Skiing in Palisades Tahoe

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.

Palisades Tahoe Ski Area Overview

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 ski 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).

ThePalisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley) 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.

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.

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 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.

Beginner Skiing in Palisades Tahoe

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.

Intermediate Skiing in Palisades Tahoe

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.

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Palisades Tahoe

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.

Boarding & Freestyle in Palisades Tahoe

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.

Mountain Restaurants in Palisades Tahoe

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)


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