Independents Day: Sierra at Tahoe, Calif.

Whether you're an Olympic gold medalist or a family looking for fun, there's something for everyone at this classic independent California ski area.
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Sierra at Tahoe

The terrain can get a little spice at Sierra at Tahoe.

For kids, you can’t ask for a better place to learn to ski than Sierra-at-Tahoe, 25 minutes from South Lake Tahoe along scenic Highway 50. This is the kind of low-key place where lift tickets cost $76 a day, kids under four ski free, and families can ride the Grandview Express together to the top of the mountain and find everything from beginner-friendly cat tracks down Sugar n’ Spice to steep glades in the trees off Preacher’s Passion.

Don’t be fooled: Sierra has plenty of tougher terrain. When they’re open, the five backcountry gates into Huckleberry Canyon offer some of the finest powder skiing in the Sierra. (Don’t go without a friend and backcountry safety gear.) The terrain parks here are literally the breeding grounds of Olympic stars: Two-time Olympic champion in snowboard slopestyle Jamie Anderson and ski halfpipe Olympic gold medalist Maddie Bowman both grew up here. Even the wee ones are welcome in the park, thanks to well-designed toddler-sized jumps and features.

Sierra is home to everyone from the skier in jeans from Sacramento to the family from South Lake Tahoe with triplet four-year-old boys and parents who rip. When you go, grab a couple of midday tacos from the Baja Grill at the base of West Bowl and slide into an Adirondack chair in the sun. By day’s end, let the kids sled on the snowy hill in front of the lodge while you order up beer and curly fries at The Pub. Everyone is happy.

More Great Independent Resorts Worth Celebrating

Wolf Creek, Colo.

Cannon Mountain, N.H.

Mount Bohemia, Mich.

Bridger Bowl, Mont.

Mt. Rose, Nev. 

Mt. Baker, Wash.

Originally published in the January 2020 issue of SKI Magazine. For more great writing delivered directly to your inbox, SUBSCRIBE NOW.