California has always been known for its endless summer but high in
the Northern Sierra, there’s a nearly endless winter, too. Spring
brings sunshine and beach barbeques to low-lying areas but, in
Tahoe, it is the beginning of the spring ski season. This means
warmer weather, more sunshine and lots of fun activities. Puddle
jumping, half-pipe contests, rail jams, festivals, concerts and
discounted lift tickets are just a few of the many advantages to
skiing in March, April and May.
Lake Tahoe, as a resort , spans two states and reigns as one of
the premier ski areas in the U.S., averaging 450 inches of snowfall
annually and boasting the deepest snowpack of any North American
ski destination. The lake itself, the world’s third-largest Alpine
lake, has an average elevation of 6,225 feet and remains supremely
pristine. Tahoe’s location, less than an hour’s drive from Reno or
three hours from San Francisco, lends itself to weekend getaways as
well as weeklong, ski-centered family holidays.
Snowfall often begins well before Thanksgiving auguring a long,
congenial season. Several major resorts remain open through May
allowing agents to book clients on ski vacations through Memorial
Day. Many of the resorts plan for spring with exciting events and
The last few seasons have been especially wet with snow leaving
resorts with a 160-inch base for the 2005 spring season and more
snow is expected. Tahoe’s Terrain includes some of the steepest and
longest runs in North America, with powder stashes, corduroy,
wide-open bowls, natural chutes, hot new terrain parks and
challenging half-pipes ready for those who want to brave them.
Squaw Valley is the self-proclaimed spring skiing capital of North
Spring at Squaw blends the best of both worlds, California
sunshine and abundant snowpack. Late-season skiing or riding at the
resort also means more elbow room on the slopes and shorter lift
One of the many attractions during Tahoe’s spring season is the
High Camp Swimming Lagoon and Spa at Squaw Village. Here, guests
can combine a great day on the slopes with a dip in a mountain-top
swimming pool and a soak in a giant slopeside Jacuzzi. The swimming
lagoon is heated to a comfortable 80 degrees and perfect for
cooling off after a strenuous day on the slopes. The
25-foot-in-diameter Jacuzzi is a relaxing 103 degrees and is
surrounded by expansive decks and an umbrella bar. This year’s
lagoon opening was March 19, the official beginning of the spring
ski season at Squaw Valley.
Heavenly, the largest and most visited of Tahoe’s roughly 15 ski
areas, boasts 4,800 acres of patrolled terrain, 79 runs and 25
lifts, not to mention the longest vertical drop in the Tahoe Basin
a mountain descent over five miles long. Heavenly also has one of
the largest snow-making systems in the world, capable of opening 66
percent of the resort’s trails. This year’s SpringLoaded event is a
month-long celebration with free concerts, pond-skimming and other
wacky on-mountain activities. The festival kicks off on March
With 2,420 acres, more than 70 runs, 240 acres of backcountry
and an abundance of terrain features, Northstar is another reason
Lake Tahoe is so attractive in the spring. The resort rewards
spring skiiers with free skiing and events like the Reggae Spring
Fling, featuring a ‘limbo contest’ and the Nikita Chickita
Snowdown, an all-female snowboard competition.
In addition to Northstar, Heavenly and Squaw Valley, Tahoe
numbers five other sizeable, downhill ski resorts: Sierra at Tahoe,
Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood, Diamond Peak and Mt. Rose with dozens
more resorts nearby.
Squaw Valley is offering a spring retreat at the Resort at Squaw
Creek. Packages include two nights lodging, two days skiing and
free pool and Jacuzzi at High Camp Swimming Lagoon and Spa. Prices
start at $456 weekends or $410 weekdays based on double
More packages are available. Spring rates are valid from April 3 to
the end of the season which is scheduled for May 30.
Take advantage of the Spring Ski Free/Stay Free Package.
Stay for two nights and two days and get the third night and ski
day free. Prices start at $162 per person. Ski Free Packages are
available from April 3-May 2.
Heavenly also offers the Buy One Get One Free Spring Package.
Trips start at $86 per person and are available Sunday to Thursday
only. Valid from April 3 to May 1.
For its part, Northstar’s Stay and Ski Free package gives snow
riders double occupancy in a studio condominium, lift tickets good
for the next day’s skiing, and a free shuttle ride to Northstar
Village (two-day minimum) for $92 per night. Stay and Ski Free is
valid from April 3 through closing.
For information on other Tahoe stay and play packages, contact
the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.