Images courtesy of @Palisades Tahoe
Palisades Tahoe Resort Overview
The Avant Ski Team October 2021
Often called the birthplace of extreme skiing, Palisades Tahoe looms large in the imagination as a crucible that separates the legendary (or insane) skiers and snowboarders from the mere mortals. After Olympic Valley's combination with nearby Alpine Meadows in 2011, the resulting "Palisades Tahoe" is by no means only reserved for experts. Since then, new management has been on a mission to change Palisade's historically aggressive, "locals first attitude" and prove that Palisades Tahoe can be a destination for tourists and families alongside Olympians.
Alpine is a short shuttle ride from Olympic Valley and features more groomed terrain as well as plenty powder for those willing to hike. Combined, the resorts have over 6,000 acres and nearly 70 percent of the trails are rated for beginners or intermediates. The mountain’s lower elevation — a base of 6,200 feet and the tallest peak just over 9,000 feet — allows for warmer conditions and easier breathing. The resort is ~45 minute drive from Reno, NV or a 4-5 hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area. It's also an easy day trip from South Lake Tahoe where there's more to do off of the mountain.
Start your day by fueling up at Wildflour Bakery. On the ground level of the Olympic Building, the aroma of the baked from scratch goods will draw you in. They serves Peet's Coffee, bagels and pastries. It's also all about the cookies!
Palisades Tahoe is the capital of spring skiing. On bigger years, Olympic will keep lifts spinning into late June or July (July 4th is not to be missed if the mountain is still open)! Take full advantage of the upper mountain pool and hot tub and bask in the village wearing shorts
For a more laid back experience, old school vibes, lake views and hike-to bowl skiing, head to Alpine Meadows. Alpine is ~7 miles away and the shuttle conveniently connects the two mountains. A connecting Gondola is also in the works. Lift tickets are valid at both
On bigger snow years, head to the famed Silverado chair. Here you can access some of the best advanced skiing anywhere in the world
Ski free the day you fly in (only RNO is close enough). Show your boarding pass to get a free afternoon ticket good from 12:30-4PM
Stay in Tahoe City (10-15 minutes) or Truckee (15-20 min) for more variety in accommodations, dining and other activities. Palisades Tahoe can also be a day trip from South Lake (~1 hour), but beware of road closures and treacherous driving conditions when it snows
The top and even mid-mountain are above the tree line and susceptible to high winds which can result in lift closures
The local après scene is mostly casual places to grab a beer
California droughts pose a threat to all Tahoe ski resorts. While Palisades Tahoe has made significant improvements to its snow-making systems, much of the two mountains best and most fun skiing is outside of its snow-making network and can become un-skiable in a true California drought
Tahoe's proximity to the Pacific Coast increases the potential for warmer storms with wet heavy snow, known as Sierra Cement. This can create nightmare skiing conditions for those who aren’t used to it
Crowds. Watch out for lift lines and come early to secure a parking spot, especially on powder days. Always check traffic
Olympic is home to some of the most iconic lift accessed terrain in the industry. Hailed as “The Mothership,” KT-22 is even claimed by some professional skiers and riders as
their favorite chairlift in the world
Conditions can get epic here in a hurry! Think feet of snow in 24 hours. Sometimes, it can even be too much powder. During the 2016-17 and 2018-19 seasons, heavy snow forced resorts in the Tahoe area to temporarily shut down
Olympic Valley (formerly Squaw Valley) hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics and you can sense the Olympic history and pride everywhere
Bluebird days abound. The relatively lower elevation (6,200 feet at the base) and California sunshine make for pleasant conditions
Getting To & Around
Palisades Tahoe is a ~4-5 hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, but beware of traffic. Reno is an easy "in and out" airport where you can arrive in the morning and be on the mountain in a few hours. A car is essential to explore nearby resorts and all the Tahoe Region has to offer.