Things to Do in the South Lake Tahoe Area

Things to Do in the South Lake Tahoe Area
In 1856, a postman named John 'Snowshoe" Thompson" crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range carrying 60 pounds of mail. He arrived in the South Lake Tahoe area we now call Heavenly. His method of transportation consisted of two long sticks on his feet, then called snowshoes, and a long pole. Little did he know that these mountains would one day become a major, recreational ski area. Today, the area, which is partially in California and partially in Nevada boasts three major ski resorts, a multitude of hiking trails and endless opportunities for sailing, boating, canoeing and fishing.


Heavenly boasts 4,800 acres of skiable terrain, making it the largest of the three South Lake Tahoe resorts. Thirty lifts service 90 trails, with 20 percent of the terrain suitable for beginners, 45 percent for intermediates and 35 percent for experts. Freestyle skiers and snowboarders are treated to four terrain parks. High Roller California, located on the California side of Heavenly, is an advanced terrain park. The High Roller Super Pipe, also on the California side is the largest pipe in the entire Lake Tahoe area. High Roller Stateline, located on the California/Nevada border is an intermediate park and Low Roller, located on the California side is a beginner park. Like most commercial resorts, Heavenly will be extremely busy during Christmas, President's Day holidays and Spring Break, which usually happens in March. However, it stays open till mid-April. Heavenly has an abundance of on-mountain lodging, as well as budget lodging. Like all of the South Lake Tahoe resorts, people enjoy Heavenly for its spectacular views. If you visit with your significant other and fall in love with the fairy-tale surroundings, consider getting married at the Fantasy Inn and Wedding Chapel.


Fantasy Inn and Wedding Chapel
3696 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
(800) 367-7736

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort

Sierra at Tahoe has 2,000 skiable acres. With 50 percent of the terrain rated blue, this is an intermediate's paradise. The other 50 percent of the trails are divided equally between beginner and advanced terrain. There are 12 lifts that service 46 trails. There are six terrain parks, one half pipe and one super pipe. Sierra also has an innovative feature known as Park Stops, which feature tools for binding adjustment, a map of the resort's terrain park circuit, a variety of ski and snowboard magazines and a place to sit, so that riders do not need to block the trails. Sierra at Tahoe is known for its excellent linking of trails. Additionally, the trails are relatively long, which means more time spent on the slopes and less time spent on the lift line.

Sierra at Tahoe
(530) 659-7453


With 50 percent intermediate and 35 percent advanced terrain, Kirkwood is the most challenging of the three South Lake Tahoe ski areas. Thirteen lifts serve 100 runs on 2,400 acres of skiable terrain. Kirkwood has four terrain parks, which include Adventure Land, for beginners, the Rip Curl Playground, for intermediates, Stomping Grounds for experts. In 2009, Kirkwood added a new, Skier/Boarder Cross park. As a resort that caters to advanced skiers and riders, Kirkwood does not do extensive grooming. As such, it gets a considerable amount of ungroomed powder, and is popular with those who enjoy the steep trails and the deep snow.

(800) 967-7500


South Lake Tahoe has two snowmobiling centers. Both offer guided tours on machine-groomed trails and guided off-piste trails. Special activities can be arranged for groups and for families. The snowmobiling season in Lake Tahoe begins in November and ends in mid-April. Accommodations are available at any of the hundreds of Lake Tahoe lodging venues. If you have your own snowmobile, you can also take your own tours. However, out-of-state snowmobilers must purchase a California permit, which is available at most snowmobile dealers.

Lake Tahoe Winter Sports Center
3071 U.S. HWY 50
South Lake Tahoe
(530) 577-2940

Zephyr Cove Snowmobile Center
760 U.S. Highway 50
(775) 588-3833


Tubing is offered at the Tube and Saucer Hill at Hansen's Resort. The 400-foot-long groomed trails are located on 3.5 acres of land. if you decide to stay in one of the resort cabins, you get unlimited tubing at no cost. Even if you are not staying at the cabin, kids under age 4 ride free, making it an excellent option for a family vacation. Even though some of the ski resorts have tubing, if you visit Hansen's you get a chance to see some different Lake Tahoe scenery.

Tube & Saucer Hill
Hansen's Resort
1360 Ski Run Boulevard
(530) 544-3361


Given that South Lake Tahoe borders on Nevada, you can expect to see a number of casinos. However, don't expect it to look like Las Vegas. The South Lake Tahoe casinos are low on glitz and bright lights, and high on comfort and customer service. Harrah's Lake Tahoe is the most popular casino in the area. The hotel itself is known for its large rooms, some of which have two bathrooms. Additionally, there's an 800-seat show room that offers celebrity entertainment, and a full-service 7,000-square-foot spa with 12 treatment rooms.

Harrah's Lake Tahoe
15 Highway 50
Stateline, NV

Article Written By Lisa Mercer

In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.

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