Northstar3.5 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
  • Recommend
    80%
  • Would Revisit
    80%

Northstar California
Northstar California
Some of the Northstar lodging is ski in ski out
Some of the Northstar lodging is ski in ski out
The ice skating rink in the Village at Northstar
The ice skating rink in the Village at Northstar
Northstar Resort is very family friendly
Northstar Resort is very family friendly
The Northstar lodging is very upscale
The Northstar lodging is very upscale
The Northstar Ski Resort has lots of groomed runs
The Northstar Ski Resort has lots of groomed runs
Northstar California
Northstar California
Village at Northstar
Village at Northstar
Northstar Ski Resort California
Northstar Ski Resort California
The lift infrastructure at Northstar is impressive
The lift infrastructure at Northstar is impressive
Northstar California
Northstar California
Village at Northstar
Village at Northstar
The pool at the ski-in ski-out Ritz Carlton Hotel
The pool at the ski-in ski-out Ritz Carlton Hotel
The terrain parks are a strength of Northstar CA
The terrain parks are a strength of Northstar CA
Lots of groomed cruisers
Lots of groomed cruisers
Northstar skiing is all below the treeline
Northstar skiing is all below the treeline
Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe: luxury ski-in ski-out Northstar hotel
Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe: luxury ski-in ski-out Northstar hotel
The Northstar village has lots of shops
The Northstar village has lots of shops
Northstar has good tree skiing
Northstar has good tree skiing
The Northstar ski school is highly regarded
The Northstar ski school is highly regarded

Northstar

Northstar Ski Resort

Northstar California (formerly Northstar at Tahoe) has transformed itself from a simple day ski area into one of the best destination resorts in the US. Since 2010, the Northstar Ski Resort has been owned by Vail Resorts, so it has the characteristics you’d expect of a Vail Resort; high quality customer service and very well developed infrastructure and amenities.

The Northstar Ski Resort is the Disneyland of ski resorts with all the bells and whistles you could dream of. Sure you might need to pay a pretty penny for the privilege of staying at the upscale Northstar Resort, but the Star is very fine indeed. And just like Disneyland, kids will adore Northstar Tahoe, as will their parents!

Northstar Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The Northstar Ski Resort is reasonably sizeable with 97 trails spread across 3,170 acres (1,283 hectares), and a vertical drop of 2,280 feet (695 metres). It’s easy to navigate with minimal traversing, especially compared to other Tahoe ski resorts like Heavenly, and you won’t run the risk of ending up in Nevada for the night!

Northstar Tahoe is renowned for the impeccable corduroy groomers and the abundance of tree-lined cruisers. Beginners are incredibly well catered for, and the Northstar Ski Resort is absolute heaven for intermediates with 60% of the trails rated as blue, although on some of the trails you may experience a little déjà vu. Some of the black runs are groomed and appropriate for intermediates, or they are fantastic for advanced riders to really let it rip!

Some hard-core riders call it “Flatstar” because it’s reasonably mellow and there’s nothing to frighten experts, particularly relative to the gnarly Squaw Valley with its cliffs and alpine cornices. At the Northstar Ski Resort, the terrain is below the tree-line, so the main drawcard for advanced riders is the tree skiing on Lookout Mountain as well as the glades on the Backside.

Northstar Snow

Like many other California ski resorts, Northstar has the fabulous combination of plentiful sunny days and an abundance of snow fall. Northstar Tahoe receives an average of 350 inches (9 metres) of snow per season, and to help Mother Nature along, there are lots of snowmaking guns that amazingly cover about 50% of the terrain.

Where is Northstar Tahoe?

The Northstar Ski Resort is one of the northern Tahoe ski resorts in California, just 7 miles north of Lake Tahoe (Kings Beach) and 7 miles south of the town of Truckee.

Considering the great local transportation options, a Northstar ski vacation can easily incorporate other nearby Lake Tahoe ski resorts such as Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl, Homewood and Mt Rose. With that much terrain on offer, you could never be bored!

Northstar Lodging

The Northstar Village is medium sized and incorporates upscale lodgings, lots of shops, restaurants, and other amenities. Northstar lodging primarily consists of luxurious properties. There are modern condos for families or groups, multi-bedroom mountain homes, as well as some pampering at the 5-star Ritz-Carlton Hotel. You can look at Northstar lodging options here, including rates and availability.

More economical lodging options can be found on the north shore of Lake Tahoe (7 miles away) or in the town of Truckee (6 miles away), which has some western charm.

Activities

The Northstar Village has a big ice skating rink. If you don’t want to don some skates, you can just watch the action rink-side whilst sipping on a cocktail. Or you can swap stories of the day beside one of the many fire pits whilst gobbling on a s'more (a roasted marshmallow and chocolate treat).

Other than shopping, other North Star activities include cross-country skiing, tubing, snowmobiling, dog sled tours, and snowshoeing, or for the ultimate relaxation you can indulge at a day spa.

Summary of Pros and Cons of Northstar California

Pros
  • The Village at Northstar is upscale and has plenty to offer. The mid-mountain Ritz-Carlton Northstar hotel is also fabulous.
  • The lift infrastructure is impressive and there are various fast chair lifts.
  • The resort has a great family atmosphere and a well regarded kids ski school program. It’s ideal for families (with children 3 and up – child care is only for kids 2 and up and it’s in an inconvenient location).
  • Northstar California has great beginner terrain and an abundance of trails for intermediates.
  • It can be used as a base to explore other nearby Tahoe ski resorts.
  • Riders on the storm… the trees can be fabulous when it’s puking snow and nearby resorts are on wind hold.
  • A major strength is the freestyle terrain.
Cons
  • Northstar is very expensive, but good things never come cheaply. You have to pay truckloads for food, lift tickets, equipment rentals, ski school and lodging. If Northstar is within your budget, enjoy the exclusivity, and if not then go elsewhere.
  • Northstar is popular for good reason, so it can be crowded, particularly on weekends.
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
  • The Northstar Ski Resort is a very groomed hill. They’d groom the glades if they could!
  • One of the reasons for the popularity of Northstar is the Epic Pass. Day lift tickets at Northstar cost a bomb, yet thankfully there are various Epic multi-day passes available that provide access to Heavenly ski resort and Kirkwood, as well as other Vail Resorts. These passes provide great value.
  • Northstar is just a pimple of a hill; it’s not a mountain. There is nothing particularly steep, and the elevation isn’t very high so the snow can be inferior to neighbouring resorts. However there is an amazing amount of snowmaking to provide decent cover… if you like riding fake snow.

Ski tours in or near Northstar

Cat Skiing Tours
Pacific Crest Day Cat Skiing DETAILS
LAKE TAHOE | DAY CAT SKIING TOURS
8 - 12 Runs | Over 12,000 vert feet
From price based on twin/double-share room.
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 399
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Escape the crowds in Lake Tahoe & come and play in the 3,000 acre private powder playground with Pacific Crest Snowcats. Book a seat for yourself, a few of you or a whole cat for a private day with your ski buddies! Seats book out early so be sure to book soon.
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See all Cat Skiing tours that visit Northstar here