The Snow Report
Sierra-at-Tahoe has much that’s unique about it. But its “Burton Star Wars Experience” probably needs to be mentioned first. It exists to teach kids (ages three to six) how to snowboard. “Younglings and Padawans will learn using the ways of the Force,” the website says, “with Jedi Master Yoda's teaching methods—movement, navigation, and control.” Yoda's Riglet Park features Burton gear and wood carvings of the films’ characters, including R2-D2 and Chewbacca.
Not little (or a nerd)? Sierra’s got something for you, too: With 46 trails covering 2,212 vertical feet, seven terrain parks, a two-lane tube park with rope tows, and snowshoeing, this resort has almost anything you’d want—except for a bed.
For that, drive (or take the free shuttle) 12 miles out to South Lake Tahoe, which pulses with casino-hotels like Harrah's, Harveys, and the modern MontBleu. Closer to Sierra-at-Tahoe, though, are rental homes and winter camping spots, if that’s your speed.
It snows a lot here—480 inches per year—so the resort never makes its own powder. Using that as a launching point, the sustainability commitment here is robust: All office materials get recycled, and heavy machinery runs on biodiesel. To get into the act, you can offset your trip by buying a green tag for your lift ticket. For free parking, drive a hybrid here or, better yet, use the website’s “carpool and rideshare” section.
Pricing is reasonable and deals abound: A $39 first-timer package, which must be booked online, includes a 2.5-hour lesson, gear rental, and a lift ticket. A gear-rental season pass costs $115 and lasts for all of winter. Active-duty military get in free on Sundays, and firefighters and police enjoy weekday discounts.
Any money you save, you may want to take into town: South Lake is like a tinier, much prettier Vegas, with gambling venues and nightclubs (Vex, Cabo Wabo, and Opal are best) that shake ‘til dawn.
CONTACT: (530) 659-7453, sierraattahoe.com
SEASON: Mid-December to late April
TICKETS: General: $77 ($54 each if you buy a 3-pack), ages 13 to 22: $67; ages 5 to 12: $19, ages 65 to 69: $53, ages 70 and older: $28, ages 4 and younger: free. Up to $145 per day for the “Burton Star Wars Experience.”