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
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.
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,
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
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.