It’s been a gorgeous autumn in Northern Nevada and predictably, many locals are complaining that they’re not ready for winter. I’m truly sorry for these people, I’ve always looked forward to and enjoyed living here in winter. Well, maybe not 100% of it, I could do without the window scraping at 6:00 AM for example. Perhaps due in part to mild hardships such as that, I never take the fun stuff for granted.
For me winter renews a competitive but rarely discussed rivalry between my neighbor and I as to who will get his driveway shoveled first. I absolutely love trudging through snow with my wife then warming up by the fire and/or in the hot tub with a warm drink. I also like driving in snowy conditions and when necessary, take pride in offering my constructive advice to those with less winter driving experience. Of course, it’s hard for them to hear with all the windows rolled up but I’d like to think they’re getting a good grasp of my expert coaching via gestures and lip-reading. All great but in the end, what I really love about Reno in winter is our proximity to skiing and boarding. With that in mind I’d like to take a moment to share my top 5 local favorites while describing the qualities that planted them in my list.
#5) Kirkwood: Off the beaten path and surrounded by rugged peaks, this 2,300 acre resort is best suited for expert skiers and boarders. In fact, only 12% of Kirkwood’s skiable terrain is considered suitable for beginners and it has several of the most difficult, so called “intermediate” runs in the area. Head up to a place called “The Wall” if you want to take, I don’t know, the scariest run of your life!!!
#4) Heavenly: If you’ve got "first time in Tahoe" guests, take them here. With over 10,000 feet of elevation and 4,600 skiable acres spread over two states, this resort is a monster and best visited with someone that knows their way around. Heavenly has lengthy runs with over 3,500’ of vertical drop but it’s not always easy to find or stay on them. Oh! I forgot to mention the “killer” views of the lake, plenty of intermediate and you can literally ski right into the heart of the S. Lake Tahoe Strip.
#3) Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows: I used to tell people that Squaw Valley was like three resorts in one. Now that they’ve added Alpine Meadows to their quiver, it’s four. Describing the incredibly diverse terrain at this resort is difficult but it’s safe to say they have one or more of everything. Consisting of over 6,000 acres with 270 runs, Squaw offers a nice/equal blend of beginner - crazy expert terrain. PS: You can’t do this in one day, rent a place in Squaw Creek for a great overnight.
#2) Sugar Bowl: Many folks in Truckee would like to keep this resort a secret, hence, It’s on my list. This is a smallish, European-style resort and true to its’ name Sugar Bowl receives an average of over 500” of snow annually. 12 lifts serve 1,650 acres of diverse terrain plus it’s in a nicely sheltered location providing better than average weather. Sugar Bowl attracts a cool crowd with an equal blend of San Francisco sophisticates and Truckee locals. Swing by the Bar of America for a quick bite on the way home.
#1) Mt Rose: Of course, this is my favorite, I’m such a “Homer”. But seriously, our neighborhood ski resort has a lot going on; 1,200 acres serve 60+ trails and once they get The Chutes open, Rose has some of the most challenging double black diamond runs in the area. Drive up with a cooler and park in the upper lot for an all-day, ski in/out picnic. I learned to ski here, it’s where my kids learned to ski & board too. Best of all, it’s still 35 minutes to the base of the NW Chair from my front door.
Honorable mention goes to Northstar which is awfully nice and built with families in mind but too flat and hectic to make it into this top five. Meanwhile, I hope this helps. Mother nature providing I’ll see you on the hill