Squaw Valley Ski Resort
Host of the 1960 Olympic Games, Squaw is a mountain steeped in history. Arguably the most advanced of the Tahoe resorts, Squaw attracts plenty of advanced skiers and is the home of Pro skiers such as CR Johnston, Johnny Moseley and Ingrid Backstrom.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
Squaw is located on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe in California. It is approximately 200 miles from San Francisco, or 40 miles from Reno
- Terrain: Squaw boasts some of the best terrain in North America. Many of the "expert" terrain is lifted, requiring little, if any, hiking.
- Snowfall: With an average of 450" a year, snow quantity should not be a problem.
- Climate: It's either snowing hard, or bluebird.
- Crowds: On a powder day, people begin lining up at KT-22 almost 3 hours before the lift opens.
- Cost: Compared to other Tahoe and American resorts, Squaw is relatively expensive.
- Snow quality: Being in a coastal climate, the snow is not as dry as the snow that falls in the Rockies.
Phone: +1(530) 583-6985
Snowphone: +1(530) 583-6955
Fax: +1(530) 581-7106
Squaw Valley Ski Corporation
P.O. Box 2007
1960 Squaw Valley Road
Olympic Valley, CA, 96146
From San Francisco: Squaw is around 160km from Sacramento and 320km from San Francisco. From the Bay area, take Interstate 80 northeast into the Sierra Nevada. Exit at Truckee, onto Highway 89 SOUTH, towards Lake Tahoe/Tahoe City/Squaw Valley. Follow Highway 89 south 13km to Squaw Valley Rd, turn RIGHT and follow Squaw Valley Road to the base of the mountain. It takes about 3½-4 hours to get from SFO to Squaw.
From Reno: Squaw is 67km from Reno, NV. Take I80 WEST into California and on to Truckee. Take the Highway 89 SOUTH Exit towards Lake Tahoe/Tahoe City/Squaw Valley. Follow Highway 89 SOUTH 13km to Squaw Valley Road, turn RIGHT and follow Squaw Valley Road to the base. Travel time from Reno is approximately 1 hour.
Squaw offers a large amount of on-mountain accomodation, however does not cater for the budget crowd. Some of the most popular include:
Resort at Squaw Creek: Squaw's flagship hotel, it caters towards the upper mid-range to luxury market. Located at Squaw Creek, it offers ski in and out services. Although away from the main village, it offers guests 3 restaurants and bars, lagoon style pool, ice skating rink, clothing and accessories shops and a shuttle service to the main village, as well as many other guest services.
Plumpjack: Located adjacent to the cable car building, Plumpjack is loacted right in the village. It offers mid-range and penthouse accomodation and offers a large up-market restaurant as well as a bar
Olympic Village Inn: Located across the parking lot, the Village Inn could be consiered Squaw's family accomodation, offering some of the cheaper rates on the mountain. In ski gear it is a cumbersome 5 minute walk from the village, but a regular shuttle does run.
There is also a large variety of smaller complexes in the heart of the village offering apartment and hotel style.
The north Tahoe area offers a large variety of accommodation options, from house rentals or apartments to hotel style lodging. Most popular area's include Olympic Valley, Tahoe city, Trukee, Sunnyside and Kings beach.
Lift tickets at Squaw are expenisve when compared to other Tahoe or North American resorts. Children (Under 12) however are only $5 with every full paying adult. As an added bonus, any active serving members of the US armed forces ski and ride free every day of the season.
The ski school at Squaw Valley is massive, with 4 different adult meeting areas and a seperate childrens ski school.
The Adult ski school office is located in the village right next to the ticket portals, however, lessons can be booked for any level at any of the meeting areas. The ski school is mainly divided into two parts.
Funitel: Adjacent to ski school office this is a primary meeting place for beginner, intermediate and private lessons
Papoose: Papoose is Squaw's base learning area, offering first time ski and snowboarding lessons.
Bailey's Beach: Located at the top of the cable car, this is Squaw's upper mountain beginner area. Ski and Snowboard lessons meet here for levels 1 - 3
Links: Located at the top of Links chair is the meeting point for all ski/boarding ability levels 3 - 9.
"Squaw Kids" is located opposite the funitel building in the main village. It offers 3 different programs, which are available for either a half day or full day. Squaw Kids caters for every ability level, from first timer to level 8. Private lessons are also offered.
- Snow Cubs: Program for 3 and young 4 year olds. Children participate in inside activities before a 1 hour ski lesson in both the morning and afternoon.
- Snow Sliders: For 4 - 6 year olds. Alot more intensive then snow cubs, children are on the snow for the vast majority of the day.
- Junior Mountain: For 7 - 12 year olds. Junior mountain program is setup much like an adult lesson, with students on the mountain for both morning and/or afternoon lessons. Snowboarding is only available for children aged 7 -12.
Reservations are strongly suggested for weekends or holiday periods. Get there early on a bluebird Pow day to avoid waiting in line. :)
Hiring Equiment in Tahoe is not a problem. There are 5 ski hire shops in the Squaw Valley village and Olympic Valley. The closest towns of Tahoe City and Truckee also offer a range of ski hire shops, as does Reno.
If your children are enrolled in Squaw kids, then they may hire equipment from the children's center.
Once you are in the base area, getting around is only a matter of walking. There are shuttles to and from the Papoose Learning area to the Cable Car and from Squaw Creek Resort to the Cable Car.
There is heaps of free parking available at the base area, all within walking distance to the lifts.
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Bars & Entertainment
The village at Squaw is relatively new and many of the bars are just starting to create their own vibe.
The Chamois This is a locals hangout and on a pow day you will be sure to catch some of the more famous locals knocking back a few bevies in here.
Balboa Currently close for the 07/08 Season. Rumours of a reopening are just that with nothing confirmed at the moment.
Zenbu A true night club, Zenbu hosts live musical acts pretty much every night of the week during the season. This is where the big name acts will be, and if you get it on a good night you are in for a good one.
Bar One Offers live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Also hosts the weekly Patagonia Adventure Series slide shows on Wednesday nights. Always good to hear some crazy hippies telling stories of their mountaineering adventures.
Red Dog Bar Recently reopened after some "unfortunate circumstances" led to it's closure. This bar is more of a locals and staff hangout with cheap food and some cheap drink specials.
The Auld Dubliner Fancy a Guniness? The Dubliner is the place to head. Live music is usally on the cards a couple of nights a week. This authentic Irish pub has had the reputation as a locals pub, but more and more, visitors are being drawn in.
Squaw has two main beginner areas; 1. The Papoose Learning area, and 2. The “new” area.
Papoose Learning Area: Located at the base of the Snow King peak, the Papoose area is small and consists of one chairlift and two rope tows. It is ideal for first-timers as it is adjacent to the car park.
The “new” Area: This area consists of 6 chairlifts and is accessible via the Cable Car or Funitel. This area is much bigger than the Papoose area and has more options for skiers and boarders trying to progress.
Squaw's grooming is pretty good. Apart from the beginner areas, good grooming can be found off the Shirley Lake lift and in Siberia Bowl. Red Dog lift also provides access to some good intermediate groomers. Depending on the amount of snow, more advanced groomers can be found off KT-22 and the Main Backside run off Granite Chief.
Off Piste is where it's at at Squaw. With only two small permanently closed areas within the resort boundaries, the choice of lines is endless. Expert terrain can be found all over the mountain.
In the Red Dog area, Poulsen's gully can provide some great riding when conditions are good and you can easily scope your lines from the lift. Most of the off-piste terrain at Red Dog is advanced to expert.
The KT-22 lift is one of the most famous lifts in skiing, and rightly so. The lines possible off this lift vary from expert to insane. For some truly expert skiing, check out Eagles Nest, the Nose, and the Fingers. For an "easier" way down, check out the Saddle - but beware of the rock drops scattered throughout the area. If you want first chair here on a powder day, get there before 6am and expect some push and shove from the locals. The good thing about waiting in this line is that it is the perfect vantage point to watch people ski some awesome lines through the Fingers.
Headwall lift provides access to the Slot, Headwall Face and North Bowl, as well as quite a few chutes past the Cornice Two unload ramp. This area can often provide good skiing in poor snow conditions. The Palisades are a short hike from the top of Siberia Express but are closed on weekends to prevent weekend warriors injurying themselves.
Granite Chief provides some awesome off-piste terrain. You can access the peak with a short 5-10min hike, after which, you will be at the highest point in the resort. Being the furthest area from the base area, this area tends to be less crowded and also has some very serious terrain. Beware, it's a long haul out if you get injured in this area.
The Silverado area is the newest addition to the Squaw map and is truly expert only terrain. Riders must enter through one of 8 gates set up to ensure you know what you are getting yourself into. Locals and pros alike have been seen hucking some massive cliffs in the area.
The Broken Arrow lift also has some great off-piste skiing though unique rock formations. Due to it's aspect, this area doesn't hold the snow all that well, but in big years, this area is great for spring skiing.
Out of Bounds
Squaw has a closed boundary and they are pretty serious about it. If you want lift serivced backcountry, try Alpine next door.
There are a few trails around the golf course.
Parks & Pipes
Squaw has three parks - Belmont, Riveria and Mainline. Belmont is the beginner park, Riveria is for the intermediates and Mainline is for the more advanced. There are two pipes, one in the Riv park and a Superpipe in the Mainline park.
The best bump runs are found off KT-22. The West Face and Chute 75 provide contant pitches and nice bumps usually form here do to the advanced skiers that the lift attracts. More bump runs can also be found over towards the Squaw Creek lift and in the Granite Peak area.
On a powder day, the mountain gets tracked out fast due to the crowds. Most of the crowd will head to KT as this is one of the first lifts to open and has the best terrain. Powder stashes can be found off Red Dog and Squaw Creek which usually never open late due to the less avi danger. The Granite Peak area can also be less crowded, but this will open later in the day after patrol have finished their control routes.
Wind can be a factor at Squaw and it is not unusual for upper mountain lifts to go on wind hold. Generally, Shirley Lake is pretty sheltered. Red Dog and Squaw Creek are the most sheltered areas of the resort and will only go on wind hold in severe winds.
Snowtubing in the Papoose area. Toboganns are generally allowed down near Squaw Creek Resort.
For 3 out of every 4 days, you will be skiing in Californian sunshine. Squaw averages 450" of snowfall each year and storms sometimes last for up to a week and dump as much as 5-6 feet of snow. Wind can be a problem, but usually only during storm cycles. Storms are known to start as rain on the lower half of the mountain before turning to snow as the cold front arrives.