Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort

Palisades Tahoe is the birthplace of American extreme skiing and a mecca for freestyle skiers and riders. But don't be put off if your style is more sedate or family oriented: this resort also boasts gentle mountain-top beginner terrain as well as mountain-top ice-skating and swimming.

Nestled at the end of a stunning alpine valley, Palisades Tahoe lies cradled by six Sierra peaks dominated by Squaw Peak at 8,900 feet (2,715 m). Palisades is historic: it famously played host to the 1960 Winter Olympic Games (the first to be televised), and Palisades Tahoe’s Olympic heritage continues to be evident throughout the resort. The symbolic Tower of Nations and Olympic Flame still greet visitors at the entrance to the Valley, and Alexander Cushing, Squaw Valley Palisades Tahoe’s Founder, provided the vision and character by which Palisades Tahoe became, and continues to be, famous. Many wonder how he convinced the International Olympic Committee to select a town with no mayor and a ski resort with just one chairlift, two rope tows and a fifty-room lodge, but convince them he did, and the rest is history.

Since then, Palisades has become one of the top destination resorts in the U.S. and attracts skiers and riders who like to push the limits. In 1984, ski filmmaker Warren Miller caught Scot Schmidt jumping 100 feet (30 m) from the cliff band at the top of Palisades Peak to give birth to “Schmidiots” and extreme skiing. Since then, freestyle athletes, including the late and beloved Shane McConkey, the Gaffney brothers, Jeremy Jones, Cody Townsend, Michelle Parker and Ingrid Backstrom have famously hurled themselves off Palisades’ many cornices and rock faces. Alongside these freestyle athletes, downhill and mogul Olympians including Julia Mancuso, Jonny Moseley, Travis Ganong, Tamara McKinney and Shannon Bahrke, have and continue to call Palisades Tahoe home.

In 2011, Squaw Valley merged with the well-known neighboring ski resort, Alpine Meadows, becoming Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows resort. In 2021 the Squaw Alpine resort was rebranded Palisades Tahoe as the term “squaw” has long been used as a derogatory and dehumanizing reference to a Native American woman. The new name, Palisades Tahoe, celebrates the granite walls throughout each ski area, and the mountain is continuing to work with the Washoe Tribe to educate the public about their culture and the valley’s history. The Squaw Valley base area has been renamed Olympic Valley and in April 2021 construction crews started work on the foundations for the Tahoe region’s first-ever base-to-base gondola, connecting the Palisade Tahoe Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows base areas. The new 8-passenger gondola (opening in the ’22-’23 winter season) will provide up to 1,400 riders per hour with an easy 16-minutes ride from one base station to the other with the option to disembark at the KT-22 mid station. Although it will not open additional skiable terrain, one lift ticket will give you access to both locations, each with phenomenal terrain.

The sheer depth and density of the snow in Tahoe is another unique feature that gives some measure of control to even the wackiest stunts. If an ample 4,000 acres (1,620 ha) of bowl skiing doesn’t turn you on, then how about mountain-top ice skating and swimming which, at the Swimming Lagoon & Spa at High Camp (over 8,000 feet/2,450 m) overlooking Lake Tahoe, is free with all daily lift tickets.

Palisades Tahoe Ski Area

Palisades Tahoe primarily offers wide-open bowl skiing with a number of traditional groomed ski trails. The ski area is famous for terrain ranging from the tamest to the toughest.

It's not unusual to hear a first-time skier at Palisades ask "Where are all the trails?" and it's true that Palisades offers more wide-open bowl skiing than traditional, named ski trails. (European skiers will be more familiar with this type of terrain than U.S. skiers.) The vast lift-served acreage is the fifth largest U.S. resort, and locals actively use lifts and major rocks/cliffs as a reference. The area offers 25 percent beginner, 45 percent intermediate and 30 percent expert terrain, encompassing 16 open bowls and well over 100 runs. The highest elevation is 9,050 feet (2,758 m) while the lowest elevation is 6,200 feet (1,889 m) – that’s a vertical drop of 2,850 feet (868 m).

Something for everyone

The ski area is famous for terrain ranging from the tamest to the toughest. The high peaks and bowls are treeless, but lower down much of the terrain is lightly wooded. Skiers and snowboarders will delight in the variety. The steep chutes and dynamic descents of KT-22 (22 kick turns to make it down safely) beckon the wild freeskiers while miles of groomed trails and wide-open mountain bowls for cruising cradle the novice. And two beginner areas (one at peak level, one at base level) satisfy all other levels of skier. Mix-in long intermediate cruisers, expanded terrain parks, halfpipes and panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, and Palisades Tahoe is surely a must-visit ski destination.

Ski safety

The more advanced “expert only” skiing is not for adventurous intermediates nor for the foolhardy, who could easily find themselves in serious difficulty (or worse!) with cliffs and potentially fatal falls waiting for the unwary. Just about everything is visible from the lifts, but newcomers wishing to venture into unfamiliar expert sections are well advised to join an Advanced Ski Clinic or find a guide. There’s no need for beginners and intermediates to be put off by Palisades’ reputations for extreme, though: the ski area is well marked with a variety of safety markers including “slow” signs, ropes, bamboo poles and markers that explain a range of the terrain’s characteristics. In addition, members of the Ski Patrol regularly ski the mountain to ensure the safety of guests and offer assistance if needed.

Snow conditions

Lack of snow is not going to be a problem here. Not only does Palisades get 450” of snow on average each season, but the mountain has also invested more than $8 million over the last decade in its state-of-the-art snowmaking system. The artificial snow system includes over 500 snowmaking guns-some fixed, others portable, allowing the snowmaking crew to make snow in areas beyond the normal coverage zones – and it covers roughly seven miles (11 km) or 10 percent of the mountain's terrain. The season here is exceptionally long (November to end of May) and sometimes the resort is open July 4th weekend when conditions permit.

Night skiing

Night skiing is an additional big draw, available on the 3.2-mile (5-km) mountain run and in the Riviera halfpipe and terrain park. Night operations are generally open mid-December through mid-March. Lift access is via the aerial cable car and the Riviera chairlift.

Palisades Tahoe Ski Lifts & Lift Passes

The advanced lift system in Palisades Tahoe is carefully designed to provide two ways to access every area of terrain.

With one of the most advanced lift networks in North America, the layout of Palisades Tahoe is carefully designed so that there are always two ways to access every area of terrain, cutting down the time that you might wait in line. Palisades has 34 lifts, including a recently modernized 110-passenger Aerial tram and a powerful 28-passenger Funitel – only the fourth of its kind in the world and the only one in North America.

At Olympic Valley, there are 21 lifts, including six high-speed six-person chairs, two high-speed quads, one fixed-grip quad, eight triples, four doubles, one rope tow and 5 magic carpets. At Alpine, there are 11 lifts, including one high-speed six-person chair, three high-speed quads, two triples, five doubles and two magic carpets. In total, the mountain can move an impressive 49,000 people per hour. Most lifts run 9am-4pm, with a handful at Olympic closing at 3:30pm. Start time is 8:30 am on weekends and holidays, and 9:00 am all other days. Lifts shut at 4:00 pm for regular lifts and 9:00 pm for night operations.

To maximize your time on the slopes, Palisades Tahoe has cleverly designed the lift network so that there is often a variety of alternative ways to access each area of terrain. So, when a line begins to form at one lift, you should look around: there is likely to be another lift close by that does not have a wait.

Palisades Tahoe Lift Passes

Palisades Tahoe, with access to both Olympic and Alpine ski areas, is accessible with either Ikon or Mountain Collective programs. Day tickets or multi-day passes can also be purchased either online or at resort ticket windows or retail shops at the base of the mountains. There are discounts available to active duty and veteran military members, and seniors over the age of 80 ski free. There are several ticket booths conveniently located at the base of the resort and in the cable car lobby. Tickets can also be purchased in conjunction with lodgings packages.

Maximizing time spent on Palisade Tahoe's slopes

Busy holidays and some popular weekends are the only times noticeable lines can appear at ticket booths. To alleviate the waiting time for ticket purchasing, Ski Corp will often have a cash-only line that moves significantly faster than lines where credit cards are being used.

In order to maximize your time on the slopes, Squaw Valley has cleverly designed the lift network so that there is often a variety of alternative ways to access each area of terrain. So, when a line begins to form at one lift, you should look around: there is likely to be another lift close by that does not have a wait.

Palisades Tahoe Beginner Skiing

Palisades Tahoe’s beginner skiing is located on the resort’s upper mountain. Beginners will enjoy getting the same exciting mountain experience and spectacular views as more advanced skiers and snowboarders.

The resort's easiest terrain is located on the resort's upper mountain and is accessed by the aerial cable car. This beginner area features five easy chairlifts in a wide open, gently sloping bowl overlooking Lake Tahoe. Big Blue Express offers access to the longest beginner runs, while Mountain Meadow and Bailey’s Beach access shorter trails. Being located on the upper mountain means beginners get the same exciting mountain experience as more advanced skiers and snowboarders: they enjoy the same spectacular panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra as well as feel the freedom and serenity of being high up in the mountains.

There’s a small beginner area over at the base of Alpine, which includes two chairs and two magic carpets.

Palisades Tahoe Intermediate Skiing

Palisades Tahoe intermediate skiers and snowboarders love the 3.2-mile (5-km) Mountain Run, cruising from the upper mountain all the way down to the Base Village.

Palisades Tahoe's reputation as an expert's playground overshadows the fact that the resort has some excellent blue terrain, much of it with outstanding views of Lake Tahoe in the distance.

You can test your skills on Olympic Valley’s Siberia Bowl, considered an advanced intermediate area of terrain. From the Base Area, ride Red Dog to connect to Resort Chair for some warm-up cruisers. Then begin working your way to the right of the tail map, by taking the Funitel or Wa She Shu Express to the wide-open bowls of Gold Coast and the very popular Shirley Lake area.

At Alpine, almost every chair provides access to intermediate terrain, including all the major lifts at the base. Once the frontside of the mountain gets covered in shade, head over to the Lakeview Chair to lap the wide-open blues in the afternoon sun – you will be rewarded for each lap you take with the incredible views of Lake Tahoe from the top of the chair.

Palisades Tahoe Advanced & Expert Skiing

Palisades Tahoe's expert skiing has a well-earned and fearsome reputation. Often referred to as Palisade Tahoe's crown jewel, the KT-22 peak offers famous pitches with steep terrain, tight chutes and an excellent variety of bowl skiing.

KT-22: Palisade Tahoe's Crown Jewel

Look no further than the famous pitches off the KT-22 peak and chairlift for steep terrain, tight chutes and an excellent variety of bowl skiing. This peak is often referred to as Palisades Tahoe's crown jewel, and virtually every inch of KT-22's terrain will thrill and challenge even the most seasoned skier and snowboarder. Other advanced terrain includes Headwall, Granite Chief, Broken Arrow and the Silverado Bowl. The toughest skiing includes Moseley's Run, a land of monster bumps and jelly legs named after Gold-medal Olympian Jonny Moseley; and McConkey’s, at the very top of KT-22 with its 68 degrees pitch it, named after the legendary Shane McConkey, who pioneered wide skis. Due to the area’s unique weather system, snow on the steeps stay cold and hard in between storms, so if you want to test your endurance, this is it: skiers and snowboarders are confronted by a non-stop 2,000 feet (609 m) vertical descent down the slope's steep fall line that will get the adrenaline pumping.

Red Dog, Poulsen's Gully and the Funitel

On a classic Californian bluebird powder day, the line at KT-22 starts forming before the sun rises: the sensation of powering first tracks on the peak's bevy of perfect pitches is truly the experience of a lifetime. Those who don't want to climb into the powder circus KT-22 creates can veer left to the Red Dog chairlift and discover the often-overlooked glory found in Poulsen's Gully or ride the Funitel to the upper mountain where Headwall, Broken Arrow and Granite Chief await. The powder gets skied out fast at Palisades Tahoe, so powder hounds should plan to get out early to make the most of the experience.

Palisades Tahoe Classic Ski Itinerary

Start from the base area and head straight for KT-22. Considered one of the greatest chairlifts in North America, it rises from the base directly to an expert skiers' paradise. After a few non-stop adventures in powder heaven, move further up the mountain to the bowls, chutes and gullies of Headwall and Cornice II. Then head over to the Broken Arrow peak, where it's easy to drop in and discover some of Squaw's most sought-after and secret pitches and powder stashes

Advanced Ski Clinics & Personal Tours

Incidentally, the resort does not permit out-of-bounds skiing or riding. Nor does it offer "guides"; however, you can sign up for one of Squaw Valley's Advanced Ski Clinics, where instructors offer helpful lessons for improving skills while exploring all the exciting advanced and expert terrain Squaw Valley has to offer. Also, many skiers and snowboarders who want a personal tour opt for a private lesson, where they get some tips, tricks and a personal guide all in one.

Palisades Tahoe Boarding & Freestyle

Palisades Tahoe has three dedicated terrain parks with two halfpipes and the area boasts tabletops, rails, fun boxes, volcanoes and other features depending on conditions.

While all 4,000 acres (1,619 ha) of Palisades Tahoe's mountain might be considered one giant terrain fun park, Palisades Tahoe has three dedicated terrain parks with two halfpipes. Under the Riviera Lift is a terrain park with huge tabletop jumps, a quarterpipe, various rails and a 500-foot (152 m) long halfpipe with 12-inch (30 cm) walls. Between the Gold Coast and Siberia chairlifts is the Mainline Terrain Park and the 400-foot (122 m) Superpipe with 17-inch (43 cm) walls. This area also features tabletops, rails, fun boxes, volcanoes and other features depending on conditions. The Riviera Park is open for both day and night boarding (night operations are 4:00-9:00 pm, weather permitting) and is loaded with a state-of-the-art sound system and a dedicated chairlift. It's all very easy for the boarder to get around, and the vast lift network means not much traversing is necessary.

Palisades Tahoe Mountain Restaurants

Palisades Tahoe’s 31 restaurants range from sit-down to self-service to fast food and vary in price and style from inexpensive and casual to fine dining.

There are six on-mountain dining options at including the Arc and Funi’s at Gold Coast and Granit Bistro and Terrace Restaurant at High Camp. Separately, the Resort at Squaw Creek at the base of the Resort Chair has an excellent ski-up deck and outdoor BBQ, weather permitting. At Alpine, there are two on-mountain restaurants (The Chalet and Ice Bar) and multiple dining and bar areas within the large Alpine Base Lodge. There is also an all-day café next to the Subway Chair (beginner’s area)


Palisades Tahoe Village

Palisades Tahoe Village is small and feels almost European, and offers visitors everything they would need to make a stay at Palisades Tahoe Mountain Resort a fantastic experience.

The Village

The Village is small, with around a dozen or so main buildings, and has the close-knit feel of a quaint European village. It's the ski area that draws visitors though, not the village. The 2001/02 season marked the transformation of Squaw Valley into a true four-season recreation destination, with major new developments by Intrawest. Highlighting the changes was the grand opening of Phase One (of 4) of the much-anticipated 13-acre village, estimated to cost around US$250 million.

First Ascent

Phase One, called First Ascent, brought new slopeside lodgings, shopping and eateries to the resort's base area. It has dramatically changed the face of Squaw Valley by adding three buildings, including 139 mountain-side condominiums, 19 stores and restaurants, and approximately 250 underground parking spaces.

22 Station

Phase Two of the project, named 22 Station, was completed in 2003. The European-style village includes 640 lodgings units and 80 boutique stores, restaurants and galleries. These have redefined the resort and gone some way in meeting the need for more accommodations within Squaw Valley.


Palisades Tahoe Apres Ski Bars & Restaurants

A wide selection of restaurants offer everything from fast food to Asian tapas, sit-down to self-service and varying in price and style from inexpensive and casual to fine dining.

There are 25 dining options in the Olympic Village base area including bars, restaurants, cafes, crepe stands and food trucks.

For après, check out KT Base Bar, which is bathed in sun until it sets and offers the best view of the mountain along with an excellent local beer selection. Le Chamois (The Chammy) and The Loft Bar are the old-timer "local" apres-ski hangout. Bar One has live music, dancing and pool tables, while the Plaza Bar is the hang out for sports fans, with sporting events on the big-screen TV. For a more intimate après ski experience, the bar at the PlumpJack Inn has a cozy fireplace and an excellent selection of wine. (Their selection of hard-to-find Californian wines and extensive wines by the glass program have garnered critical acclaim and a loyal following.)

Nearby in Tahoe City, you will find Pete 'n' Peter's and the Bridgetender. Further north on the lake in Carnelian Bay, check out Gar Woods and with its famous Wet Woody drink and Lakeside dining. In Truckee, check out Casa Baeza and the Tourist Club.

Palisades Tahoe Other Activities

Off the slopes in Palisades Tahoe, winter fun includes mountain-top ice-skating, snowtubing, shopping and dining—all overlooking Lake Tahoe.

Off the slopes in Palisades Tahoe, winter fun includes mountain-top ice-skating, snowtubing, shopping and dining-all overlooking Lake Tahoe-and in the spring, swimming at the High Camp Swimming Lagoon & Spa. Only at this resort can you ski or snowboard all morning and relax poolside at over 8,000 feet (2,440 m) looking down over Lake Tahoe. On the lower mountain try the indoor climbing wall, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides and dogsled tours in the Squaw Valley Meadow, or rejuvenate yourself at one of the relaxing health and fitness spas.


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