Lake Tahoe Guide: Skiing at Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley)

Lake Tahoe Guide: Skiing at Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley)

Mid-mountain view skiing down Mountain Run at Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe

The entire mountain caters to skiers of all skill levels. My favorite part (and probably the most seen, yet best kept secret) is the progression plan posted on the wall where the Gold Coast Funitel empties. It provides recommendations on which runs to do, what to do if you want to try something more, and what to do when you’re done. The progression plans advances through first time beginners, beginners, intermediate 1, intermediate 2, advanced 1, and advanced 2.

Squaw Valley skiing progression plan beginner to intermediate

Squaw Valley skiing progression plan intermediate to advanced

The first time beginners and beginners routes were the reason I fell in love with Palisades from the get go. The beginner terrain includes wide and some what long runs to work on turns and parallel skis. It’s the common spot for beginner lessons so it’s also helpful to watch the different instructors and see others learning as well.

It’s honestly just a calm safe space to warm up at the very least while also getting stellar views of the lake and surrounding mountains. For now, even as I progress I like doing a run or two there to get my skis underneath me.

View from Monkey Flower at Squaw Valley in LakeTahoe wit

Favorite runs

Starting out: (easiest access is from the Tram)

A little step up: (at the top of Big Blue Express)

View of Monkey Flower Beginner Run at Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe

How to schedule a day Skiing in Tahoe

Being newly reacquainted with skiing, I wasn’t sure of what a day on the slopes would look like. There are obviously different approaches, but the best thing I can say is plan a day that feels right for you. I’ve skied with friends that want to be the first lift up the mountain and have the last run at the end of the day. Nothing wrong with it, but I tend to take a more relaxed approach. Skiing is something I do for fun or for leisure if you will, so I don’t push myself out of bed super early to be on the slopes right away.

The best schedule for a successful day skiing

Most slopes are only open 9 am-4 pm. I was initially surprised by the earlier end time, especially as days get longer and sunset isn’t until 6 or 7. With the ski day wrapping before 4, the best approach is to get onto the mountain as early as possible. This definitely conflicts with my body being more of a night owl and less of an early bird, but I always try my best. Obviously the closer you stay to the mountain, the less you have to worry about getting up early. Staying at the resort comes with a higher price tag, so I’m most likely staying 15 minutes to no more than 30 minutes drive away.

As a note for beginners, if you’re bringing your own equipment, you’ll most likely put your boots on in the parking lot and carry your skis to the lift. It can be a lot to figure out. Putting on boots of the first time can take some work and walking in them isn’t the easiest. I usually don’t fully strap in my ski boots until I get to the top of my first run because it gives me a little wiggle room to walk.

Planning your meals for a day of skiing at Palisades

Although not super nutritious, the Belgian waffle stand just in front of the Gold Coast Funitel is delicious. That and a cup of coffee can be a great way to start the day. I like to bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated especially being at higher elevation and some snacks to get me through the day and time lunch for when it feels right.

Lunch wise, we’ve brought our own sandwiches, but the food at the mid-mountain Gold Coast area is great. From pizza and burgers to chili and noodles there’s plenty to choose from. If I’m feeling festive, I might even have a midday beer. This is my chance to refuel to get me through the second half of the day on the mountain.