Where is the Best Skiing in Lake Tahoe?


Where is the best skiing in Lake Tahoe?” was first published on Sheknows.

As a child, I never liked skiing; my fingers were cold, my feet hurt and the skis were heavy. I could not figure out why my family loved it and stopped skiing completely. As an adult, I have slowly returned to the slope to shake my childhood fears and misconceptions. As part of my 50 new adventures before I am 50, I accepted the challenge to ski at all three of Vail Resorts locations in Lake Tahoe, California to adjust my attitude by changing my altitude.

Skiing: Kirkwood Mountain Resort

Where is the Best Skiing in Lake Tahoe? KirkwoodI began my journey at Kirkwood Mountain Resort with the Expedition Kirkwood Two Day Women’s Clinic. At first I was unsure that I was ready for a ski clinic and rated myself as an intermediate skier although I often ski groomed blacks. Spending time focused on technique and confidence building, I began to realize my skills might be better than my brain was ready to admit. Listening and watching the other women in my group I felt empowered to test my skills and break through the limitations in my head.

​Due to snow conditions, my Expedition Kirkwood Women’s clinic was one day with the coaches and a second day with new friends as our coaches were snowed out when the road closed. I loved the clinic and skiing three days at Kirkwood. Conditions can change rapidly in the mountains and I loved being snowed in!

VideoDid Lisa Niver love Expedition Kirkwood Women’s Clinic?

Ski Heavenly

Where is the Best Skiing in Lake Tahoe? Ski Heavenly​Heavenly was my next mountain to explore. I loved my day of skiing which started on the gondola and included skiing in both Nevada and California. I have never skied in two states in one day before. The views of Lake Tahoe were mesmerizing. I wanted to stop at every turn and take more photos.

We visited Tahoe Mountain Lab and tested out their high speed Wi-Fi on the mountain. If you want to work in between runs, this co-working space is perfect. It is bright, secure and comfortable. I love the idea that you could ski for an hour and then work for an hour and have a conference call and then ski some more.

After a tasty lunch at Tamarack Lodge, I met Coach Steve Scott for a private lesson of moguls, powder and more. Coach Steve concurred with what Coach Amy McCormick  told me at the Women’s Clinic that I am actually an advanced skier.

In my lesson, we tackled steep and deep. The focus on this lesson added to my pivot slips from earlier in the week. We talked about not leaving my left arm behind and how arms and hands are 20% of your body weight. Keeping your arms up and in position really makes a difference for balance especially in changing conditions. Coach Scott had me work on the power pose at the end of a turn especially in deep powder and not lifting one ski in a turn. My favorite part was when he wanted me to move up and down in powder which for me ended up looking like hop hop I am the Easter bunny. It was not quite right but it helped and I made progress.

I had been concerned that I would fall in the powder and not be able to get up. When that did happen to me, he taught me the skills so I could maneuver myself into a better position. I did still need some help to get up and I know I need more practice but I can do it. Skiing on new mountains and in more challenging terrain was terrific.

After a sunset ride in the gondola back to Heavenly Village eating at Kalani’s was perfect as it was very close to my lodging, great Hawaiian style menu and festive atmosphere. The Pan Caramelized Miso-Yaki Sea Bass which was featured in Bon Appetit Magazine was a favorite entree with my group. I loved strolling around the ice skating rink and shops after dinner. I enjoyed the multiple hot tubs with a view at The Grand Residences by Marriott. This property has a full spa and my suite had a complete kitchen and dining room table.

VideoWhere is the Best Skiing in Lake Tahoe? Ski Heavenly

Northstar California Resort

Where is the Best Skiing in Lake Tahoe? Luxury Skiing at NorthStarFor my final day of skiing, I rode up the gondola with Coach Toby at Northstar California Resort. She collected me at the Adventure, Guiding and Learning Center for my Platinum Private 3-Hour Lesson. With her, I skied in many neighborhoods of Northstar including Mt. Pluto, Lookout Mountain, Martis Camp, Parks and Pipes, the Backside and Northwest Territory. It was wonderful weather and snow for my first day at Northstar.

Coach Toby also worked with me on turn initiation and about flattening my ski for the turn with the helpful focus of Big Toe, Little Toe. Taking lessons not only improved my skiing greatly, it guided me around the mountain to all the best runs, took me to the front of the line but also I enjoyed my time on the snow so much more. Sometimes as adults, we say, “I am good enough, I know what I am doing” but we still need help. It really is worth it to work with a professional and grow your skills.

If you are a Bay Area Weekend Warrior, choosing Northstar for skiing, consider elevating to the Platinum Experience to make every moment count. I loved the Platinum tōst with cheese board, champagne and s’mores with homemade vanilla bean marshmallows. We enjoyed the sunshine, comfortable chairs and relaxation. I loved the Lake Tahoe tradition of toasting on the mountain each day at 2:00 p.m.

VideoWhere is the Best Skiing in Lake Tahoe? Luxury Skiing at NorthStar

After skiing, I meandered over to the Tahoe Yoga & Wellness Center in Northstar village and had a magic massage by Andrew who revived my tired muscles so I was ready for Marshmology at The Backyard at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe and delicious dinner at The Chef’s Table at Manzanita. I highly recommend a massage after a day of moguls but really is there any day that isn’t made better by a spa treatment and marshmallows?

I rode the Highlands Gondola up from the Village at Northstar and received a special badge on EpicMix for riding multiple gondolas in one day. I received twelve new badges in the system as I explored so many parts of Northstar during my awesome private lesson with Coach Toby. She told me that in the ski system I am a 7 (it is out of 9). I worked with three instructors at three mountains and it seems unanimous that I am a much better skier than I thought.

VideoJoin me at Manzanita, The Ritz-Carlton Northstar

I loved skiing in Lake Tahoe!

My adventures in Lake Tahoe were amazing. I skied in sunshine, a snowstorm and I was snowed in. I went to my very first women’s clinic and skied harder, faster and in more difficult terrain than I thought I could handle. I learned about myself and grew more confident in my skills. Each of the three mountains has much to offer with a very different feel. I loved that Kirkwood is more laid back about lodging and meals and all about challenging your ski abilities, ski at Heavenly in two states and enjoy unparalleled breathtaking panoramic lake views while Northstar is ready to pamper you with a luxury platinum experience.

One of the best things is that all three mountains are on my Epic Pass. I often ski at Park City Mountain and have a local pass there. All of my days of skiing were part of my pass I already owned. I cannot wait to explore more terrain and mountains in the Vail Resorts Family of skiing!

More information about my trip:

Read my article on the Expedition Kirkwood Women’s Clinic and sign up for the April 1, 2017 clinic.

New 2017 Closing dates: Kirkwood April 16, Northstar April 23 and Heavenly April 30:

EpicPasses are now on sale for next season. Buy before April 9 for the best rates and deals!

Where did I ski?​

Kirkwood Mountain Resort 1501 Kirkwood Meadows Drive, Kirkwood, CA 95646

Heavenly Mountain Resort 4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

​N​orthstar California 5001 Northstar Dr, Truckee, CA 96161

How did I get there? I flew from LAX to Reno​ Airport​ on American Airlines. It was a very easy flight. I almost forgot I had switched states from California to Nevada but when I entered the terminal and saw all the slot machines in use I remembered I am in a different state!​

Where did I stay?

at Kirkwood? ​The​ Mountain Club 1377 Kirkwood Meadows Drive, Kirkwood, CA 95646 (209) 258-7293

at Heavenly? The Grand Residences by Marriott, Heavenly Village, Lake Tahoe​ 1001 Heavenly Village Way South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 530-542-8400

at Northstar​? Northstar Lodging in a cabin with full kitchen, patio with BBQ and very comfortable bed. I could see the gondola from my living room window. I loved the trail through the snow to the Northstar Village.​

What was my ski equipment? Thank you to Kirkwood Village Demos. I skied all week on Blizzard Black Pearls which were fantastic in all of the conditions I found at all three resorts​. Mtn Club Building 1399 Kirkwood Meadows Drive Kirkwood, CA 95646 Store Hours – 8am to 5pm (209) 258-7547

My skis at Northstar were also Blizzard Black Pearls and from North star rentals in the Northstar Gold Club which I picked up at the Adventure, Guiding and Learning Center for my Platinum Primo Private 3-Hour Lesson.

​​Where did I eat

at Kirkwood? The Wall Bar and Grill​ “​Located in The Lodge at Kirkwood, guests will enjoy spectacular views of Kirkwood’s famous ridge line from Thimble Peak to Martin Point. Relax in a cozy lodge atmosphere featuring rustic American cuisine. End your day at the Wall Bar & Grill for après food, drink specials and live music on the weekends.​”​


In Heavenly Village at Kalani’s, 1001 Heavenly Village Way #26, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 (530) 544-6100

On the Mountain at Tamarack Lodge


In the Village at Inxpot and Rubicon Pizza Company

At the Ritz Carlton at the Chef’s Table at Manzanita

On the Mountain at tōst

Discover the Heavenly Traditions

Unbuckle at Tamarack: Unbuckle at Tamarack, rated as the No. 1 après ski party in North America by Forbes and confirmed by CNN Travel, is Lake Tahoe’s highest elevation après ski party featuring music, drinking, dancing and the lovely Heavenly Angels – ripping skiers by day and go-go dancers when the sun dips below the Sierra. Après takes place Thursday-Saturday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. with half- priced drinks and food specials and, exclusively on Fridays and Saturdays, a guest DJ, the Heavenly Angels, giveaways, and lots and lots of dancing, both inside and outdoors. New this season, check out the themed party weeks surrounding key holidays, like Mardi Gras, Spring Break and many more. So, unbuckle those ski boots and snowboard bindings, and take your après game to the next level!

Tamarack Live: New to Heavenly last season, Tamarack Live is an all new après experience at Tamarack Lodge featuring the region’s hottest bands for live music sets Monday-Wednesday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Kick back with drink and food specials starting at 3:30 p.m.

Tamarack Tailgate Parties: Don’t be afraid of missing your favorite NFL or basketball teams play because you’re up on the hill skiing/riding. The Tamarack Tailgate Parties on Sunday afternoons at Tamarack Lodge will feature drink specials, large TVs showing the games, and the Heavenly Angels. Now there’s no reason to choose between two of your favorite sports.

Heavenly Concert Series: Starting in January Heavenly will host a series of outdoor concerts at the top of the Gondola, outside Tamarack Lodge. Featuring regional headliners, the Heavenly Concert Series will be from 1:00-3:00 p.m. on select Saturdays throughout the season.

DJ Cat: Heavenly upped the ante in December 2013 by partnering with Aaron Hagar to retrofit a retired grooming machine into a custom- built mobile DJ station, complete with 52 high-output speakers, provided by Kicker Audio, and 1,200 watts of power. The DJ cat will be bringing the party to the mountain in various locations all season long.

The Gunbarrel 25: If endurance is your pursuit, don’t miss out on the 12th Annual Gunbarrel 25 on April 1st, Heavenly’s famous mogul run. Northstar Daily Traditions

Discover Luxury Platinum at Northstar

More about the Northstar Platinum Pass: More Snow, all season Long. Maximize your time on the mountain and skip the lift line with unlimited Platinum Priority lift-line access all season long. Platinum Passes are available for purchase at the ticket window or by calling 1-800-GONORTH. Passes are available for $2,500 per person.

Platinum Day Access: Maximize your time on the mountain and skip the lift line with unlimited Platinum Priority lift-line access for a single day. Platinum Passes are available for purchase at the ticket window or by calling 1-800-GONORTH. Day passes are available for $150 per person.

Platinum Private: Experience the mountain the way it should be by immersing yourself in the Platinum Private Lesson experience. Book now

Platinum Valet Parking: Reserved Platinum Parking guarantees a parking spot in the Platinum Parking Lot adjacent to the Northstar Village. Skip the traffic jams and get right to the summit. Spaces are available by booking at least 24hours in advance for $100 per day. Book now

Platinum Club: Hot coffee, warm ski boots, and tasty cookies!! Don’t struggle to the slopes, stroll with ease thanks to our exclusive slope-side lounge area.  Store your gear in a private locker with boot dryers, get overnight ski and board tuning, and relax with premium coffee and snacks before or after your run.  Club Access is available for the full season for multi-day segments. Book now S’mores: Ooey-gooey s’mores decent upon the Village at 3:30 pm for kids and adults who can’t resist — we recommend giving in to temptation.

Platinum Tōst: Tahoe with a few friends, an epic view and a bit of bubbly. Share a special experience at our tōst mountain view bar with private seating, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, a charcuterie board that will surpass your wildest imagination and a warm fire.  Platinum Tōst is offered daily and is available by reservation at least 24hours in advance. Reserve your experience for $85per person today. Book now

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Where is the best skiing in Lake Tahoe?

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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