Kirkwood Resort,California

General Feel The Kirkwood Resort is only a short drive from Lake Tahoe, but it's in a league of its own. Kirkwood has some stellar terrain that can get even the most adventurous skiers a little nervous. But the thing that Kirkwood is doing, that not many other resorts are doing is a beyond the boundaries program, which allows novice backcountry users lessons and guides to safely access the backcountry.

kirkwood california

Quick Facts.

  • Season: November to April
  • Ticket Price: $72 for Full Day Midweek Adult
  • Night Skiing: No
  • Average Snowfall: 550 inches /13.97m
  • Acres: 2,300 acres
  • Runs: 65+
  • Longest Trail: 2.5 miles / 4km
  • Lifts: 14
  • Vertical Drop: 2,000 ft / 609m
  • Elevation: Base – 7,800 ft - 2377m / Summit – 9,800 ft-2987m
  • Snowmaking: 6% (on 4 lifts top to bottom)
  • Terrain Parks: 4
  • Terrain
  • Beginner – 15%
  • Intermediate – 50%
  • Expert – 35%


The Backcountry programs cannot be missed. Be sure to play in the Village Snow Play Area. Two new surface lifts this season really open up the terrain. Kirkwood resort is home to the North American Freeskiing Qualifiers. It takes place near the Thunder Saddle terrain.

Off Piste.

Kirkwood's in-bounds terrain is epic, but the backcountry is amazing. In bounds, Kirkwood is steep, powdery, and nearly perfect if you love skiing. The lifts like the Cornice Express will give you access to runs like Wagon Wheel Bowl or Sentinel Bowl – two unbelievably wide open bowls that funnel into some nice trees.

One new surface lift allows you to take laps on Lookout Vista and the main chutes of Thunder Saddle area. Another one opens up the picture perfect skiing near Fawn Ridge and the famous Wave Run.

There is other terrain that is incredibly cool, but it sometimes doesn't even get mentioned because it lives in the shadows of Thunder Saddle and the Wagon Wheel lift. Be sure to explore the Sunrise lift for long steep intermediate and advanced runs like Happiness Is or Hully Gully. And ski the expert terrain under the Sisters if you dare.

But be sure to check out the backcountry access. Kirkwood helps people experience the backcountry unlike any other resort. Guides and instructors can take you out in the relatively safe maritime snow pack to teach you about avalanche safety and show you backcountry powder. It's awesome. Hopefully more resorts will learn from this terrific program.

Family Rating.

This place may not be the best place to take the kids, but it's not bad either. Kirkwood is a charging mountain, but families are welcomed. If you want to ski, you can always put your kids in day care for the day, but if you put them in ski school they'll be keeping up with you in no time flat.

When it's time to take a family day, you can do plenty. Restaurant selection is great, evening snow cat tours are tons of fun, the kids will love to go tubing, a massage may get rid of any aches and pains from the day before, and dog sled rides are an adventure for sure. One of the coolest things at the Kirkwood Resort is the Village Snow Play area where you, or your kids, can build snow caves, snow forts, and more. Shovels and snow are available for play all day long.

Food and Restaurants.

The Kirkwood Resort is a bit isolated from any major cities, so it's pretty self-contained. This means there are lots of great restaurants right near the mountain to enjoy. If you want a quick bite try Monte Wolfe's Mountain Kitchen. Snowshoe Thompson is great for breakfasts or power lunches. The Outback Station is the place to eat on the hill.


The Tiki Bar is a fun time. But the Off the Wall Bar may be the best if the weather is nice for an après ski fiesta. Bub's Pub is also a good choice if you enjoy ski videos, brick oven pizza, and happy hour.

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