewood Tahoe Resort and the Resort at Squaw Creek have rinks as well, but they may not be open.) There’s also a rink in Tahoe City behind the Savemart at the golf course. For a little family friendly pond hockey ($10 donation), check out the video below for Sky Tavern Hockey in the Mt. Rose area. If you have your own skates and know how to read the ice, then check out the free sometimes skateable ponds which may include Prosser Creek Reservoir (outside of Truckee), the pond across from Moon Dunes beach at Tahoe Vista, Red Lake near South Lake Tahoe or if you’re up for it- hike out to Eagle Lake or Granite Lake on the West Shore. Just don’t forget to bring your skates a friend and the requisite safety gear.

Check out some video footage of Winnemucca Lake at 9,000 feet.

News clip from KTVN Channel 2 News on the community rink at Sky Tavern (below)

2. Go Snowshoeing

If you’re into hiking the Tahoe trails in the summertime, then snowshoeing is a great way to get outdoors in your offseason. Snowshoes are decently priced and easy to store, so if you spend a significant amount of time in Tahoe (especially in the winter) then it’s worth keeping a pair or two around. My favorite places to snowshoe in North Lake Tahoe include the Flume Trail accessible from the Tunnel Creek Café parking lot in Incline Village, Chickadee Ridge on Highway 431 (remember to bring some sunflower seeds to feed the chickadees), or anywhere down to the lake on the East Shore if you can find a legal parking spot.

3. Go Backcountry Skiing, Snowboarding, or Cross-Country Skiing

For those lucky enough to have a splitboard or snowmobile, then they’ve likely already had their best Tahoe powder day out in the backcountry in the last year or so, considering when the ski resorts closed then everyone quickly transitioned to split boarding and cross-country skiing. Although it takes a lot of equipment to do this safely, some good spots for advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders are up on Mount Rose Proper, the ridge on the West Shore, and around Hope Valley and Kirkwood towards the Eastern Sierra. Just please, please, please check the Sierra Avalanche Center for conditions before you go; dangerous life-threatening slides can be common. Always go with a friend and it’s imperative that everyone in your group has a shovel, probe, and a beacon with them.  For additional information and links for hitting the backcountry: Winter of Backcountry Ski & Snowboard in Lake Tahoe

Sky Tavern Hockey and sign
Sledding_Bayview Trailhead

4. Go Paddling

Paddling a kayak or stand up paddle board (SUP) on Lake Tahoe in the winter can be tricky with winter storms coming through (and the water and air temperatures drop significantly), but it’s still possible if you know what you’re doing. Big Blue is open to the public all year long and there are plenty of access points to drop in, but at any time of the year you have to be prepared that if you fall into the 42-degree water you are confident enough to swim back to shore. It is worth a look at the Lake Tahoe Webcams page to see current conditions and absolutely tell someone when you plan on going paddling and how long you are going to be gone if you attempt this in the colder months.

5. Build a Snowman

This is probably the safest activity you can do and the best way to introduce your kids to snow for the first time. I’ve noticed that some wide-open spaces where the snow tends to keep a little longer and it’s great for making big white balls is up on the Mt. Rose summit, the golf courses in Incline Village, or down by the beach at the Kings Beach State Recreation Area. In South Lake Tahoe, Bijou Community Park and El Dorado Beach are nice places to play in the snow.

Sledding in non-designated areas is frowned upon due to safety and littering issues, so most ski resorts that you call up won’t tell you places to sled (and it’s the number one question that people ask). However, there is a little-known secret called the California SNO-PARK program that exists in Tahoe. These parks contain bathrooms and snow cleared parking lots (if the snowplows can get to them) and is administered through the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division. Day permits are only $5, or you can buy a season pass valid November 1-May 30 for $25. In Tahoe, there are SNO-PARKs at Donner Lake and Donner Summit; Blackwood Canyon and Taylor Creek on the West Shore; and Hope Valley/Echo Lake on the South Shore. Click the below for additional information on California SNO-PARKS and to buy your day or season pass.  Common questions for California SNO-PARK visitors.

WHERE CAN I BUY A CALIFORNIA SNO-PARK Pass?  ANSWER: Click the link below to buy online or learn more about locations to purchase.

WHAT IS THE FINE FOR A VEHICLE PARKED AT A CALIFORNIA SNO-PARK WITHOUT A PERMIT? ANSWER: The fine for parking in a California Sno-Park without a pass is $94.50

Come When There’s Snow

Lake Tahoe received a pretty good dump in mid-December and there’s more on the way before Christmas. However, before you drive up here, make sure you check the weather and road conditions and carry chains in your car (or better yet, bring a 4WD one). Bring your own groceries and supplies, too, since the grocery stores have been wiped out lately. Be safe and stay home if you’re sick…the snow will still be here waiting for you.

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NOAA Weather

Truckee-Tahoe, CA

Last Updated on Jan 19 2021, 12:35 am PST

Current Conditions: Overcast

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Temp: 28°F

Wind: NE at 13mph

Humidity: 55%

Windchill: 17°F

Your 5-Day Forecast at a Glance

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Ski Resort Openings + Health & Safety Protocols

Ski Resort Openings + Health & Safety Protocols

Ski Resort Openings + Health & Safety Protocols

Ski Resort Openings + Health & Safety Protocols

Covid-19 Guidance for Nevada and California are fluid so it is important to check the ski resort health updates as well as those from the state governments. Here are the links to the Public Health pages for California and Nevada.
Covid-19 Health and Travel updates can be found on the California Department of Public Health Website: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/limited-stay-at-home-order.aspx
Covid-19 Health and Travel Guidance for Nevada can be found at the Nevada Department of Health Nevada Health Response website. 
Nevada Health Response https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/

Lake Tahoe received its first snowfall of the 2020-21 season in the beginning of November and is busy getting ready to welcome back skiers and snowboarders. However, since we are still amid the coronavirus pandemic, many of Tahoe’s ski resorts are implementing new health and safety protocols. At most resorts, walking up and buying a daily lift ticket is a thing of the past as many of them have started a reservation system to help control 50 percent capacity. The good news is that skiing and snowboarding is a naturally social distancing sport (like golf or tennis) and with less people on the slopes there will be more room to roam.

Since ski resorts are about to resume operations as temperatures continue to stay cool, this what you need to know before trying to ski or ride at one of Tahoe’s main ski resorts this winter:

Mt. Rose Slide
Mt. Rose Covid Protocols

Mt. Rose: Opening November 20 

Mt. Rose has been busy making snow yet it has not announced its opening date because management wants to make sure they have enough of a snow base to open top to bottom to allow for more distance between skiers. In accordance with local, state, and National Ski Areas Association guidelines/best practices, Mt. Rose is limiting season pass and daily lift ticket sales, it has enhanced its rental equipment cleaning protocols, and will require skiers and snowboarders to wear a mask in lift lines and on the chairlifts. www.skirose.com

Diamond Peak: Projected Opening Date December 10

Over on the northeast shore of Lake Tahoe, Diamond Peak is known for its incredible views of Big Blue and family-friendly feel. New this year, however, all daily lift tickets must be purchased online, and sales will be limited based on volume and to allow for proper physical distancing. Reservations are now required to secure a table in the base lodge and there will be no indoor seating at its mid-mountain Snowflake Lodge. Face coverings are required on premises and passholders are free to show up as they please. www.diamondpeak.com

Northstar, Kirkwood and Heavenly: Opening Date November 20

The Tahoe Vail resorts started making snow on October 25 and their snow bases have graciously been augmented by Mother Nature since then to help with a pre-Thanksgiving opening. However, anyone who wants to ski or snowboard at any of the Tahoe resorts must reserve their spot online with Epic passholders being given priority access through December 7. If you don’t have your Epic pass, you can only purchase a date-specific lift ticket online starting December 8. www.vailresorts.com

Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows: Opening November 25

Squaw-Alpine just invested $1 million to increase sanitizing efforts such as installing touchless faucets, soap dispensers and hand sanitizing stations. Management also expanded outdoor seating at most of its onsite restaurants. Unlike the Tahoe-based Vail Resorts, Squaw-Alpine is not requiring Ikon season passholders to make a reservation if they want to access the mountains. However, walk-up daily lift ticket purchases at the resort will initially be unavailable. As of mid-November, one can’t buy a daily lift ticket online until after January 4. Whether you’re a season passholder or daily visitor, it’s a good idea to check online for updates before you plan your trip to either resort. www.squawalpine.com

Homewood: Opening December 11

Just like Diamond Peak offers amazing views of Lake Tahoe from the East Shore, Homewood has those same spectacular views from the West Shore as well as similar Covid-19 policies in place. All daily lift ticket sales will be done online (and are limited) and one-time guests will have to reserve their parking spot. Fortunately, season passholders do not have to reserve their space but must register their vehicle when they get their season pass mailed to them. Homewood will need that information by November 20 but awards passholders with five discounted Buddy Tickets in return. www.skihomewood.com

Sierra-at-Tahoe: Opening TBA

When it comes to opening this South Shore ski resort this winter, Sierra-at-Tahoe lives by the notion that giving respect gets respect…and keeps the mountain open all season long. It warns that their new Covid-19 safety protocol is dynamic and subject to change, but some of the main points of it ask skiers and riders to wear face coverings indoors and wherever social distancing cannot be achieved; follow the six feet of physical distancing recommendation; and note that its restaurants have grab n go options with limited seating available. Also, unlike Vail, season passholders will not have to make a reservation to ski or ride at the resort. www.sierraattahoe.com

Sugar Bowl: Tentative Opening November 27

If Sugar Bowl can open on November 27 weather conditions permitting, then it will sell daily lift tickets only online through December 18 and then the next batch of tickets will go on sale in the first week of December. Lift tickets sold are limited as well as date specific, non-refundable, and non-transferable. Equipment rentals and private ski and snowboard lessons are also available to buy online. www.sugarbowl.com

Mammoth: Now Open!

Even though Mammoth isn’t technically in Tahoe, it does tend to get the same natural snowfall that Lake Tahoe does and since it’s only three hours away in Eastern Sierra many Ikon passholders like to visit Mammoth on their way to or from their Tahoe trip. And the best part is that Mammoth is currently open! Like Squaw/Alpine, Mammoth has invested $1 million in upgrading their sanitation procedures in the wake of Covid-19 and Ikon passholders don’t need to reserve their spot on the slopes in advance. Walk-up ticket sales are not available anymore so that the mountain can control capacity and people planning their winter ski vacation to Mammoth are highly encouraged to check its website for updates since things are always changing. www.mammothmountain.com

The Good News is That Winter is Here

Fortunately for skiers and snowboarders, the temperatures in Tahoe have significantly dropped and there have been one or two snowstorms a week since early November. All the resorts I’ve talked to are excited to open and welcome people back, and I can’t think of a better way to reduce stress and anxiety than to alleviate it with some fresh air and powder runs.

For a general video on 10 trends Affecting Snowboarding and Skiing for 2020-2021 Season check out this video from Chris Eyres.

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NOAA Weather

Truckee-Tahoe, CA

Last Updated on Jan 19 2021, 12:35 am PST

Current Conditions: Overcast

NOAA Icon

Temp: 28°F

Wind: NE at 13mph

Humidity: 55%

Windchill: 17°F

Your 5-Day Forecast at a Glance

Categories

Listen Live KTKE Tahoe Truckee Radio

Listen Live KTKE Tahoe Truckee Radio

Advertising

Mt. Rose Slide side groomers
Squaw Valley at Night in the Winter
Squaw Valley Lift Operations

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