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Pro tip: Squaw Valley has the best terrain of any ski resort in the Tahoe area. The resort is vast, with a rich mix of lifts that can get skiers up the mountain via a variety of paths. The base area has undergone a sea change during the last decade, and swanky lodging is easy to find. But skiers can still go ski-bum style here, in deference to where the roots of this place remain: in the Palisades, with the big air huckers.  MORE

Core Strenghts

Squaw Valley
Overall
83.8
Travel Ease
73.6
Expert
59.1
Overall
Overall PAF Score

Overall
Rank

16

Rank in
Region

1

Rank in
State

1

This resort is often compared with:

Heavenly
Kirkwood
Jackson Hole
Best time for snow at
Squaw Valley
Snow quality compared w/
rest of North American resorts
Last 10 Days of Snowfall at Squaw Valley

Powder
Forecast

Powder Forecast
Wednesday
Day
0"
Night
0-1"
Thursday
Day
0-1"
Night
0"
Friday
Day
0"
Night
0"
Saturday
Day
0"
Night
0"
Sunday
Day
0"
Night
0"
True Snow: 363" per year
Snow Quality Rank

87

Accounts for resorts' snow quantity, moisture content, latitude, elevation, and slope aspects.

Dump Potential Rank

82

Squaw Valley is ranked No. 82 in North America for its total snowfall during an average season.

Historical Powder Odds
Daily Lottery

% of days with more than 6" of snow

14.6%

Extended Stay

% of months with more than 90" of snow

29.1%

Drought Threat

% of months with less than 30" of snow

34.3%

*Special thanks to Tony Crocker and Bestsnow.net.

Dump Potential Rank

82

Squaw Valley is ranked No. 82 in North America for its total snowfall during an average season.

Snow
Quality
Rank

87

Accounts for resorts' snow quantity, moisture content, latitude, elevation, and slope aspects.

Total Snow Score

This score accounts for total snow quantity, its moisture content, the resort's latitude, elevation, and its slope aspects, which affect total snow preservation.

Trail Breakdown

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Vertical Drop

2850 ft

9050 ft
Base Elevation: 6200 ft

Slope Aspects

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All the details
The Skiing

The ridge that runs from Granite Chief to Squaw Peak includes dozens of chutes, crannies and steep pitches that will keep any steeps addict happy for several days. The skiing off of KT-22, far to skier’s right, also includes plenty of cliff bands, drops and bowl skiing. Squaw Valley’s terrain is the best of any of the West Coast ski areas.

There are plenty of blue runs for intermediates and people not looking to scare themselves, although most of San Francisco has made arrangements to congregate on these runs on Saturdays and Sunday mornings.

The lift system at Squaw Valley is the most interesting of any U.S. mountain, with a full-size tram and a funitel, which is a type of gondola that runs on two cables instead of one, allowing it to run faster and in wind conditions that can shut down most other lifts. It is the only funitel in the United States. On top of these two stalwart people movers, Squaw has a bevy of fast, detachable chairlifts and even some fixed-grip triples for good measure.

Town

Interesting factoid of the day: Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics. Despite that, the village at Squaw has only begun to burgeon during the last decade, adding top-end condos and hotels along with the requisite Starbucks—and on the mountain, the first and only ski-in, ski-out Starbucks in the world. But Squaw’s village has a long way to go to compare well with some of the stalwarts in the Rockies. The Town of Truckee, with a legitimate Western main street, is 20 minutes away, but lodging isn’t as thick as you might expect in town, so getting that ski town experience is possible, but it’s not optimized like other towns that truly grew up around skiing.


A few words on the Snow at Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley is the poster child of Sierra snow volatility. 15.7% of winter days see 6 inches or more of snow and 30% of winter months see 90 inches or more, but 36% of winter months see less than 30 inches. In the big years extreme terrain than would never be skiable on most mountains is well covered at Squaw. In the lean years skiable terrain can be quite restricted, particularly in lower sectors farther from the Sierra Crest. Those lower sectors can also get rain due to the lowest base elevation at Tahoe. Sierra average snow density of 12% is not the blower of the Rockies but easily managed on modern fat rockered skis.

Accumulation and Preservation

ith its steep terrain and erratic snowfall Squaw averages 2/3 open at Christmas. The top third of seasons have a holiday base of 6+ feet with most of the steep terrain skiable. In the worst third of seasons Squaw is no more than 1/3 open at Christmas and in the worst 10% it is less than 10% open. Despite relatively low elevation, Squaw skis very well on most spring days. Half the area faces north, and most of the rest faces east and can be timed for mid-morning sun. The late season often runs until Memorial Day with tram access to some of the upper lifts.