7 Reasons Why Tahoe Makes A Perfect Ski Holiday (even in poor seasons)
Tahoe has suffered in recent years with poor seasons but despite this there are good reasons why even despite bad snow, Tahoe makes the perfect ski destination.
In any ski destination there is no guarantee of perfect snow conditions. Unfortunately, many off us have to preplan our holidays to fit in with our annual leave, booking in advance and praying for ideal snow conditions. This list is for people who are constrained by whatever reason from attempting a Powderbible trip.
If those ideal conditions don't eventuate, we can often be left with disappointment and sometimes a unfortunate bad impression of the destination.
Whilst we can go through snow statistics and work out the best chance of getting good snow, it doesn't cover us for those times when we could hit the resorts in less than pristine conditions. So I'm going to show you the 7 reasons why despite bad seasons in Tahoe, I still came home a happy camper and why you'll have a memorable holiday too.
1. One storm fixes everything
Tahoe gets as many as 300 days a year of sunshine. That may seem counterproductive to good snow however when it snows in Tahoe, it really snows. It's not unusual for a storm to drop over 2m of snow in a single storm over a few days.
This works wonders even if the cover was minimal to start with, by the later days of the storm, it'll be so deep that it didn't matter and you're not going to hit the rocks underneath.
You may also be as lucky as we were when a storm was expected to drop but 1 inch of snow, instead it continued snowing throughout the day and finished up with 1 foot instead. I'll never forget that day as it was simply sensational and we virtually had Northstar to ourselves.
2. Shop till you drop
Tahoe being an area as opposed to a town resort means that the shopping choices are only increased. There's no being stuck to the same shopping strip let alone the same town. The expanse of Tahoe means that you can travel to different areas, different resorts and find shopping of all calibres.
For North Lake Tahoe, you can find great shopping around Tahoe City, Truckee and the resorts of Squaw Valley and Northstar.
If that's not enough, there's South Lake Tahoe as well with it's plethora of shops to keep you filling up your suitcases to bring home.
It doesn't matter if you're looking for dirt cheap bargains or those luxury items, you're sure to find it around Lake Tahoe.
If you happen to be there later in the season, you're bound to pick up some great prices as the post-season sales come on even though the ski season of Tahoe usually extends to May allowing you to use your purchases before you even leave.
3. Snowmaking and pristine corduroy
Many of the resorts in the area have invested heavily in snow-making in recent years and it shows with them being able to open lower mountain slopes earlier in the season and ensuring that they have enough snow base to ride out any dry spell that may occur.
On top of this, places like Northstar and Squaw Valley have worked tirelessly on their grooming to ensure that the corduroy is of the highest standard making for pure carving delight.
If you luck out on a bad season, then you can be assured you'll still be having some great skiing on long runs to keep you mighty happy.
4. Altitude with Attitude
The base of most resorts sit above 1890m in the Tahoe area and can stretch up over the 3000m mark. This high ridge often allows for much snow to fall just over the crest and into the resorts.
If a warm storm comes though, this elevation also helps you to escape the rain and head up to the snowy parts. Mt Rose and the upper mountains of Squaw Valley and Heavenly permit you to ski above 2300m for the entire day, escaping the drenching below.
Even at these altitudes, everyone from the beginner to the expert is catered for.
5. Stuff yourself full
I'm quite partial to good food and whilst the stereotype of American food can exist in the area, there are many places that buck that stereotype.
I can never go past a Fat Cat Mac and Cheese with bacon, it's quite a fatty delight and leaves you feeling all warm and gooey inside. The sandwiches are also a great option as well, the freshness bursts in your mouth.
For a late breakfast (because you want to take a break day), then Fire Sign cafe is a must. They have freshly baked muffins and desserts changing everyday and breakfast goes until the end of lunchtime. If you can fit in a double stack of pancakes with banana, then you're doing really well.
6. Road tripping
What's a trip to Tahoe without a trip around the Lake? Well it's not really a trip. Lake Tahoe scenery is simple stunning. Photos really don't do it justice. The beauty of a bad season is that the Emerald Lake Pass is likely to be open (driving it you'll understand why it's often closed in winter). On the eastern side near Incline Village are the rocks that are synonymous with Lake Tahoe.
If you go further afield, you can jump back into the Wild West in Virginia City where you can walk the authentic boardwalks of yesteryear and get yourself into some boots and hats like a real cowboy. Don't forget to get into a tavern and shoot it up.
7. Tumbleweeds of Midweek
Whilst being close to a major urban centre (much like Mt Buller) means big crowds on weekends, Tahoe suffers from a desertion during the week.
It's lower profile with International skiers means that the midweek of Tahoe can be almost like a ghost town. Lines on chairlifts virtually don't exist and even if it dumps and the locals hit the hill, you'll still be enjoying many lines of fresh powder.
If you're really lucky, the passes over the crest get shutdown and the numbers on the hills get constrained even more.
If time is limited or you're constrained by work and you want to be sure you have a great trip, then Tahoe should be a place of serious consideration. Even in a bad season, you can still get in some great skiing, could luck out on a great storm or simply shop and eat until you've had your fill.
Tahoe is simply a great place to take a ski holiday because it has so much to offer everyone despite the conditions. In the worst case you'll have a great time and in the best case you'll come home stunned.
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