A little planning goes a long way when dealing with a trip up to the mountains. Knowing a local can help you get the inside track on great spots to eat, ride, and stay but for those without a native in the area here is the breakdown on one of the great treasures of the land, Lake Tahoe. To get to Lake Tahoe you can fly into Reno and rent a car or take any of the shuttles to the hotels and casinos (many offer a “stay and ski free” deal for local mountains). You can also drive easily to Lake Tahoe which is about 3-4 hours from the bay area and San Francisco which is what many people tend to do.
Lake Tahoe can be broken down into two main areas, North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe. North Lake Tahoe includes Reno and all the fun that comes with a casino laden city. Truckee is a great mountain town about 31 miles/35 minutes from Reno with numerous resorts to ride within a short drive from the hotels in town. North Lake Tahoe has two standout resorts; Northstar at Tahoe and Squaw Valley. Northstar is a solid family friendly mountain with a couple great terrain parks and a backside for the more adventurous rider. They amped up the resort when Ritz Carlton put in a hotel in the village making it a destination for apres-ski and the upper crust. Squaw Valley hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960 and have kept the olympic village feel since. World class terrain and some great steep runs make it a great spot to spend a weekend and get a lot of riding in.
South Lake Tahoe is where you go to party and ride. The Nevada/California state line runs through the middle of town and as soon as you hit Nevada the casinos take over. There is literally something for everyone in South Lake. Gambling, clubs, fine dining, game rooms, sports bars, and just about anything else abound in South Lake. Once the sun goes down it is a party for anyone looking for one especially new years eve. As far as riding there are a couple smaller resorts but Heavenly is the big draw. The gondola picks up right in town and takes you up to a world class big mountain with a “Heavenly” view of always blue Lake Tahoe. Go big terrain parks and challenging backcountry are all over the place but beware.... Heavenly is guaranteed to be crowded on holidays and the weekends. For those looking for smaller lines on a equally great mountain Kirkwood is about a 30 minute drive from downtown South Lake. Kirkwood is nestled away in the mountains and is a favorite for riders that know the area.