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Choosing Between Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows

Alpine Meadows and Olympic Valley both offer unparalleled amounts of expert skiing in the Tahoe basin. The primary differences lie in accessibility and crowds. While you can access all of Olympic's terrain from a monstrous network of lifts, Alpine’s steepest and most revered skiing often takes a bit of work. The upside is that the terrain at Alpine often lacks the crowds that Olympic experiences, and the snow takes longer to ski out. Alpine also is a better option for intermediate/groomed skiing and side country terrain. Olympic reigns supreme on the shear amount of world class skiing that can be easily accessed only a short distance from any number of lifts. Olympic also has a more robust on-mountain amenities layout, and a more vibrant village and après atmosphere.

Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows are a quick shuttle ride apart and plans are in the works to connect them by Gondola.

Both have more terrain than one can cover in a day. Use the tips below to decide where to spend your day:

> Related Content: Check out our Complete Guide to Skiing in California

Terrain Guide

Olympic Valley

  • Has the edge for steep, expert and extreme terrain; fabled for its narrow chutes, exposed boulders, cliffs, and pitches so steep they flirt with the limit of skiable terrain

    • This is the stuff Warren Miller Productions are made of

    • Iconic chairlifts like KT-22, Headwall, Granite Chief, and Silverado would each be considered a rarity in the ski industry. A skier at Squaw can tackle the legendary terrain off of all of them in the same day

  • Intermediates can test their skills on some of the longer runs and "easier" blacks

  • Dedicated beginner area, uniquely situated at the top has unrivaled views

  • Excellent backcountry access with the convenience of a chair lift.

    • Consider Alpenglow Expeditions; located in the Squaw Valley Village, skiers can leave the resort boundary with a guide and find some of the epic backcountry terrain in the surrounding area

  • Home to 5 terrain parks 

    • Gold Coast Terrain Park: where you will find the medium/large features incl. a halfpipe on bigger years.

    • Belmont Terrain Park: beginner and progression park. This is the perfect place to start learning the basics


Alpine Meadows

  • Excellent mix of long, groomed intermediate areas alongside some truly insane extreme skiing zones

  • Tends to be less crowded, particularly on weekends and during peak times

  • More grooming and snow-making 

  • More mellow options; the layout is easier to navigate and will prevent wandering into expert terrain. Intermediates will enjoy:

    • Lakeview Chair: Outer Limits, Mountain View, and Leisure Lane – all pretty mellow, south facing and frequently groomed

    • The Summit – Alpine Bowl & Sunspot have long runs

    • Sherwood Chair (Backside) – east facing (early sun) with wide open bowl skiing and lake views

  • Powders chasers have options to hike far along the ridge lines to access hundreds of acres of incredible bowl skiing. New snow stays fresh longer in these areas as they take more work to access. Experts will enjoy:

    • Sun Bowl, S.P. Bowl, Grouse Saddle – all on the backside with isolated tree skiing and deep snow that stays fresh for a very long time. Just beware, this requires a longer hike often involved hiking or skating out

  • Only one terrain park, geared towards children

Palisades Tahoe Combined Stats

Size / Elevation
  • Peak: 9,050 ft | 2,760m

  • Vertical Drop: 2,850 ft | 869m

  • Base: 6,200 ft | 1,890m

  • Total Area: 6,000 acres |14.6 sq km

  • 8 Peaks

Highest Peaks (Squaw)

  • Granite Chief (9,006 ft)

  • Olympic Peak (8,885 ft)

Highest Peak (Alpine)​

  • Ward Peak (8,637)

Terrain Overview

​Mountain Range: Sierra Nevada

  • 270+ Trails   

  • 23 Bowls

  • 5 Terrain Parks (Olympic only)

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  • Olympic Valley Base Area (6,200 ft)

  • Alpine Base Area (6,835 ft)

On Mountain Dining

  • 6 on mountain & more options at the base (see our guide)

Lift Stats

Uphill Capacity: 72,200 ppl / hr

42 Total Lifts

  • 1 Aerial Tram (110-person)

  • 1 Funitel (28-person gondola)

  • 5 High speed six packs

  • 5 High speed quads

  • 1 Quad

  • 12 Triples

  • 10 Doubles

  • 5 Surface Lifts

  • 2 Magic Carpets

  • 2 Minimum lifts to access peak from base

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