Getting There From Reno, drive South on U.S. 395 to Scenic Highway 88 West. Ignore any instructions to the contrary from the rental car counters, who tend to send visitors to Kirkwood via a longer route. From the Bay Area, drive east on Scenic Highway 88.
When To Go February and March average the most snow, but President's week in February can be crowded.
Sleeping In The Lodge at Kirkwood features luxurious one- to three-bedroom units at the base of Chairs 5 and 6. Rates start at $299 a night. A variety of older condominiums, some with views of Kirkwood's stunning meadow, are available starting at $129 a night.
Dining Out For breakfast, make the 2-mile drive to Kirkwood Inn, and order the High-Country Skillet. For lunch, Timber Creek day lodge makes great pizza. Cornice Café, Kirkwood's only full-service restaurant, is also popular for lunch. For dinner try the signature lamb chops at Caples Lake Resort, 3.5 miles from Kirkwood.
Kicking Butt The skull and crossbones at the bottom of Chair 10 say it all. From the top, skiers can choose from seven double-black chutes.
Kicking Back Off the Wall Bar in the Lodge at Kirkwood is the most happening après-ski scene.
Off-Hill Activities Kirkwood's Cross-Country Ski Center is among the best in the West, with 80 kilometers of well-maintained trails that wind through spectacular alpine terrain.
Don't Miss Join the Full Moon tours of Kirkwood Meadows on cross-country skis or snowshoes.
Vital Stats 2,300 skiable acres; 12 lifts; base elevation 7,800 feet; summit elevation 9,800 feet; vertical rise 2,000 feet; average annual snowfall 500 inches; lift-ticket price $46; season pass price $815; discounts can bring a midweek pass as low as $199.
Information (209) 258-6000, (800) 967-7500; www.skikirkwood.com
Buying In The newest developments are Lost Cabins on the Meadow's edge, not far from Chair 6, and Snowcrest Condominiums at the base of Chair 6. For more information, call Kirkwood Real Estate at (888) 593-7767.