We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts

Which South Lake Tahoe hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
posts: 44
South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts


Our family is planning a trip to San Francisco in early december with the tentative itinerary SF 4 nights, Monterey 3 nights, Yosemite 2 nights and Lake Tahoe 3 nights.

We will be driving to Lake Tahoe from Yosemite and from Lake Tahoe we will be driving straight to SF airport for a midnight flight.

Hope you can help us with some queries :

1. Driving from Yosemite, we presume it is nearer and easier to get to South Lake Tahoe. We hope to do some skiing if there is snow. The question is which ski resort should be choose? - Heavenly Ski has been suggested as they have snow making machines which is useful early in the ski season. We have skied twice before with several lessons but we still beginners. Is this a wise choice?

2. If we choose to ski at Heavenly Ski Resort - where should we stay so we can get to the Ski resort easily? After reading around I still can't quite picture how best to get to the resort. Vague impression that the ski gondola goes straight into South Tahoe City. There is no accommodation in Heavenly Ski resort itself right?

3. Read somewhere that the NorthStar at North lake Tahoe is better for beginner skiers. How much further, compared to South Tahoe, is that from Yosemite and San Francisco Airport?

Appreciate your assistance in this stage of planning.



posts: 10,878
reviews: 12
1. Re: South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts

There are 3 ski resorts fairly easily accessible to people staying in South Lake Tahoe.

Last winter, so presumably this winter as well, Kirkwood offers a $20 ski shuttle from locations around South Lake Tahoe directly to the resort:


Sierra at Tahoe is just off highway 50 west of South Lake Tahoe. There is a complementary ski shuttle form South Lake Tahoe during the season. It does stop offering services before the end of the season so that is why you see the message that it is no longer operating but that only means that for the last season. It doesn’t mean they won’t start up again when the snow comes back.


Of course the easiest resort to use form South Lake Tahoe is Heavenly.

You can use the easy ski shuttle system if you are not staying within walking distance from the gondola which begins right on Lake Tahoe Blvd between the Marriott Timber Lodge and the Marriott Grand Residence. The gondola is also only step away from Embassy Suites which is next door to the Marriott Timber Lodge and Harrah’s which is next to Embassy. Harvey’s is across the street – you can use the underground tunnel between the two if the weather is bad – form Harrah’s. Additionally across the street from the gondola is Tahoe Park Inn.

If you don’t wish to be near state line you can stay at Tahoe Seasons Resort which is across the street from the California Base Lodge.

You can also stay up on the Ridge in a condo close to the Stagecoach Lodge.

Heavenly is accessible from all over. Here is a link to their map: http://www.skiheavenly.com/~/media/heavenly/files/trail%20map/2011-12trailmap.ashx

If you choose to go to Northstar – and since Heavenly & Northstar are now owned by Vail everyone is hopeful they will provide a shuttle between the two. If you come from Yosemite you will have to continue driving north after you get to the lake. But getting from Northstar to SF is a breeze, head down 267 to 80 and then 80 west to SF – freeway all the way.

Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
posts: 37,024
reviews: 345
2. Re: South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts

I would go on up to NorthStar at Tahoe rather than Heavenly. I do think it is much better for beginners.

Do look into Badger Pass at Yosemite though. It is where I learned to ski and I spent a lot of my youth there.

As to how long to get there It depends on which route you take and road conditions. It is probably 30-45 minutes longer to get TO North Lake Tahoe, but 30 minutes faster to San Francisco FROM North Lake Tahoe.

On the time factor, all bets are off it is snowing, North Lake could be shorter travel time with bad road conditions.

posts: 44
3. Re: South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts

Thank you Suzie and Scott for the very informative reply. Now I get the picture of South Lake Tahoe where one can reach all 3 ski resorts from there. With these input, we are likely to get to North Star instead, though there seems a higher chance of snow at Heavenly Ski Resort because of their snow machines - not sure if that is a right conclusion. At the moment our plan would be to book accommodation up to Yosemite and see the snow condition before deciding which resort to go to or to stay another day at Yosemite if Badger has snow. We are assuming that it is low season and it will jot be too difficult to find last minute accommodation at Lake Tahoe. would that be a feasible plan?


posts: 10,878
reviews: 12
4. Re: South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts

Norrthstar, Squaw , Boreal, Sugar Bowl... all make snow in addition to Heavenly. It's quite common.

You should be fine to find last minute accomodations at Tahoe in the beginning of December.

Edited: 1:33 pm, July 26, 2012
posts: 44
5. Re: South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts

Thanks Suzie for the reassurrance!


Laguna Beach, CA
posts: 478
reviews: 15
6. Re: South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts

All the major ski resorts around Lake Tahoe, Squaw, Alpine, Northstar, Sugar Bowl, etc make snow.

I really like the feel of the North Lake better than the South. The South feels overly commercialized.

Near Yosemite...
posts: 3,474
reviews: 6
7. Re: South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts

I am not real sure from your post if skiing is the primary purpose of the trip? Keep in mind that Northstar is a very nice place, but not really at Lake Tahoe. If you are interested in Lake Tahoe you might reconsider Heavenly. There are many more lodging options close to the Hevenly Gondola and there are many more activities, dining and nightlife available at the South Shore Lake Tahoe.

Everyone has their own favorite part of Lake Tahoe. As Suzie mentioned, you should have no trouble finding lodging at the last minute. This is probably the slowest time at Lake Tahoe-- unless there is a huge snowfall.

posts: 1,370
reviews: 744
8. Re: South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts

I was at both Heavenly and Northstar last December and they were the only ones open with snowmaking. The runs at both were comparable in difficulty. Mostly greens and blues had man made snow on them. There were about a dozen runs at each resort open due to the lack of snow. I'm going back again this year same time so I guess the lack of snow will not prevent us from trying again! We are staying at the Marriott Grand Residences right at the gondola. Probably the best located place to stay.

posts: 44
9. Re: South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts

Thanks Jeremy, CaSwede and PlanetR for the additional information. We have especially been looking for those who were also there in early Dec. Thanks for sharing your experience with Northstar and Heavenly. We enjoyed skiing and if there is a chance we would like to ski but we would be equally happy to explore the place if there is now snow. We have 2 ful days so we may ski for a day and explore part of the lake on the other day. We heard so much about Lake Tahoe that we feel we should visit it since we are so close already. I suppose at the moment we will keep our options open till we are there. On the way to North Tahoe from Yosemite, will we pass through South Tahoe where Heavenly is?

10. Re: South Lake Tahoe skiing resorts

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 5:17 am, July 30, 2013
Get answers to your questions about South Lake Tahoe