Kirkwood Ski Resort CA
At the Kirkwood Ski Resort you might not experience great views of Lake Tahoe, but Kirkwood CA has so many other pluses such as one of the highest resort snowfalls in the world, and an extensive selection of tricky terrain. Who cares about lake views when you can have powder hound nirvana?!
Kirkwood Ski Resort has been undergoing a major metamorphosis and now has the best of both worlds; the conveniences of a destination resort, along with the friendly and relaxed atmosphere you’d expect of a day hill. The new-ish village includes a handful of eateries, bars and other facilities, and developers have also been busy building lots of slopeside condos.
Kirkwood CA is still a long way from being a luxury destination resort. “The Wood” is refreshingly simple and most true powder hounds love it that way. If you want to wear your spiffy apres boots to head out shopping for the afternoon, go on a sleigh ride, or go to various bars and restaurants, you won’t find that at Kirwood. Perhaps go to Northstar
or Squaw Valley
Kirkwood Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Kirkwood Ski Resort has 87 marked trails, 2,000 feet (610 metres) of vertical drop, and 2,300 skiable acres (930 hectares). For those who easily get bored (particularly intermediates), there might not be enough terrain to support a week long trip, but Kirkwood Resort is definitely awesome for at least a few days.
The Kirkwood ski area
has lots of incredibly interesting terrain features. With plenty of ridgeline at the top, Kirkwood has many opportunities to launch off cornices and rock features, and there are also diverse gullies and varied trees.
Of course there is a balance of terrain for those who don’t want terrifying chutes and steeps. There is a designated beginner area away from the hoons, and trails for intermediates that aren’t too gnarly despite trail names such as “Ditch of Doom” and “Trench of Terror”! The official trail stats are beginner 12%, intermediate 20%, advanced 38% and expert 30%.
Whilst neighbouring Lake Tahoe ski resorts
may suffer from wet powder unaffectionately called Sierra cement, thanks to the altitude, Kirkwood receives better quality snow and masses of it. Kirkwood Ski Resort scores an amazing 600 inches (15.2m) of the white stuff on average per season.
Where is Kirkwood CA?
Kirkwood Ski Resort in California is contained within the Eldorado National Forest, only 34 miles south (about 45 minutes drive) of the cashino and glitz of South Lake Tahoe
(and the associated Heavenly Ski Resort
which is also on the Epic lift pass), which as the name would suggest is at the south end of Lake Tahoe.
Whilst the central village is rather small, there are lots of privately owned, resort managed condos. Some Kirkwood condos are ski-in ski-out, many require a short walk to the slopes, and there are also condos in the Meadow Region which is close to the Timber Creek Day Lodge (beginner area and kids ski school).
The Mountain Club is centrally located in the village with ski-in ski-out access. This slopeside Kirkwood hotel has rooms with 2 queen beds, and 1 and 2 bedroom suites with kitchens. This hotel can be booked as part of a Kirkwood ski package
Kirkwood Lodging Listings
If you’re wanting to combine Kirkwood with other Tahoe ski resorts, or want a selection of non-skiing activities and 24 hour nightlife, then consider South Lake Tahoe lodging
or go for the casinos on the Nevada side.
South Lake Tahoe Hotels Listings
Stateline Casino Listings
Ski Resort Facilities
The facilities and services are located in the small village and also at a separate beginners base area at the Timber Creek Day Lodge which houses the kids ski school, but unfortunately no day care centre. The ski school offers lessons for ages 3 and up, and there are also speciality clinics and programs for advanced riders (kids, teens and adults).
Kirkwood Mountain Sports shops are located in the village and at Timber Creek, and offer ski and snowboard equipment rentals, and sell hardwear, backcountry safety gear, lots of outerwear, accessories, and souvenirs.
Dining and Nightlife
The daytime food options are somewhat limited with a cafeteria, grill, coffee shop/bakery, and a couple of restaurants and bars, and some folks complain that much of the food is a bit pricy and unhealthy.
Most overnight guests stay in their condos in the evenings and cook, but you’ll want to BYO groceries as there’s no supermarket at Kirkwood, just a little general store.
There are a few evening drinking and dining options, although some are only open on weekends or holidays. The Wall is an upscale bar and restaurant, the Cornice Grill is more casual, and there’s also an outdoor umbrella bar. The non-resort-owned bar 7800 is rather popular (albeit somewhat smelly) and a place where you can avoid Vail priced beers. Or the Kirkwood Inn is a rustic après ski or dinner destination.
Summary of Pros and Cons of Kirkwood Mountain Resort
- The main highlight of the resort is the very varied skiing and boarding terrain, particularly for advanced to expert riders.
- The Wood has the highest ski resort snowfall in the world, with the exception of some freaky Japan ski areas, Alyeska and Mt Baker.
- The snow quality is often better than most other Tahoe ski resorts, because the top and base elevations are the 2nd highest in Lake Tahoe.
- The vibe of the resort is generally low-key and friendly.
- There are various lodging options that are very close to the slopes or ski-in ski-out.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
- There’s not much to do other than ski or snowboard.
- The nightlife is rather subdued or absent, and there is minimal choice for evening restaurants.
- Considering that Kirkwood Resort is still evolving, don’t expect too much pampering, foofoo shopping, or glitz and glamour. The low-key peaceful attitude of Kirkwood, and the absence of the noise of the ker-ching is probably a plus for the ski area.
- It is close enough to South Lake Tahoe, but far enough removed and away from civilization. As a result, Kirkwood is less crowded than the main Tahoe ski resorts, and possibly also more affordable. The slow lifts probably also keep the crowds away.
- The Epic pass makes it very affordable if you want to ride at Kirkwood (or the other Vail Resorts) for lots of days. The downside is that it brings more powder poachers.
Ski tours in or near Kirkwood