Squaw Valley Ski Area
Squaw Valley is unique in the U.S. as it offers wide-open bowl skiing rather than traditional, named ski trails and 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 Squaw ask "Where
are all the trails?" and it's true that Squaw is unique in the U.S.
as it offers wide-open bowl skiing rather than traditional, named
ski trails. The vast lift-served acreage is the fifth largest U.S.
resort and you are actively encouraged to use the lifts as a
reference. Lifts are rated beginner, intermediate and advanced,
based on the type of terrain that they access. In that respect, 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
This 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 Squaw Valley 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 Squaw's reputations for ski
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, since Squaw has
invested over US$8 million over the last decade in its
state-of-the-art snowmaking system which enhances natural snow
conditions and ensures consistent snow coverage. 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 some 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 for 4th of July weekend (two days only) but only
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
Squaw Valley Ski Lifts & Lift Passes
The advanced lift system in Squaw Valley 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 Squaw Valley 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. Squaw has 34 lifts, including a
recently modernized 110-passenger cable car and a powerful
28-passenger Funitel-only the fourth of its kind in the world and
the only one in North America, replacing the Super Gondola.
Squaw also has one Pulse Gondola, three new high-speed six-pacs
(six-passenger detachable lifts), four high-speed quads, one fixed
quad, eight triples, ten doubles, three surface and two magic
carpets. Put another way, that's a capacity of 49,000 people per
hour. 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.
Squaw Valley lift passes
Lift pass prices include all-day tickets with free night skiing
at US$58, afternoon from 1:00 pm at US$42, and night skiing (from
4:00-9:00 pm) at $20. If you're over 76 then you go free; 65-75 and
13-15 year-olds pay US$29 (photo ID is generally required for proof
of age). Children aged 12 and under ski and ride for only US$5 a
day. There's a beginners' lift ticket only available in conjunction
with the First Time Beginner Package (available for both skiers and
snowboarders), which includes rental equipment, a beginner
(limited) lift ticket, and a two-hour beginner lesson for $69. For
deal-seekers there is the "Frequent Skier Club Plus," which gives
you every fifth day free-you can join the club for US$5.
There are several ticket booths conveniently located at the base
of the resort and in the cable car lobby. Tickets are also
available for purchase in all Ski Corp rental shops (Ski Rental,
Alternative Edge Snowboard Rental and the Far East Rental Center.)
Day tickets can be purchased online at www.squawshop.com and they
may also be purchased in conjunction with lodgings packages through
Squaw Valley Central Reservations.
Maximizing time spent on Squaw Valley'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.
Squaw Valley Beginner Skiing
Squaw Valley’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. 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.
Papoose Learning Area
The newest beginner area, the Papoose Learning Area is located on the lower mountain at a 6,200-foot (1,890-m) elevation. It offers beginners more terrain as well as a second option when inclement weather and wind affects visibility and operations on the upper mountain. This area features two new pony tows (surface lifts) and is conveniently located adjacent to the Far East Center, complete with a rental store, retail store, lockers, ticket sales and rest rooms.
Squaw Valley Intermediate Skiing
Squaw Valley 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.
Squaw Valley's reputation as an expert's playground overshadows the fact that the resort has some excellent blue terrain, much of it with an outstanding views of Lake Tahoe in the distance.
You can test your skills on the upper mountain's Siberia Bowl, considered an advanced intermediate area of terrain. From the Base Area, ride Red Dog and Squaw Creek for some warm-up cruisers. Then begin working your way up the mountain via the Funitel or Squaw One Express to the wide-open bowls of Gold Coast, and move on to the very popular Shirley Lake area.
Squaw Valley Expert Skiing
Squaw Valley's expert skiing has a well-earned and fearsome reputation. Often referred to as Squaw Valley's crown jewel, the KT-22 peak offers famous pitches with steep terrain, tight chutes and an excellent variety of off-piste skiing.
KT-22: Squaw Valley'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 off-piste skiing. This peak is often referred to as Squaw Valley'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; it's the flagship of KT's fleet of double black diamond terrain. Bumps on the steep slope stay cold, hard and gullied into massive mounds, storm-to-storm. 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. Originally called the West Face (strange, because it doesn't face west at all) it was renamed on February 27, 1998, in recognition of Jonny Moseley's lifelong commitment to Squaw Valley, freestyle skiing and his winning the gold at the Olympics in Nagano.
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 Squaw Valley, so powder hounds should plan to get out early to make the most of the experience.
Squaw Valley 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 and 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.
Squaw Valley Boarding & Freestyle
Squaw Valley 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 Squaw Valley's mountain
might be considered one giant terrain fun park, Squaw Valley 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.
Squaw Valley Mountain Restaurants
Squaw Valley’s 40 restaurants (including delis) range from sit-down to self-service to fast food and vary in price and style from inexpensive and casual to fine dining.
Whatever your fancy-Mexican, Italian, pizza, sandwiches, salads,
wraps, crêpes, soups, hamburgers, deli or full-service
breakfast-you'll find it in Squaw Valley. The most popular
breakfast is at Mother Barclay's, the juiciest burger is at the Red
Dog Bar & Grill, and the best French fries are at the Gordon
Biersch Sundeck Tavern.
The Resort at Squaw Creek has an excellent ski-up deck and
outdoor BBQ, weather permitting.
Squaw Valley Resort
Squaw Valley Village is small and feels almost European, but the past few years have seen the area's transformation into what will eventually be a four-season recreation destination.
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.
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.
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.
Squaw Valley Bars & Restaurants
A wide selection of restaurants offer everything from fast food to Asian tapas.
Squaw Valley's 40 restaurants (including delis) range from
sit-down to self-service to fast food and vary in price and style
from inexpensive and casual to fine dining. If it's the wines you
fancy, try the PlumpJack Café. Their selection of hard-to-find
Californian wines and extensive wines by the glass program have
garnered critical acclaim and a loyal following. The Zenbu Tapas
Lounge is the most popular place for Asian food
There are 22 bars to choose from in Squaw Valley, most catering
to the 25-35 crowd (and you have to be 21 or over to consume
alcohol in California). Children are allowed in bars that also
serve food. Bars close at 2:00 am.
Squaw Valley Apres-Ski
The Loft Bar is the old-timer "local" apres-ski hangout and the
Red Dog Bar and Grill is a favorite with Squaw Valley employees.
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 apres ski experience, the bar at
the PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn has a cozy fireplace and an
excellent selection of wine.
The newest apres-ski spot in the Squaw scene is the Balboa Cafe,
featuring tasty appetizers and a variety of beverage options. Look
for it to become a hot spot next season. Nearby in Tahoe City,
guests enjoy Pete 'n' Peter's, the Naughty Dawg and the
Bridgetender. In Truckee, Casa Baeza, O.B.'s Pub & Restaurant
and the Tourist Club are popular.
Squaw Valley Other Activities
Off the slopes in Squaw Valley, winter fun includes mountain-top ice-skating, snowtubing, shopping and dining—all overlooking Lake Tahoe.
Off the slopes in Squaw Valley, 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 a number of
relaxing health and fitness spas.