Sierra Ski Resort

Everyone should experience the magnificent views of Lake Tahoe and desolation wilderness from 8,852 feet (2,655 m). At Sierra you can do just that. but sierra is also known for its fine tree skiing, good value, and weather-protected season. With an average annual snowfall of 420 inches (1,067 cm) you’re virtually guaranteed a good season any year.

Sierra-at-Tahoe has been operating since 1947, when it was just a modest ski hill. Today it has matured into one of Lake Tahoe’s best ski areas, sharing a lift pass with Alpine Meadows, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar-at-Tahoe, and Squaw Valley. Most visitors to Sierra stay in South Lake Tahoe, 12 miles (19 km) by road, and other towns surrounding Lake Tahoe. There’s no lodgings at the Base Lodge at Sierra, which is just a day lodge with restaurants and a daycare facility. In 2003 an additional access road improved the arrival and departure for cars and shuttle buses, and there’s a new “Preferred Parking” area right next to the slopes, which will provide a much shorter walk to the car at the end of a day’s hard work. Enhanced snowmaking capabilities have been added to the Superpipe, enabling Sierra to open its pipe earlier in the season than most other resorts.

Sierra Ski Area

Sierra offers varied terrain for all levels of skiers and riders around its 2,000 acres.

In total there are 46 trails accessed by 12 lifts, with a 2.5- mile (4-km) beginner trail, Sugar 'n' Spice, from the summit. What's different about Sierra, though, is that there are also 600 acres (243 ha) of backcountry skiing and riding accessed via five backcountry gates. For US$25 you can get instruction for advanced skiers from a ski patrol guide.

Sierra Ski Lifts & Lift Passes

There are 12 lifts operating 8:30 am to 4:00 pm on weekends and holidays, and from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm on weekdays.

The lifts consist of three Express quads, one triple chair, five double chairs, one surface lift and two magic carpets for children.

Sierra Beginner Skiing

Sierra is one of the few resorts with a beginner trail that leads from the summit to the base of the mountain.

Sugar 'n' Spice is a 2.5-mile (4-km) cruiser off the Grandview Express quad chairlift. It's a truly fantastic way to cut your teeth on the art of skiing and allows beginners to really experience what it's like to stand on the top of a mountain without being terrified! As well as Sugar 'n' Spice there's Wagon Trail, another green trail reached from El Dorado double chairlift, which leads around the edge of the mountain and joins up with Sugar 'n' Spice to the base, or via Upper Main, Corkscrew, Echo, and Lower Sleighride to the base.

Sierra Intermediate Skiing

Half the trails at Sierra are blues, for intermediate skiers and riders.

For a good long trail take the Grandview Express quad to the summit and ski across to Smokey or Coyote beyond El Dorado double lift. Then join on with Wagon Trail green trail to the blue Upper Sleighride, then Marmot and drop into Beaver in the West Bowl. Take the West Bowl Express for some more blues: Upper Powderhorn, Bashful, Pyramid, and Lower Powderhorn.

Sierra Advanced and Expert Skiing

With 25 percent of the mountain as black diamond trails, advanced skiers have a good choice of skiing and riding.

Preacher's Passion off the Tahoe King double chair is probably the hardest trail-it's steep, long, and has the option of trees the whole way down. This trail is also really good for snowboarding as there are no flats. Avalanche Bowl is a powder playground, and Upper Dynamite and Jackrabbit are two of the expert's favorites on a powder day. If you want to escape the crowds you can ski off the trails, such as between Coyote and Smokey on the Backside, or find the less-crowded blues-Marmot is often quieter than other blues.

For advanced skiers and riders, backcountry tours explore Sierra's steepest terrain-considered locally as some of the region's best. Five backcountry gates provide access to forests and some of the steepest terrain found in the region. The cost for a 3.5-hour backcountry tour is US$25 in addition to a lift pass. Tours are led by professional ski patrol staff and include a briefing on safety procedures and proper use of avalanche transceivers. Reservations are required. Each registered person must participate in a skills assessment test to determine proficiency.

Sierra Boarding & Freestyle

There are five terrain parks at Sierra, catering to all ability levels of skier and snowboarder, and each has a sound system, making them popular places to just hang out.

Enhanced snowmaking was added in 2003 to the 17-foot (5-m) Superpipe. The Superpipe is groomed nightly.

Sierra Mountain Restaurants

Sierra is consistently recognized for having good food at reasonable prices.

The Grandview Grill at the summit has breathtaking views over Lake Tahoe and Desolation Wilderness. Watch the colors of Lake Tahoe changing with the movement of the sun while filling up on burgers, tortilla wraps, East-meets-West entrées, and something from the bar. The summit of the West Bowl area has a new hospitality tent stocked with sandwiches, snacks, and drinks.

At the Base Lodge there's a choice of eating establishments: the Aspen Café has entrées, fries, and Mexican selections; Cheeseburgers in Paradise does just what it says; the Sierra Pub has pizza, sandwiches, nachos, and alcohol; Java Junction does specialty coffee and snacks.

Sierra Resort

There is no real village atmosphere at Sierra.

The Base Lodge has restaurants and a daycare center, but for accommodations and après ski you have to go to South Lake Tahoe or one of the other towns around Lake Tahoe.

Sierra Bars & Restaurants

The Sierra pub is your only option for immediate apres ski.

It has live music, food and drinks specials. In South Lake Tahoe there are around 90 restaurants, bars and, of course, casino nightlife in the main casinos, where there's usually a show or cabaret being performed, not to mention the slots. The restaurant choices in the town cover coffee shops through Chinese, Italian, Mexican, to sandwich shops. For further information on bars and restaurants, visit South Lake Tahoe's website, www.southlaketahoe.com.

Sierra Other Activities

Tubing, snowshoeing, and snowtoys are all fun alternatives to skiing and snowboarding.

Tubing at Sierra is probably one of the highest thrill activities available. The lanes cover 425 feet (127 m) of high-banked turns and rollers, and a slick, quick surface. Tubing lanes are open daily, weather and conditions permitting. The cost is US$15 per person for two hours, which includes tube rental and access to the rope tow that carries the tube and its rider to the top of the hill.

Did you know that snowshoeing is recognized among fitness experts as one of the most effective cardiovascular activities, burning off a hefty 550-750 calories per hour! Sierra maintains three miles (5 km) of scenic, groomed snowshoe trails below the Base Lodge. Interpretive signs lining the trail system explain wildlife and other interesting facts about the Sierra Nevada mountains. Snowshoe rentals are available for US$15 per two hours.

For a new twist, hit the slopes on a snowbike or snowscoot. Snowbikes are a high-thrill, low-skill activity. In place of tires are two mini skis that skim the surface of the snow. The rider grabs the handlebars and steers downhill. The snowscoot is a crazy adaptation of the foot-propelled scooter, and accomplished users even pull tricks in the halfpipe and terrain parks.

Sierra Rating
  • Ski Area star rating
  • Snowsure star rating
  • Advanced star rating
  • Intermediates star rating
  • Beginners star rating
  • Ski Lift System star rating
  • Lift Queues star rating
  • Scenery star rating
  • Resort Charm star rating
  • Apres Ski star rating
  • Non-Skiers star rating
  • Getting There star rating
  • Sierra Statistics
  • CountryUSA
  • StateCalifornia
  • Beginner25 %
  • Intermediate50 %
  • Advanced25 %
  • Number of ski lifts9
  • Surface lifts3
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