Cheap Thrills: The other ski resorts

Ever complained about out-of-this-world prices for lift tickets? Yes, I'm refering to those $50+ we have to fork out at Squaw, Heavenly, Northstar, or Alpine Meadows. Although there are days when we don't mind spending the bucks to ski in a world-class resort, there's the rest of the days when something less expensive will do.

Here is a list of some of the other ski resorts in the Tahoe area that are smaller, less expensive, but still fun to go.


Just off I-80 (top of Donner Summit at Castle Peak exit), Boreal is the only place offering night skiing (9am-9pm). It's a safe-haven for snowboarders, who might even out-number skiers.
(916) 426-3666


Off Hwy-89 six miles south of Tahoe City, Homewood has a panoramic view of the lake. It seems small but it's got 10 lifts and over 1,260 skiable acres. Wednesdays are buy one get one free days.
(800) Tahoe-4-U

Diamond Peak

Its runs and chairs sheltered from the worst elements on a cold, blustery day, Diamond Peak offers lake side trails for beginner to advanced skiers. The resort features chairlifts similar to a moving sidewalk that has been popular in Europe for a decade.

Bear Valley

Located at the end of Hwy-4 East, Bear Valley is closer than Lake Tahoe for skiers in the South Bay. With 1,280 acres of chutes, cliffs, moguls, and bowls of deep powder, the resort has an unusual layout: you get out of the car and you're looking down, rather than up, at the advanced terrain.
(209) 753-2301

Dodge Ridge

Located 30 miles east of Sonora on Hwy-108 near northern Yosemite, you don't have to drive over any cliffs to reach it. The resort has 12 lifts on an 815 acre area.
(209) 965-3474

Badger Pass (Yosemite)

This ski area is right on Yosemite and an unlikely place for skiing, but if you can get through Hwy-120 and on to Glacier Point Road to read Badger Pass, you are on for great scenery and inexpensive thrills.
(209) 372-8444

Soda Springs

Self-labeled as California's largest snow tubing resort, you will have to share half the 4 lifts with tubers, but it is still a great deal for the money for beginner skiers and snowboarders. I actually learned how to ski at Soda Springs.
(530) 426-1010

Donner Ski Ranch

The third resort off the Soda Springs/Norden exit off I-80, Donner Ski Ranch is just around the corner from Sugar Bowl, with 6 lifts and 27 runs covering the entire mountain at 7031 ft. With only a 750 ft vertical rise from the base, it is relatively flat but great for beginners who need a lot of space.


From left: Marcio, Mario, Vivien, Billy, Alan, Janis, Margaret, Michelle, Alex, and Chris.

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