Sitting pretty on the northern edge of Lake Tahoe, Truckee, CA is a town that will take your breath away and give you a lifetime’s worth of skiing and snowboarding. There are more than a dozen incredible ski resorts tucked around this region of Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada.
This mile-high town, just 3 hours from the Bay Area, has Californians dreaming of the slopes. Truckee is a winter sports haven, densely packed with many high-quality ski areas within a 2-hour drive. There are hot springs near Truckee too. You can easily hit the mineral waters in western Nevada or northern California.
This charming mountain town, perched up at 5,900 feet, is only 31 miles from Reno, 100 miles from Sacramento, and 190 miles from San Francisco. It gets more than 200 inches of snowfall annually. The ski resorts around Lake Tahoe reside in both Nevada and California.
Truckee has three regions dedicated to skiing and snowboarding: Truckee itself, South Lake Tahoe, and Northeast Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side of the border. Skiing or snowboarding doesn’t get more convenient than in Truckee. Less than 30 minutes from Truckee’s center, you can find yourself at a whopping 9 ski areas.
And if you’re sick of Truckee, somehow, and you’re interested in exploring a little bit further away from the utopian centrum of Truckee’s ski world. Well, lucky for you, South Lake Tahoe has three fantastic resorts that are under 1.5 hours away. Finally, last but not least, Truckee is within a stone’s throw of three great Nevada ski resorts. Head out to these sites, rip up the runs a bit, and head to Reno for some Blackjack. Doesn’t sound too shabby if you ask us.
Here are the nearest ski areas to Truckee, California, in order of proximity:
Northstar California – Truckee: 7 miles | 13 minutes
Incredibly, Northstar California is dwarfed by Squaw Alpine, but, in the grand scheme of things, Northstar is another giant resort with world-class terrain.
A little less geared towards the advanced skier, 60% of the 3,170-acre resort is groomed and designed for intermediate skiers with black diamonds making up just 27% of the available runs. There are 20 lifts with a working capacity of almost 35,000 people per hour, making his resort a well-oiled machine.
A little lower in elevation, and with about 100 inches less of snowfall per year, the quality of skiing at Northstar California isn’t quite on par with Squaw Alpine, but the lift ticket also doesn’t dig quite as dip into the pocket. Additionally, Northstar has 7 terrain parks, making it highly attractive for those looking to find a diversity of pipes, parks, and alternative terrain.
Tahoe Donner – Truckee: 7 miles | 15 minutes
Although tiny, Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort is worth considering if you’re spending a solid chunk of time skiing in Truckee. Taho Donner has 14 runs and 2 chairlifts with just 120 acres of skiable area, offering respite from the crowds at other resorts around Truckee and near Donner Summit.
Tahoe Donner isn’t going to wow you like some of the resorts listed, but it will give you a taste of the diversity of skiing that there is to be found around Truckee.
Boreal Mountain – Soda Springs: 10 miles | 13 minutes
The sister resort to Soda Springs, Boreal follows suit in that it’s a pretty small resort, being only 380 acres. That being said, Boreal is super popular for its terrain parks. Home to 5 terrain parks, 2 additional terrain parks for those still learning, and 41 different runs, mostly aimed at beginner and intermediate riders, this resort has a lot to offer.
Frankly, Boreal’s main pull is with terrain park junkies looking for a highly condensed, quality collection of runs. Keeping in fashion with this focus, Boreal is open until 8 pm, weather permitting, and has a rolling lift ticket price. The later you come, the less you pay!
Boreal Mountain Resort is also connected to the same learners’ park at Soda Springs (Woodward State Park) so, it’s easy to pack a day, or two when you hit Soda Springs and Boreal.
Donner Ski Ranch – Norden: 10 miles | 20 minutes
Staying true to its predecessors on this list, Donner Ski Ranch isn’t exactly a huge resort but it does offer a lot of variety for its size. Just 435 acres of the skiable area might not sound much but, when it sits at 7,000 feet, one of the highest base elevations in the Sierras, and has over 410 inches of annual snowfall, it’s hard to go wrong.
Donner boasts 6 ski lifts to its 52 runs, most of which are evenly distributed between beginner, intermediate, and advanced terrain. Donner Ski Ranch, whose name is derivative of the area’s interesting past, prides itself on being less about glamorous ski resort lifestyle and more about no-fuss skiing and family fun.
Like almost every single ski area on this list, Donner has its storied lodge with food and beverage options as well as a unique topographical feature that runs on the front and back sides of Donner Summit. Surrounded by alpine lakes, cruising down these runs might have you looking on Zillow to see what’s available in the area.
Squaw Alpine – Olympic Valley: 11 miles | 16 minutes
Home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Alpine is considered the cream of the crop, the bee’s knees, and the crown jewel of the Truckee ski/snowboard scene. Second in size in North America only to Whistler Blackcomb, Squaw Alpine Resort is the combination of two of Truckee’s most successful resorts: Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. They’re now connected through ownership (and through access between each resort area by both gondola and trail).
Squaw Alpine boasts 6,200 acres or 4,690 football fields of skiing. There are 270 independent runs, half of which are black diamonds. 30 different lifts that can support up to 58,000 skiers per hour up to the peak elevation of 9,000 feet, which bodes well for the 600,000 skiers and snowboarders that visit each year.
This is, without any concern of exaggerating, one of the premier skiing destinations in the world with Mountain Run, the resort’s longest, being about 3.2 miles.
Sugar Bowl – Norden: 11 miles | 25 minutes
Two years after its opening in 1939, Sugar Bowl was front in center in both Walt Disney’s “The Art of Skiing” and Greta Garbo’s “Two-Faced Woman”. Don’t worry, you read that correctly: Sugar Bowl has been running for 81 consecutive years!
It’s one of the oldest ski resorts in the West and was the very first to install a chairlift, and subsequently a gondola lift.
There are 103 runs over 1,600 acres, of which 38% are designed for advanced skiers and riders, and 13 lifts that allow over 21,000 passengers per hour make Sugar Bowl Resort a well-oiled machine. With a peak elevation of about 8,400 feet, you can enjoy a long 3-mile descent as the longest continuous run on the mountain.
And, last but not least, like most of the ski areas around Truckee, Sugar Bowl gets an average of 500 inches of snowfall per year. That’s right, 500 inches! So no fear of scraping the bottom down this resort’s runs. Just smooth sailing… or skiing… or snowboarding.
Soda Springs Mt – Soda Springs: 13 miles | 17 minutes
It’s been said that Dung Beetles are, pound for pound, the strongest organism in the world. If Soda Springs was an animal, it would be something close to a Dung Beetle…well, minus the dung part.
Soda Springs Mountain Resort may only support 15 runs and two main chair lifts, but with 400 inches of annual snowfall and 6 of 15 runs being black diamonds, Soda Springs is an intimate experience with a variety of runs.
Soda Springs is a bit more than a ski resort offering tubing, a kid’s specific ski area, a sleigh ride, and an area designed just for learning – with no pressure. So if you’re looking for a place to get some quality skiing in on a budget, with plenty of activity for kids, Soda Springs is a great way to cram all into one.
Homewood Mt – Homewood: 20 miles | 30 minutes
About 30 minutes South along Lake Tahoe you’ll hit Homewood Mountain Resort, a mid-sized resort with similarities to Sugar Bowl. Homewood is a little further out from Truckee than the rest but is a great spot for intermediate skiers, with 50% of its 1,300 acres and 60 runs being designed for mid-level riders.
7 lifts are operating on the resort, and there are two different terrain parks as well as a 2-mile long run. Homewood gets about 400 inches of snow per year, making for skiing and snowboarding that feels like floating.
Diamond Peak – Incline Village, NV: 20 miles | 30 minutes
While not regarded as high on the list as some of these ski destinations, Diamond Peak is worth the trip for more than just the quality of its slopes. As you’re ascending the mountain on The Lakeview Quad lift, which is already sitting around 8,500 feet, you can take in the spectacular views of the North end of Lake Tahoe.
Diamond Peak Ski Resort is home to 655 skiable acres with 30 runs that are split between beginner, intermediate, and advanced terrain. The resort also has 6 chair lifts and 4 terrain parks, so for those of you who are looking for a good day of tricks without fighting for time, Diamond Peak might be your best bet.
If you have extra days to kill in Truckee and you want to spend them exploring more resorts, Diamond Peak is a great alternative to the usual choices.
Mt. Rose Ski – Reno, NV: 27 miles | 40 minutes
A secondary, or even tertiary, thought for most visitors to Truckee is Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe. Although considered a smaller resort compared to those nearby, Mt. Rose holds some intriguing records such as having the highest base elevation resort around Lake Tahoe at almost 8,300 feet.
Mount Rose has 1,200 skiable acres and more than 60 runs. About 6 or 7 of those are rated as double black diamonds, but in general, there’s a handful of runs for every level of rider. And with 8 lifts for a small-to-mid-sized resort (Tahoe standards), it has quite a bit of kick to it.
The resort receives around 400 inches of snow annually and its 3 terrain parks add to Mt. Rose’s allure. Mount Rose Ski is worth the extra driving time.
Heavenly Mt – South Lake Tahoe: 42 miles | 1 hour
Heavenly Mountain is South Lake Tahoe’s largest resort with 4,800 acres of skiing on 97 runs serviced by 30 different lift systems. The longest run at Heavenly Mountain Resort is a whopping 5.5 miles and the resort has two large terrain parks.
One of Heavenly’s draws is that it balances its runs between beginner, intermediate, and advanced better than a lot of the parks around with a 20/45/35 split, respectively.
Sierra-at-Tahoe – Twin Bridges: 55 miles | 1.5 hours
On the south side of the lake, skiing and snowboarding still reign supreme. At Sierra at Tahoe, the 2,000-acre resort supports 6 quality terrain parks, 46 runs, 50% of which are intermediate in difficulty, and 11 different lifts.
This peak gets an outrageous amount of snow, almost 480 inches per year.
Lift tickets aren’t any cheaper down here and, in fact, actually run a bit higher for the number of runs you’re offered. That being said, the terrain at Sierra at Tahoe is pristine and because they are set back from Truckee a bit, get a little less attention which, hopefully, means a little more free reign for you as you fly down the mountain.
Kirkwood Mt – Kirkwood: 73 miles| 1.75 hours
Even though Kirkwood Mountain may be the furthest resort included on this list, it couldn’t be left off in good conscience. On average, Kirkwood gets about 500 inches of annual snowfall, the most of any resort on this list. So the snow is usually fresh, meaning the ride down could be buttery smooth.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort is large, boasting 2,300 skiable acres geared towards advanced riders. Almost 60% of the runs are designed as black diamonds and 15 lifts connect the resort. It doesn’t have any crazy long runs, the longest being 2.5 miles, and it only has two terrain parks, but, it’s all quality.
All in all, Truckee is about as close to paradise as it gets for a skier or snowboarder. We’d guess there have been more than a few snow sports lovers who have found themselves slowly migrating towards full-time ski bum-dom while working their way through all these resorts.
Whether it’s a family weekend, a solo trip, or a permanent move to be closer to the slopes, it doesn’t get much better than Truckee!