NORTHSTAR RESORT GUIDE
Images courtesy of Northstar California
Northstar Resort Overview
Northstar combines the essence of laid back California ski culture with the amenities of a luxurious alpine resort. This family friendly mountain is known for its upscale but reserved vibe; long, perfectly sculpted groomers; world class terrain parks acres of gladed tree skiing, and a charming village atmosphere.
It is also easy to access, just 50 minutes from the Reno airport, and just over 3 hours from San Francisco. The town of Truckee is only 5 miles away and has a greater variety of accommodations than those just found at the resort. The terrain here caters to a wide range of ability levels, however, if you are looking for super steep, expert terain, this is not your spot. Long, uninterrupted blue and black groomers with stunning views abound here. After a day of incredible skiing, head to The Village for a fun après scene filled with lively bars, a modest selction of dining options, and a large ice rink surrounded by fire pits.
The Epic Local Pass is the key to maximizing value here – it offers unlimited days and is perfect for anyone able to navigate peak periods.
Snow-Making & Grooming
Extreme / Off-Piste Terrain
On Mountain Dining
Northstar delivers a luxurious skiing experience for the whole family
Enjoy uninterrupted, long groomers (don't miss Challenger, Iron Horse, Burnout, Washoe or Prosser)
Northstar's terrain parks stand out and have received of a number of awards, including 2nd best in North America by Transworld Snowboarding
The gladed areas and tree skiing are the finest in all of Tahoe (check out Lookout Glade, Monument Glade, and Sawmill Glade)
Northstar mititages Tahoe droughts better than its peers with its impressively large snow making system covering all terrain types
True extreme and expert terrain is quite limited here
The Village is not known to be a hotspot for late night partying; if that's your thing, head to Truckee or the CA/NV stateline in Kings Beach
Like all Tahoe resorts, Northstar may experience drought seasons
Getting onto the hill can feel like a lengthy process. There is limited parking near The Village (most requires a shuttle bus) and reaching the summit takes a minimum of 3 chairlift rides
Northstar is a local favorite for its ability to open the whole mountain on days when most other resorts in Tahoe have to shut down due to the high winds that come from most storms that hit the Sierra (Pro tip: Lookout Mountain is the place to be)
Northstar offers tons of fun for the whole family (even the non-skiers). Activities include tubing, snowshoeing, XC skiing, movie theatres, ice skating and more
If the line for the Big Springs Gondola is long in the morning, consider using the Village Express Chair or the Highlands Gondola for faster mountain access
To relax and enjoy a refined meal or mid-day cocktail, head to the Ritz Carlton mid-mountain
For an in-depth breakdown of Northstar's terrain, head to our Mountain Guide. Top trails and mountain stats included.
Getting To & Around
Northstar is one of the closest resorts to the Reno Airport. Beware, when coming from the Bay Area, you will need to cross the Donner Summit. Sierra storms can deliver lots of snow and its best to have your own vehicle with 4 wheel drive capabilities. During severe storms, the Donner Summit may even shut down. Public transportation is not reliable here.
Closest Major City: San Francisco, CA
Distance: ~200 miles South West, Travel time: ~4 hours
Nearby Big Cities:
Reno, NV: ~37 miles, Travel time: ~50 minutes drive
Sacramento, CA: ~110 miles, Travel time, ~2 hours drive
Truckee: ~7 miles, ~15 minutes drive
Tahoe City: ~18 miles, ~30 minutes drive
Closest Neighbors (Epic Pass):
Heavenly (~40 miles, 1 hour)
Kirkwood (~74 miles, 1 hour, 50 minutes)
Closest Neighbors (Ikon Pass):
Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows (~20 miles, ~30 minutes)
Other Nearby Resorts:
For Great Advanced Terrain: Sugar Bowl or Mt. Rose
For Great Lake Views: Homewood or Diamond Peak
For Great Tree Skiing & Terrain Parks: Sierra at Tahoe
For Great Terrain Park & Home of Woodward Tahoe: Boreal
Travel by Plane
Closest commercial airport: RNO (Reno-Tahoe International Airport)
~45 miles North East, ~50 minutes
Closest major commerical airport: SFO (San Fransicso International Airport)
~205 miles South West, ~4 hours
Other nearby major commercial airport: SMF (Sacramento International Airport)
~115 miles South West, ~1 hour, 50 minutes
Travel By Bus
Public Transporation: Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit (TART) is the best form of public transportation in the North Lake Tahoe Area. TART offers free shuttles between Truckee, South Lake, Tahoe City and Incline Village. See routes here.
Shuttles: The North Lake Tahoe Express offers reasonable shuttle fares to and from Reno-Tahoe airport.
For a more luxurious ride, use Airport Mini Bus (775)-786-3700. Advanced Reservations are recommended.
Travel by Car
Cars are not needed if you are planning to stay only at Northstar.
Pros: Most parking is free and a car provides flexiblity to visit other nearby towns or ski areas
Cons: There is limited parking in the Village and it can take up to an hour to access the slopes from the further away lots. 4 wheel drive / snow tires are required when it snows
Ride shares are not completely reliable here. If you do use a ride share, make sure the driver has 4x4 capablities if snow is in the forecast. Uber/Lyft are easier to order on holidays and weekends, but can be sparse mid-week and during slower periods