Ready to hit the slopes? It may seem early. You still have mounds of Halloween candy, and Veterans Day is right around the corner. But now is the time to plan your first snowy getaway, before everyone else starts thinking about cold-weather activities. The mountains already have a base of snow, and they’re gearing up for late-November openings. So where’s your first run of the season?
It should be in Lake Tahoe. Located in between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is the third deepest lake and the largest alpine lake in North America. The cobalt blue water is stunning year round, but the colder it is, the more the lake sparkles. Plus there are slopes that seem as if you’re going to ski right into the water. Convinced yet?
Make The Ridge Tahoe, in Stateline, your home base for your ski trip. The resort has views of the Carson Valley to the east and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada ridge above Lake Tahoe to the west. There are plenty of activities here for when you aren’t on the slopes. Racquetball and basketball in the indoor sports complex. Pools, jacuzzis, and a spa in which to relax your muscles after skiing. Snowshoe tours, wine tastings, and a movie theater. Plus nearby snowmobiling, year-round boat cruises, ice skating, and snow tubing. But the biggest draw is the Hilltrac Skier Express. Use your room key to operate an eight-passenger gondola that brings you from the resort to the Heavenly Stagecoach chairlift in two-and-a-half minutes. Prefer to ski Squaw Valley, Kirkwood, or Northstar? A shuttle will bring you there instead.
At the Heavenly Mountain Resort–the largest ski area in California and Nevada–make Orion’s your first run of the day. The mile-long trail, on the Nevada side of the mountain, receives early morning sun. To ski among the trees, head to the Scorpion Woods or the Nevada Woods. You’ll be surrounded by spruce, Red Firs, and lots of powder. Take a break–for Kobe beef sliders, rock lobster quesadillas, and an amazing view–at the Gunbarrel Grill in the Lakeview Lodge. And then test your skills on Ellie’s in the afternoon. It’s on this black diamond trail that the lake feels like it’s directly below you. With your adrenaline pumping, you don’t feel cold at all.
By the end of the day, your calves ache, your thighs hurt even more, and your cheeks are pink from either the wind or the sun. But you’re so happy to be back on the mountain that you’re ready to plan your next ski trip. Whistler, Mount Snow, or Zermatt? All possibilities since it’s only November.