10 Things You Can Only Do at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Best U.S. Ski Resort: Squaw Valley!
We asked USA TODAY 10Best readers to vote for their favorite ski resort in the U.S., and Squaw Valley Resort in California's Olympic Valley earned the most votes and took home the title. So what makes this resort a winner? Come along as we take a look at 10 awesome experiences on offer at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.
With an annual average of 450 inches of snowfall and 300 sunny days, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is usually open later into the spring season than any other resort in Lake Tahoe. Slapstick events like the Cushing Crossing and Pain McShlonkey Classic bring outrageous costumes onto the mountain and fundraise for good causes. Work on your goggle tan late into the day: after daylight savings time, California sun pours down onto famed après hangouts like Le Chamois well into the evening.
Each year around the third week in March, Squaw Valley clears the snow off the decks of the giant jacuzzi tub at High Camp and declares itself once again the spring skiing capital, inviting spring revelers to trade their skis for bikinis and join the High Camp Hot Tub party at 8,200 feet. The tub-side Umbrella Bar serves up cold beers and icy cocktails to cool down the sun-drenched soakers, who can take in the spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. On select dates, a DJ or live band sets up adjacent to the Umbrella Bar, and bumps tunes throughout the afternoon. Not a skier? Hopping on the Aerial Tram in the Village at Squaw Valley takes you straight to High Camp. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
Slide up to the Ice Bar tucked away on the backside of Alpine Meadows and soak up the casual, inviting ambiance usually reserved for the beach. Skiers and riders cruising down the Pacific Crest South Bowls on Alpine Meadows' remote backside enjoy stunning views of Lake Tahoe as they pull up to the Ice Bar, located at the base of Sherwood Chair. A popular destination on sunny spring days, Ice Bar patrons kick back in lounge chairs with a cold beverage and hot barbecued bratwurst and enjoy the feeling of being completely away from it all.
The ultimate guided tour, offering unrivaled access to the resort’s most coveted terrain and secret stashes for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. Offered in partnership with The North Face, these non-instructional tours are led by the resort’s most experienced guides, whose extensive knowledge of the terrain rivals that of the resorts’ ski patrollers. In addition to priority lift line access, participants also receive a complimentary ThermoBall™ Jacket from The North Face or other branded items, and great après ski discounts. The North Face Mountain Guides are open to adults and teens ages 13+, intermediate through expert.
Have you ever wanted to relive those epic moments on the slopes? Now you can! Get a custom highlight reel of yourself shredding, all shot by drone technology, with Lake Tahoe in the background. Squaw Valley is only the second ski resort in North America to work with Cape Productions to offer guests this one-of-a-kind hero experience that they can take home. (Click here to see some sample footage)
Serious about first chair? Get on the lifts at Squaw Valley before anyone else for first tracks down untouched powder or perfectly groomed corduroy depending on the day's conditions. The sunrise over Lake Tahoe isn't too shabby either.
The resort's 6,000 acres of skiable terrain are a lot to process. Plan your day the easy way with the zone map, with terrain groupings designed to help you personalize your experience. Zone descriptions include terrain details, highlights, difficulty level, and directions to get to the zone easily. The zones are easy to explore on the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows website or on the go with the mobile app.
After the mountain closes and the winter moon rises, experience a snowshoe tour to the mid-mountain Chalet at Alpine Meadows. Enjoy an intimate seated dinner where you'll be served an Alps-inspired menu with dishes like potato cheese soup, chicken cordon bleu and apple strudel. This unique experience is only available for 50 guests and available during select dates during the winter season.
Learn to ski on 30 acres of mountain top beginner terrain with views of Lake Tahoe. Most beginners get stuck at the base of the mountain, but not here. A dedicated learning zone, specially designed terrain features and an active teaching philosophy encourage natural progression and eliminate the intimidating hurdles of skiing and snowboarding.
Ride the scenic Aerial Tram and lace up your skates at the mountain top Olympic Ice Pavilion, while taking in views of Lake Tahoe all around. After you’ve finished your pirouettes, check out the Olympic Museum at High Camp, a tribute to the historic 1960 Olympics hosted at Squaw Valley.