Unforgettable Skiing at Palisades Tahoe: Resort Review

Mimi Slawoff Avatar

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort Review - Palisades Tahoe in California is a renowned ski resort with year-round activities.
Palisades Tahoe in California is a renowned ski resort with year-round activities. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

The writer was hosted.

As I skied off the Gold Coast chairlift in Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley) in California, I stood to one side to admire the panoramic views of snowy slopes, blue skies and Lake Tahoe. I wished my ski buddy, my childhood friend Dana, was there to see it. But she was back in the condo or maybe in the village.

We ski together every year, usually in Mammoth Mountain, the closest world-class resort to our homes in Los Angeles. A week before our scheduled trip, I sprained my ankle and she had a sore shoulder.

Rather than reschedule our trip, we went anyway, and – for many reasons – I am so glad we did, even though it was a different ski trip than we originally planned. Thanks to the knowledgeable guys in the demo rentals shop who set me up with boots and skis to provide the support I needed to safely ski my best, I was able to ski on all three days of our trip. I skied in the mornings and met up with Dana in the afternoons so we could explore the area together. We had a blast and plan to return. Here’s why.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Did you know that you can rent your ski gear? The Ski KITs are rented at 90% off of the retail cost and shipped directly to your destination with free shipping and returns. This is a great option for families with kids who grow out of their ski gear each season. Kit’s include jackets, pants, goggles, gloves, and optional snow boots. See all rental options here.
Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort Review - View from my balcony at The Village at Palisades Tahoe.
View from my balcony at The Village at Palisades Tahoe. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

The Village at Palisades Tahoe

The cozy pedestrian-only Village at Palisades Tahoe anchors a hotel, numerous restaurants, shops, sports rentals, and a small market. Once you’re at the resort, you don’t need a vehicle to get around. The hotel and village have a laid-back, welcoming vibe that makes it easy to relax and enjoy the ambiance.  There’s nothing pretentious. Come as you are. People are here to ski or snowboard and enjoy the village. It’s a place where you can sit around the fire pit with a drink or snack and listen to live music while kids make snowballs or slurp a gelato from the village ice cream shop.

Palisades Tahoe has a long ski season, typically through Memorial Day Weekend and often until July 4th. But the resort is fun to visit year-round.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Be sure to download the user-friendly Palisades Tahoe app on your phone to check lift and trail status, track your skiing, connect with friends, see village events, and more. As a solo skier not familiar with the terrain, I used the app to see the trails accessible by each chairlift.

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort Review - View of Lake Tahoe from the top of the Gold Coast chairlift at Palisades Tahoe.
View of Lake Tahoe from the top of the Gold Coast chairlift at Palisades Tahoe. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

The Slopes – Palisades and Alpine Meadows

Palisades Tahoe encompasses two resorts, about two miles apart but connected via a gondola and shuttles. Together, they span more than 6,000 skiable acres. Palisades has a cool European-style village while Alpine has a day lodge with eateries, restrooms, and a sun deck. I enjoyed skiing at both resorts. And it’s worth visiting both whether you’re there to ski or sightseeing.

During our visit we had ideal snow and weather conditions – bluebird skies and lots of fresh snow with groomed trails. The week before a big storm dumped several feet of snow. I had so much fun skiing even though I was solo. The trails were easy to navigate and everyone was friendly. On my first and third days, I skied in Palisades. On the second day, I rode a gondola to Alpine Meadows. Dana joined me for the scenic ride on the Base to Base Gondola, which opened last year. Then she hung out at the Alpine Meadows lodge while I skied.

While riding up the mountain on the Treeline Cirque Express with a lift operator, she told me Alpine is her favorite ski resort. Lacking a village, it attracts mostly skiers and snowboarders. People are there to simply ski and ride.

SheBuysTravel Tip: If you rent ski or snowboard gear in the village, complimentary overnight storage is available next to the Olympic House in the village. Lockers are also available in the hotel.

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort Review - The Base to Base Gondola makes it easy to access both Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Meadows.
The Base to Base Gondola makes it easy to access both Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Meadows. Photo credit: Daniella Popoff

Palisades Tahoe Scenic Trams and Gondolas

The trams and gondolas are a great way to access trails higher up the mountain – whether you ski or just want to enjoy a scenic ride. Palisades is nicely laid out with beginner, intermediate and advanced runs at the top. So skiers and snowboarders of all levels get panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. One afternoon, Dana and I rode the Funitel and Aerial Tram so she could get out on the snow and enjoy the views, too.

Gold Coast Funitel

Palisades Tahoe officials told me the Funitel is the first and only one in North America. The Funitel runs on two cables (versus one for gondolas), enabling it to travel in higher winds. Another difference is that people bring their skis and snowboards inside the Funitel for the ride to the Gold Coast station. There’s a three-story food court at the top station, which is also the launch pad for skiing and snowboarding.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Ride the Funitel and ski to the Gold Coast chairlift to access a variety of terrain. Then carve your way down the intermediate Mountain Run trail to the base, or ride the Funitel back down.

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort Review - The Aerial Tram travels from the Village to High Camp.
The Aerial Tram travels from the Village to High Camp. Photo credit: Palisades Tahoe

Aerial Tram

Open year-round, the Palisades Tahoe Aerial Tram travels 1.5 miles from the base to High Camp at the summit, 8,200 feet above sea level. Dana and I boarded early enough to get seats by the windows. The large tram can hold 85 people, so most will need to stand for the approximately 10-minute ride. At the top, we enjoyed spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada range from the outdoor deck. High Camp is home to eateries, a marketplace, and the Olympic Museum, which displays memorabilia from the 1960s Winter Olympics.

In winter, you can ski on summit trails. In fact, there are several beginner trails up there. In summer, there’s disc golf, roller skating, and other activities. Years ago, when my kids were little, we spent a full day in High Camp during a summer visit. It’s a great place to hang out, play, and enjoy 360-degree views.

Read More: Where Kids Ski Free this Season

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort Review - Palisades Tahoe disco tubing.
Palisades Tahoe disco tubing. Photo credit: Palisades Tahoe

Snow Tubing

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go snow tubing. But Palisades Tahoe has snow tubing within walking distance from the village. There’s also a shuttle to the snow tube area. On select evenings there’s disco tubing with flashing lanes, lasers, and a live DJ.

Read More: Snow Tubing with Kids: Essential Tips

Explore the Neighborhood

Free public transportation makes it easy to get around North Lake Tahoe. One evening, Dana and I rode a shuttle from the village to the Everline Resort & Spa, about two miles from Palisades. There, we had a wonderful dinner with impeccable service at Sandy’s Pub, a casual restaurant with a variety of sandwiches, entrees, soups, and salads.

While I waited for my prime rib dip sandwich (served with local brown ale jus and toma truffle cheese on an amoroso bun), I read the back of the menu that features the story of Wayne and Sandy Paulsen, the founders of Olympic Valley. The couple, who had eight children (four of whom joined the US Ski Team), were instrumental in developing the area.

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort Review - Cushing Crossing is a popular spring event.
Cushing Crossing is a popular spring event. Photo credit: Palisades Tahoe

Thrilling Annual Events

The resort has several annual events. The popular Cushing Crossing features skiers and snowboarders in festive costumes crossing the Cushing Pond. The 32nd Annual Cushing Crossing takes place May 4, weather permitting.

Other events include Alpine Snow Golf, concerts, and live music in The Village at Palisades Tahoe and at Alpine Deck.

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort Review - Palisades Tahoe condo.
Palisades Tahoe condo. Photo credit: Palisades Tahoe

Palisades Tahoe Hotel

The hotel has a prime location in the village and is just steps from the slopes. Our one-bedroom, one-bath condo had a full kitchen, living room with fireplace, and a balcony with Village and slope views. There’s also a fitness center, two outdoor spas, and a lobby with a pool table.

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort Review - Tasty meals and drinks with views at 22 Bistro.
Tasty meals and drinks with views at 22 Bistro. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

The Village at Palisades Tahoe Restaurants

From a grab-n-go breakfast at Sun Bowl Acai & Poke to restaurants serving American, Irish and Mexican cuisine, there are many dining options in the village. Many offer indoor and outdoor seating. The following were among our favorites.

Wildflour Baking Company in the Olympic House

The bakery offers baked goods, breakfast bagels, burritos and lunch. But the bakery’s specialty is thick gooey chocolate chip cookies – especially good fresh out of the oven.

22 Bistro

Dana and I ate here twice – once each for lunch and dinner. The very tasty Kobe beef sliders are served with caramelized onions, gorgonzola, and 22 sauce. The Dragonfly Thai noodle bowl is a house specialty.

Rocker

Named for the ski design invented by Palisades Tahoe icon Shane McConkey, Rocker serves generous portions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For a late lunch, I had a Breakfast B.E.A.L.T. (bacon, egg, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and roasted garlic aioli) served on a brioche. I paired that with a glass of local blonde ale.

Tremigo Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar

The cozy restaurant serves traditional Mexican food and good margaritas. I can never pass up tacos, so I ordered the birria tacos with slow-cooked Adobe marinated beef while Dana enjoyed her street taco board (four tacos with a choice of meat).

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort Review - The Village at Palisades Tahoe has lodging, dining, entertainment, and activities.
The Village at Palisades Tahoe has lodging, dining, entertainment, and activities. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

Getting there from LAX to Reno

It’s easy to get there! It’s about a 4.5 – 5-hour drive from L.A. to Mammoth and at least  7 hours to Tahoe. However, flights to Tahoe (LAX to Reno International Airport) are short – one hour, and quite reasonable. We paid $166 roundtrip on JetBlue for our mid-March ski trip. From Reno, it’s a 45-minute drive to Palisades Tahoe in Olympic Valley. Shuttles, buses, and car rentals are available.

Mimi Slawoff Avatar
Native Angeleno and seasoned travel journalist Mimi Slawoff writes for numerous print and digital publications. She is also the author of Oldest Los Angeles (Reedy Press, 2022). A lifelong world traveler, Mimi is an award-winning journalist who writes about outdoor adventures, cruises, Europe and cultural activities. Mimi has three grown kids and lives with her husband and their dog, Maya, in Los Angeles.
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