Only a two-hour flight from Southern California and conveniently located in the San Francisco Bay Area's backyard, Lake Tahoe is an ideal destination for snow boarders and skiers planning a trip this season. Despite last year's snow drought, Lake Tahoe ski resorts still expect thousands of visitors in the coming months and are prepping for them in a big way. Over the next five years, resorts in the area plan to spend more than $100 million on upgrades and expansions
, according to the LA Times. If you are living in or visiting California this spring, North America's largest concentration of skiing facilities is just a few hours away. Don't miss out.
Do Expect a Few Crowds
With a sapphire blue lake, sandy beaches and snow-capped mountains in the not-too-far distance, Lake Tahoe is always a popular place, but Christmas and the Fourth of July are among the busiest so plan accordingly. Know that prices sky rocket during these times and crowds will be at their thickest. Like most resorts, skiers flock to the mountains on weekends. Opt for week days and arrive early and quit early. Invest in some ski insurance
for your equipment and to account for trip cancelations. Fodors suggests visiting the ski areas with few high-speed lifts or limited lodging at their bases, such as Homewood, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl and Kirkwood.
Don't Fret – There's Plenty of Room for Everyone
It's North America's largest concentration of skiing facilities, remember? There are plenty of trails and terrain for you to navigate without feeling cramped. Try Squaw Valley – the 1960 Winter Olympics host – and experience the U.S.'s only funitel
, a high-speed gondola that runs on two wires. There's a reason this place is popular, just make sure to eat lunch during an off time, such as 11 a.m. or 1 p.m., to avoid lines of hungry people. Squaw Valley is all about safety and insists upon skier responsibility and awareness.
Do Plan on Being Wowed by Nature's Beauty
Visiting Lake Tahoe to ski, board, hike, shop or do whatever it is you do on vacation will provide you with at least one thing: gorgeous vistas of spectacular scenery. But that's not all. On your off day, hike up Eagle Falls Trail to catch heralded views of Emerald Bay. Ice skate
at the Olympic Ice Pavilion that overlooks the Lake or spend an hour or two on a dog-sledding adventure – the area boasts several options such as Sierra Sled Dog Adventures and Husky Express.
Don't Forget About 'Sierra Cement'
Though sometimes Lake Tahoe snow conditions can be powdery perfect, there's a reason for this nickname. Because of the mild temperatures over the Pacific, falling snow in the Sierra mountains tends to be heavy and wet. It's called Sierra cement – warm snow packed with moisture. Skiers complain about getting stuck in the mush, but don't forget the upside. Because of the weather, you can sometimes ski and board through late July.