Images courtesy of @Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Squaw Alpine Resort Overview

The Avant Ski Team                       September 2020


Avant Ski

Often called the birthplace of extreme skiing, Squaw Valley (Squaw) looms large in the imagination as a crucible that separates the legendary (or insane) skiers and snowboarders from the mere mortals. After the combination with nearby Alpine Meadows in 2011, the resulting "Squaw Alpine" is by no means only reserved for experts. Since then, new management has been on a mission to change Squaw's historically aggressive, "locals first attitude" and prove that Squaw Alpine can be a destination for tourists and families alongside Olympians. Alpine is a short shuttle ride from Squaw 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. 

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Quick Take

  • 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!

  • Squaw Alpine is the capital of spring skiing. On bigger years, Squaw will keep its 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 Squaw Alpine shuttle conveniently connects the two mountains. 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. Squaw Alpine can also be done as 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 Squaw/Alpine 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

  • Squaw 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 

  • 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

Squaw Alpine is a ~4-5 hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, but always 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.

Getting To

Closest Major City: San Francisco, CA

  • Distance: ~200 miles South West
  • Travel Time: ~ 4 hours drive
Nearby Cities:
  • Reno, NV: ~43 miles, ~45 minute drive
  • Sacramento, CA: ~110 miles, ~1 hour 45 minute drive
Closest Towns:
  • Tahoe City, ~7 miles, ~12 minute drive​
  • Truckee, ~11 miles, ~16 minutes

Neighboring Resorts

Squaw Alpine is part of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and can easily be combined with a day trips to other resorts in the Tahoe Area. For a longer trip within the Sierra Nevadas, head to Ikon Pass Partners, Mammoth and June Mountains in Southern California. Other Lake Tahoe Resorts on the Epic Pass

  • Northstar, Lake Tahoe (~20 miles, ~30 minutes)
  • Heavenly, Lake Tahoe (~40 miles, ~1 hours)
  • Kirkwood, Lake Tahoe (65 miles, ~1 hour, 35 minutes)
Closet Neighbors on the Ikon Pass​
  • Mammouth Mountain, CA (180 miles, ~4 hours)
  • June Mountain, CA (~160 miles, ~3.5 hours)

Travel by Plane

Closest commercial airport: RNO (Reno-Tahoe International Airport)

  • ~50 miles North East, ~45 minutes
  • RNO has 100+ daily departures with non-stop service to 22 U.S. cities and Guadalajara, Mexico. Ski free the day you fly in when you show your boarding pass.
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, 40 minutes Private planes may come in and out of Truckee Airport. Service is available through membership-based private aviation companies incluidng Wheels Up, SurfAir and Mountain Lion Aviation.

Travel by Bus

The Squaw Alpine Shuttle is free and runs continuously between the bases of Squaw Vally and Alpine Meadows Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit ( 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.

Travel by Car

We prefer to have a car to get here, its an easy drive from the Bay Area. Consider carpooling, the first 800 cars with 3+ passengers receive access to premium parking (otherwise $30 for premium parking). Insider Tip - Park by Far East Express at Squaw if you're looking to get on the snow quickly. Parking usually doesn't fill up quite as fast, and you don't have a long distance to walk before putting on your skis!

  • Pros: Helpful for exploring nearby resorts and all the region has to offer
  • Cons: Parking can be crowded, leading to a long walk or shuttle ride
  • Ride shares: (e.g., Uber, Lyft) are not reliable here

Helpful Apps

  • If you are staying in one of the Valleys, the Mountaineer App is super useful for getting around. This free shuttle system runs in all weather
  • For navigating the mountain, use The Ikon App or the SVAM App for trail maps and for tracking your runs. (And don't forget to check our itineraries)
  • For the latest road conditions, download the Cal Trans App