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First time visitors to Lake Tahoe

LMD

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We have never been to Tahoe and am wondering which area is best for winter skiing for beginners (with a ski school) and which is best for summer (with hiking, water activities). We are not into gambling at all.

Thank you!
 

vacationtime1

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If you are absolute beginners at skiing (<2 days on skis), there is no reason to go to one of the large ski hills to learn. The big crowds, high lift ticket prices, and long walks from the parking lot are unnecessary.
 

LisaH

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Hiking trails are all around Lake Tahoe. We have stayed at Marriott Timber Lodge, Worldmark Southshore and in Incline Village area, both have great hiking trails nearby.
For beginners skiing, I’ll recommend Diamond Peak in Incline Village. Once it becomes too boring, there are Mount Rose, Northstar, and Squaw Valley nearby.
 
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LMD

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If you are absolute beginners at skiing (<2 days on skis), there is no reason to go to one of the large ski hills to learn. The big crowds, high lift ticket prices, and long walks from the parking lot are unnecessary.
Where are the less crowded, smaller hills. It's our 8 year old that is a beginner. Thank you!
 

vacationtime1

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Where are the less crowded, smaller hills. It's our 8 year old that is a beginner. Thank you!
On the north shore of Tahoe, not the south shore. The smaller hills where I took my kids when they were beginners were Donner Ski Ranch, Diamond, Soda Springs, Tahoe Donner, Homewood, Mt. Rose, and probably others I have forgotten. But if the adults ski, several of these will not have enough terrain to be interesting.

btw--if the adults are experienced skiers, don't come to Tahoe. The snow is much better in Colorado or Utah. However, for beginners, Tahoe's "better" weather -- mostly in the 20's and 30's with sunshine -- is a good thing.

Contra to post #3, beginners should avoid Northstar and Squaw. The latter has world class terrain, but both are huge, crowded, and expensive. The walk from the parking lot to the ski rental places to the actual lifts can be demoralizing for an eight year old beginner.
 

Silkrun

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Where are the less crowded, smaller hills. It's our 8 year old that is a beginner. Thank you!
When will you be travelling? Sierra snowfall is plentiful but variable. If you are thinking about Christmas, about 25% of the time Christmas season is terrible with only a fraction of the terrain open. Without any further info, considering the 8-year old, I would suggest Northstar. Reasonable chance for snow early and late season and more family friendly than Squaw-Alpine Meadows. Weekends can be crowded, though, and double-black diamond skiers will be bored. Sugar Bowl is another possibility, a really fun place to ski. You might also consider Homewood. Fantastic view of the Lake! Good place to go after a snow storm as most people stop off at Squaw. Also, a bit more sheltered from the winds which follow a major storm.

If you are staying at South Lake Tahoe, I suggest Sierra-at-Tahoe, about 10-15 miles west of South Lake Tahoe. You lose the big resort feel of Heavenly, but you lose a lot of the hassle also. Kirkwood is great, but a bit far from South Lake. Maybe not the best place for an 8-year old.
 

ski_sierra

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+1 to the info given by @vacationtime1.

Most people who ski in Tahoe live in California or Nevada. It looks like you are in Florida, so unless you have a strong reason to be in Tahoe, I would not plan a skiing trip to Tahoe. The prices are high, it is crowded and you have to deal with a lot of traffic and parking issues. Most people who can spend money on a flight will find that places in the Rockies (Utah, Colorado, Wyoming) are better for a week long ski trip.

You can find some good info about ski terrain and historical snowfall on this website:
http://bestsnow.net/calnet.htm
http://bestsnow.net/earlysno.htm
Unlike many articles on the web, which are paid for by the ski resorts, this website is very objective.

Summer in Tahoe is wonderful though.
 

DeniseM

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If you are looking for warm summer weather, July and August are the warmest months in Tahoe. June can be cold - we've even seen snowfall on Memorial Day weekend. South Shore has the most restaurants, timeshares, and things to do. There is hiking everywhere.

-In South Shore, we like Van Sickle Bi-State Park which is on the hillside directly behind the casinos and offers a range of hikes from easy to more challenging. With kids, I'd do the Cal-Neva Loop. The higher elevations offer fabulous views of Lake Tahoe: http://parks.nv.gov/forms/VanSickle_Bi_State_Park_Map.pdf

-We also like the easy hike across a meadow and through the woods that starts near the Lakeside Casino and ends at the lake - this is a flat 2.5 mile walk which is perfect for kids and families: Lam Watah Nature Trail You can also ride bikes on this trail.

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 9.37.31 AM.png


Van Sickle Bi-State Park:

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 10.08.15 AM.png


The water fall hike is a little more verticle than the loop trail:

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 10.08.32 AM.png


Lam Watah Trail in the Fall:

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 10.17.34 AM.png
 
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jd2601

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Great pictures! We will be at Timber Lodge in a few weeks for our first visit to Tahoe. Hope to do some nice hikes!
Thanks for the pictures and thoughts on what to do. Jd2601
 

BJRSanDiego

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+1 to the info given by @vacationtime1.

Most people who ski in Tahoe live in California or Nevada. It looks like you are in Florida, so unless you have a strong reason to be in Tahoe, I would not plan a skiing trip to Tahoe. ....

Summer in Tahoe is wonderful though.
I too would recommend the summer over the winter.

One of the challenges for winter skiing is the weather. If there isn't enough snow, it could be a "bust". But if there are snow storms there could be difficulty getting from the airport (Reno) to Tahoe. When there is substantial snow on the ground, the Highway Patrol may require all 2 WD vehicles to have snow chains. But most rental car agencies don't allow chains to be put on their vehicles. Perhaps there is some easy solution that people have figured out for driving rental cars in snow and getting past the snow chain issue.

I liked the picture that Denise posted of the Van Sickle bi-state park. I hiked there and saw the waterfall in July. BTW, the Van Sickle park is right behind the Marriott Timberlodge in South Lake Tahoe. Another favorite of mine is Eagle lake. It is a short (but somewhat strenuous) hike to a beautiful and pristine alpine lake.



https://assets.rbl.ms/9856774/35x35.jpg
 

lockewong

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We have never been to Tahoe and am wondering which area is best for winter skiing for beginners (with a ski school) and which is best for summer (with hiking, water activities). We are not into gambling at all.

Thank you!
We live in the Bay Area and both my children grew up watching the rainfall to gauge the trip to Tahoe in the Winter. Like what Robert posted, you can be stuck with chain control for HOURS at Applegate- Highway 80 past Sacramento waiting for the roads to be clear enough to drive with chains or a 4 WD. That said, if you want a beginner school, Alpine Meadows, now part of Squaw, has an excellent ski school. You will not have to slog through a huge parking lot to the gondola that Squaw has. If you are an experience skier, you can warm up on the black diamonds/high blues to gauge your abilities. Both my children learned at Alpine and there are only two sides, so you can find your children. If you are an intermediate, Alpine and Sugar Bowl will work fine. The South Shore has Heavenly with two sides; the California Side with its own lift and the Nevada Side. If you are not staying at the Base at Heavenly. (Nevada side), the trek to the Gondola can be logistically difficult with your equipment. Also, the top may closed between the Nevada and the California sides if there are high winds, stranding you on one side if your car is parked on the other. However, if the weather is clear and the wind behaves, the views from the top are stunning. They have a ski school on both sides.

As to the summer, South Shore is where we go to hike Eagle Falls and Upper Eagle Falls. You can go to Richardson Bay and Kayak and grab an enormous ice cream cone at the end of the day. Wait for the ice cream can be lengthy but it is fun. It is a meal in itself. Also, the Eastside of the lake near Incline Village has gorgeous beaches. Best months are July, August and early September for the Summer. Good luck. Lake Tahoe is beautiful and there are many activities for the family.
 
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