Palisades Tahoe, North Lake Tahoe

California, USA

Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows) is a mammoth ski resort area, with almost 4000 acres of terrain - and not just any terrain, some of the best in North America. Ask any Tahoe local where the best extreme skiing is and they’ll answer Palisades. On any powder day the die-hards flock to KT-22 – sometimes it’s more fun just watching them hucking off terrifying cliffs than skiing yourself. That said, this resort has more than enough intermediate and beginner terrain to keep everyone grinning ear to ear, and boasts one of the longest ski seasons in the whole of the USA. Team this up with dramatic alpine scenery and some of the most progressive terrain, spread across 14 popular mountain zones, Palisades Tahoe is right up there as one of our go-to ski destinations in the USA.

Scout Loves

  • KT-22 mountain: Gnarly terrain with an audience watching from the lift line.
  • Le Chamois & Loft Bar is the locals’ favorite après bar.
  • Beginner area at the top of the tram – no need to be stuck down the bottom of the mountain.
  • Wanderlust Yoga studio offering year-round yoga with stunning mountain views.
  • Starting the morning off with an impressive brew at the Coffeebar.
  • Charming European-style pedestrian village.
  • The resort features a run called “Julia’s Gold”, named after hometown hero Julia Mancuso won Olympic Gold at Torino in 2006.

Scout Tips

  • On a powder day, the resort can become crowded and is skied out quickly.
  • Palisades Tahoe spans two main resort base areas; Palisades and Alpine. Although it is possible to travel there on skis, the best way to get to Alpine is via the 10-minute shuttle ride that leaves from the base area.
  • Palisades Tahoe is part of the IKON Pass. The pass entitles you unlimited skiing at these two resorts.
  • Although it’s great staying in the resort, there are other accommodation options in several towns, all within 30 minutes’ drive.
  • Don’t miss the memorabilia from the 1960s Olympic Games up at High Camp.

Scout Review

While most ski resorts usually have a range of terrain, it’s hard to find one that keeps all levels of skiers happy for days on end. Advanced and expert skiers are usually the first to become bored after exploring the stuff that challenges them. On the flip side, beginners at advanced mountains can easily get sick of the one or two runs set aside for them. Thank goodness there’s Palisades Tahoe – a Sierra Nevada playground for skiers that’s big, well-serviced, and with enough acreage and runs to keep all levels happy. And if that’s not enough, the neighboring slopes of Alpine is included in any Palisades Tahoe ticket. Together the two areas cover a gargantuan 6000ac (2428ha) and offer 43 lifts.

Every type of skiing is possible at Palisades Tahoe - from gladed runs to high-alpine bowls to chutes and countless cliffs to jump off. For those not ready to take a leap, plenty of wide open groomed runs will make any intermediate skier feel as though they’re ready for a starring role in the next Warren Miller movie.

It’s rare that beginners are usually skiing at a higher elevation than the experts, but at Palisades Tahoe this is most often the case. Not only that, the High Camp beginner area is accessed via a tram, while the experts are stuck with chairlifts (albeit express ones).

And the fun doesn’t end when the lifts stop turning. There are plenty of other activities offered in Palisade Tahoe's cute European-style village, from yoga to ice-skating and indoor climbing. But you’ll find most hard-core skiers comparing stories from the day at one of the village’s apres hot spots. The more beers they have, the bigger the jumps get.

Palisades Tahoe Skiing

Both Palisades and Alpine ski areas cater to all ablilty levels, with a good spread of beginner through advanced terrain. Palisade's family fun zone, Snoventures, offers gently sloped terrain serviced by easy-to-ride beignner lift and magic carpets. The Big Blue zone at the top of the Aerial Tram also provides some of the best wide open groomed runs and terrain for novice skiers, and is perfect for learning and progression.

A tree skiing paradise for intermediate skiers awaits at Shirley zone, tucked away on the backside of Palisades. Epic corduroy runs, open bowls and wide tree runs with a mellow pitch for those new to tree skiing. Enjoy long, winding, thigh-burning cruiser runs and sheltered tree skiing in the Snow King zone, whilst taking in the spectacular lake views.

Palisades is best known for its advanced and expert terrain, and it definitely doesn't dissapoint even the most avid skier. Big open bowls, classic moguls, cliff drops, chutes, gullies, and some epic hike-to terrain can be found at the Headwall, Silverado, and The Chief zones. Not only is the terrain unforgettable, the surrounding views of the lake and wilderness is heart-stopping. The most famous zone of all is KT-22; the 'mothership' of expert terrain, not for the faint hearted. Over 2000 vertical feet of steeps, chutes, cliffs, and gullies, catering to the most serious of skiers.

And that is just Palisades. Head to the Alpine side of the mountain for a smorgasboard of intermediate terrain, with countless long groomers, trees, terrain parks, wide banks and chutes. Most advanced skiers and snowboarders head over to Alpine for the Pacific Crest Bowls (both North and South) that offer acres of expansive bowls, sun-soaked slopes, and wide-open steeps. The further you hike and traverse, the more advanced the skiing gets (and the more chances of fresh lines!).

The lift infrastructure at Palisades Tahoe is quite diverse, from older-style doubles to new 6-person express chairs and a cable car, and it services the terrain of both resorts really efficiently. Lift lines can be long and painful on a powder day and on weekends, especially at the High Camp Cable Car. The Red Dog lift is definitely not for those with a fear of heights, and the KT22 was once voted the 'best chairlift in North America'. 

Palisades Tahoe is part of the IKON pass, allowing you to explore more of the resorts in both North America and Canada. Contact us for more information.

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Palisades Tahoe For Families

Palisades Tahoe is a top-notch family-friendly ski resort destination. The resort area itself caters to all ability levels, with endless options spread across both resort areas. The Family Fun Zone at SnoVentures is perfect for the beginner, with an easy-to-ride lift and gently sloped trails. There is also snowtubing, mini snowmobiles, a great day lodge, and free shuttle from the Village circle making it even easier to hit the slopes. The ski school is of high quality, with fantastic internationally renowned instructors and a variety of programs to suit all levels and ages. The Kids Children's Centre in the main village centre has full and half day programs, alongside a kids' ski rental shop, magic carpet, and ski tow all part of the same complex. Both High Camp and Gold Coast are perfect spots for families, being right in the heart of all the action, and with a variety of on-mountain eateries. 

Palisades offers fantastic activities for the whole family, providing endless hours of entertainment (and keeping everyone happy!). Take a look at the 1960 Winter Olympic Museum or ice skating rink at High Camp, or head to the village for a climbing wall, dog sledding, snow shoeing, and tubing. 

Staying within Olympic Village is the most popular choice for families at Palisades Tahoe, with a number of condos conveniently located right opposite the aerial tram or only a few minutes walk. Ski-in/ski-out options are also available. Some families head to The Village, located just to the East of the main village. It offers deluxe resort-style accommodation with immediate access to the slopes. Staying in South Lake Tahoe is also an option for families wanting to visit a variety of resorts in the area, with Heavenly Resort base only 1 hour drive from Palisades Tahoe.

Palisades Tahoe Accommodation

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Palisades Tahoe has a couple of different accommodation options at the resort base. There’s a style to suit most budgets. A little further down the road, though still in a ski-in ski-out location, is the Resort at Squaw Creek, a huge hotel with a ton of facilities. If you don’t want to stay in the valley, there are several towns within a short drive.  It is possible to stay at Northstar resort and ski for the day at Palisades Tahoe (and vice versa), though if you’re doing this it would be best to have your own vehicle.

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Resort Activities

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If you’re not too exhausted from skiing, there are other activities, such as  mountain-top ice-skating (at High Camp), dog sledding, yoga, day spas, cross-country skiing and for the kids SnoVentures Center at the base area. It has mini-snowmobiles, and snow tubing.

Getting There and Around

Getting to Palisades Tahoe is relatively easy. It’s just under an hour’s drive from Reno-Tahoe International Airport which has 72 daily departures non-stop from 15 cities.  It’s just over 3 hours’ drive from San Francisco – though longer with weekend traffic and much longer with bad weather. There are several shuttle services to Palisades Taho from the airport.

If you’re keen to explore the Lake Tahoe area, including other ski resorts and towns, it is worth having your own car. There are shuttle services but it may require some connections to get where you’re going.

When To Go

Squaw Valley operates between mid November till mid-May (conditions permitting) December and March are the snowiest months.

Holiday periods that are busy are:

  • Christmas and New Year.
  • Martin Luther King long weekend
  • President’s Day long weekend

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information   Lifts   Terrain    
Base Elevation 6200ft / 1889m Tram 1 Beginner 25%  
Summit Elevation 9059ft / 2758m Gondolas 1 Intermediates 45%  
Vertical Drop 2850ft / 869m Express Six Seater 4 Advanced 30%  
Skiable Area 3600ac / 1457ha Express Quads 3      
Annual Snowfall 450in / 11.43m Quad Chair 1      
Longest Run 3.2 miles / 5.15km Triple Chairs 9      
Snowmaking 600ac / 242ha Double Chairs 6      
Operating Hours 9.00am –4.00pm Surface Lifts 3      
Night Skiing (Fri & Sat ) 3.00pm –8.00pm Magic Carpets 2      
    Lift Capacity per hour 49,000      
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