TRAILS & SLOPES
• 97 trails – 27% advanced, 60% intermediate, 13% beginner
• 3,170 acres of terrain
• Longest run = 1.4 miles (2.09 km) – Logger’s Loop
• Nine 1-mile long (1.6 km, 220 acres) advanced runs on The Backside
• Lookout Mountain – 443 acres of advanced terrain; opened January 2001
• 344 acres of backcountry terrain (Sawtooth Ridge) open for experts when conditions permit
• 7 advanced gladed runs: The Camp Glade, Sugar Pine Glade, Monument Glade, Comstock Glade, Rendezvous Glade, Lookout Glade and Sawmill Glade
• Expanded beginner teaching area featuring sculpted Smart Terrain™ that the resort has successfully demonstrated helps improve the learning curve for beginning skiers and snowboarders.
TERRAIN PARKS & PIPES
• Park Designer: Northstar Terrain Park Crew and Snow Park Technologies (SPT)
• Seven Terrain Parks (all terrain park features are rated small, medium or large)
o Burton Progression Park (small and medium)
o Moonshine (small)
o The Straits (large)
o Pinball (medium and large)
o Pipeline (large)
o The Stash (small, medium and large)
o Lil’ Stash (small)
• Regularly cut Superpipe on Pipeline
LIFTS – 20 total (Uphill capacity of 37,891 skiers per hour)
• Two gondolas (one express, one pulse)
• One six-pack express
• Seven express quad chairlifts
• Two triple chairlifts
• One fixed grip quad chairlift
• Two surface lifts
• Five Magic Carpets
ELEVATION & CLIMATE
• Base = 6,330 feet (1,929 meters)
• Summit = 8,610 feet (2,624 meters)
• Vertical = 2,280 feet (695 meters)
• Average Annual Snowfall = 350 inches (9 meters)
ON-SITE FACILITIES & AMENITIES
• A variety of on-mountain dining facilities, including mid-mountain and summit day lodges
• Ski & Snowboard School for children and adults
• Cross-Country Ski & Snowshoe Center offering 40km of groomed and tracked trails (includes track, skate, snowshoe and Telemark)
• Two rental equipment shops (Village and mid-mountain)
• Two demo centers (Village and mid-mountain)
• Complimentary on-site shuttle service
• Licensed childcare for kids ages 2+ (license no. 293610610)
• Village at Northstar™ featuring unique shops and restaurants, bars, grocers, overnight ski storage, locker room, two movie theaters and WiFi Internet access
• Apex Bungy trampoline and Ropes Challenge
• Experiential opportunities including candle, mosaic, teddy bear making, pottery painting and jewelry design
• 9,000 square foot outdoor skating rink
• On-site gas station
• Recreation Center with outdoor heated lap pool, outdoor spas, saunas, fitness center and teen center (for Northstar Resort lodging guests only)
• Lift-accessed tubing hill
• More than 5,000 square feet of on-site, year-round conference and banquet facilities with experienced event planners
• State-of-the-art Snowell tuning facility for skis and snowboards
•Day storage lockers and complimentary overnight ski and board check
• Largest snowmaking system of any resort in North Lake Tahoe covering more than 50 percent of Northstar Resort’s 97 trails
• More than 220 on-site lodging units for rent through Northstar Central Reservations, 1.800.GO.NORTH (466.6784). Accommodations range from condominiums to hotel-style units, to spacious mountain homes with some ski-in/ski-out rentals available.
• All Northstar Resort lodging guests receive access to the Recreation Center featuring a lap pool, spas, game room, sauna and health club for a small fee.
• New 1-4 bedroom luxury condominiums in the new Village at Northstar available to rent through Tahoe Mountain Resorts Lodging.
• New 2-3 bedroom luxury condominiums available to rent through Hyatt Residence Club.
• Situated at mid-mountain at Northstar, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe features ski-in/ski-out access, mountain valet services, Manzanita, the resort’s signature restaurant, and a 17,000 square foot spa and fitness center. The year-round resort property includes 170 guest rooms, 23 private Ritz-Carlton Residences and 25 Ritz-Carlton Club fractional ownership units.
Mid-November to mid-April, weather and conditions permitting. Lifts operate from 8:30am-4pm daily.
Northstar is one of those ski resorts that have it all: varied slopes, beautiful scenery, a lively village, lots of apres ski extra activities, and family programs for all ages, including babies.
We love their lodging options: we've stayed in the Northstar Village as well as in a larger house in one of the nearby neighborhoods. Access to the slopes is easy either way: village condos are slope-side, literally steps from the gondola, but homes have a free shuttle that's very dependable. All lodging has pool and hot tub access of some sort, and all lodging we've experienced had full-sized washers and dryers.
We love the community feel of the central ice-skating rink, with its fireside seating and supply of marshmallows to roast. Even though Northstar is a large resort, it has a cozy feel. This is due to both the nice design of the mountain amenities and the friendly staff.
We spent ski week (Feb 18th-25th 2011) at Northstar Resort. We chose Northstar primarily for its highly rated ski school, which my 5 year old daughter attended, along with 2 of her friends. The short story is that we found it over-rated. For the long version, read on.
My least favorite thing about Northstar is the time wasted on logistics. Just getting everyone where they are supposed to be is maddeningly difficult. For example: ski school starts promptly at 8:30 (for first timers) or 9:30 (for kids who already have their equipment and/or are attending consecutive days). Drop-offs are a two parent job. Parent A drops off Parent B and the kids and goes to park the car in Timbuktu. An hour later (not exaggerating), Parent A returns. Meanwhile, Parent B is freezing to death, standing outside waiting to check the kids in for ski school. Hopefully, if all has gone according to plan, with no meltdowns, forgotten gear or clothing, the kids will be checked into school and Parent B will reunite with Parent A. They will both head to Starbucks for a fix. Unfortunately, Starbucks will be so jam-packed with 10,000 other exhausted parents that there will be nowhere to sit. So, Parents A and B will take their beverages (for which they waited 20 minutes) back out in the cold and try to find a seat next to the ice-rink. In theory, these cushy, upholstered seats are surrounded by heat lamps, but in reality it won't matter because the seats are 1) covered in trash and discarded beverage cups and 2) still damp and cold from the night's frost. Not to mention also packed with humanity. And dogs. Lots and lots of dogs.
Let's say our plucky parents decide that they want to get a bit of skiing in. They wait in line to pay for their pricy lift tickets. By now it is at least 10 am, and the hordes have descended. It is crowded. There are people everywhere. Our intrepid parents are dodging errant ski-poles, ducking to avoid being smacked upside the head by someone's skis. It’s like regular medieval gauntlet. And they aren't even on the slopes yet!
Now, the parents must rent equipment. So, they head downstairs to fill out paperwork, stand in line to pay for their rentals. Stand in line to pick up their boots. Walk back upstairs in their ski boots (!!!) and stand in line to get their skis. Now, they get in line for the Gondola. God help them if they didn't pay the extra $20 for the "Fast Pass" because they will be standing in line for at least 30 minutes.
By now it is about 11:30 and they have just arrived at "mid-mountain" where the ski lifts are located. They are starting to get hungry. And they need the bathroom. So, they decide to "grab a quick bite to avoid the lunch rush". Too bad everyone else is also avoiding the same rush. 30 minutes later, they have their mediocre, over-priced hamburger, but alas, there is no place to sit in the aging, dismal “Mid Mountain” cafeteria building. So, they smile wanly and squeeze in with another family (who has staked out a massive table for the day, spread out all of their gear, and then left for an hour of skiing). Now, they are lucky it is round about 12:30. There are exactly 2.5 hours left before the parents must again get in line to ride the Gondola down and pick their kids up from ski school.
The parents, who have paid dearly (with both their money and their sanity) for the privilege of skiing at Northstar, soldier out to try a few runs. Being only average skiers, they are stuck on the crowded, dangerous, “green” and “blue” runs with the ski school kids and insane snowboarding punks. They get about 5 runs in, if they are very very lucky.
At the end of the day, the parents must return their gear, collect their kids, and wait, in the cold, dim late afternoon shadows, for the shuttle bus to take them back to their car. And then, they will wait in line to exit the resort, finally getting home, oh about 6 pm. Exhausted, cranky, and hundreds of dollars poorer; Not such a good day.
This place was actually our second choice to stay in tahoe but we are beyond happy we stayed there. My kids had so much fun and the look on their faces in the playing in the snow was priceless. I would stay there over and over again. Northstar was a great place to stay and I encourage other families to look into it! My oldest was happy there were children his age around (4 to 5). Where we stayed was cozy and my children even enjoyed their time in the room. What was great for my family is the suggestions the staff had for family friendly events. There was some great shopping near by that even my husband enjoyed.
Our First Look:
"Mommy, look snow!" my two year old excitedly shouted out as we made our way up the slightly climbing snow covered hill to The Village At Northstar. The Village has a true luxury design with a mountain chalet feel, valet or self parking, restaurants, lodging, ice skating, activities, clothing stores and more. The luxury of it all made me feel a little out of place in my non-designer ski clothes, but the friendly attitudes of the loading zone staff and the smiles and hello's from the other guests quickly put me at ease.
We reached Northstar around 4:30pm on a Sunday afternoon our first day, unloaded our kids, grabbed our sled, and found a small hill in the village for them to take their first sled ride. Because the ski lifts had just closed for the day, we weren't in anyone's way, but typically, sledding on the end of the slope like the one we were on (we found out later) wasn't really allowed.
The following morning, we dropped our oldest child off at ski school and our younger kiddos off at Minors' Camp and made our way through the multi-level free self-parking lot in the village. Although buses were widely available for pick up, my husband and I took advantage of our kid-free time and made the walk together down the hill through the brisk morning air. We weren't exactly sure where to go to pick up our lift tickets and rentals for skiing and snowboarding, but after asking directions from the friendly staff, and because there were many maps of the property, we found our way pretty easily. After receiving our lift tickets and rentals, we rode up the gondola to mid-mountain where almost all the ski lifts begin.
The rentals we received were in excellent condition. I received ski's and my husband, a snowboard. We didn't have any problems with them what-so-ever and they looked well maintained and were clean. My children's rentals were excellent as well. The helmets were warm and fit their heads properly- not too tight or allowing for wiggle room.
Slopes And Lifts:
I am an experienced skier, but this was my husband's first time snowboarding, so we headed over to the mid-mountain snowboarding school area so he could practice the basics of the sport. While he was practicing, I took advantage of watching some snowboarders on the Superpipe boarding up the sides, jumping, and doing all sorts of other tricks. I also noticed that since the Day Lodge is right in between the top of the gondola and the mid mountain ski school area, many tired skiers and snowboarders were taking advantage of the warm meals and drinks served while watching other people enjoy their sport of choice.
The slopes at Northstar are well maintained and all had fresh powder snow on them providing for really nice, comfortable skiing. The lines at the lifts were not crowded, and neither were the slopes. The easiest and most family-friendly trails that we enjoyed were the Lumberjack Trail leading into the Lower Main Street Trail and then the Village Run Trail. They are all easier runs best for anyone looking to take their time and enjoy themselves. For the more intermediate skier or boarder looking for freestyle, take the Vista Express lift and go down The Straights into the Halfpipe and Superpipe. This is a favorite run for snowboarders! The expert skier will appreciate almost the whole right side of the mountain as it is almost all black diamond runs specially made for thrill seekers. At the end of the day, you have an option to check your ski/boarding equipment into the overnight storage area for free, an excellent option for multiple day adventurists.
Food At Mid-Mountain:
The Day Lodge was a great place to relax mid-mountain. During the mealtime hours, it was really busy, so it was difficult to find a table. My family and I had to go upstairs to the bar area in order to find a seat. The food at the day lodge was tasty, especially their french fries, and we enjoyed looking out the windows and watching other skiers and snowboarders make their way down the mountain. They also offered soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches and more. However, if you just want a quick snack, the Euro Snack/Euro Crepe Kiosks are standing by with belgian waffles, hot dogs, crepes, coffee, cold beverages, and other snack items.
Northstar has many extra non-skiing or boarding options and activities for children and families. If there are non-skiers/boarders in your party, you'll be excited to know that there are lots of fun options to keep them occupied.
The skating rink is open from 1pm-8pm (weather permitting) and is free for adults and children alike if you bring your own skates. Otherwise, you can rent skates there for only $5- what a bargain! Many adults had ordered a hot chocolate, coffee or alcoholic beverage and were sitting in the beautiful cabana's surrounding the skating rink in plush seats and warming themselves by the outdoor fire pits while watching their kids skate. Also, there's the bungee trampoline next to the Galaxy in The Village which kids love and only costs $12 for 5 minutes.
Some other options for families is the tubing center at mid mountain, geocaching, snowshoeing, cross country, or telemarking (reservations recommended or required for all). If that's not to your liking, there's always Farrah Rale Bead Design, where children and adults alike can make their own jewelry, candle making and "bear village" (stuffed bear making) at the Villager Candle Shop, or Balance Holistic Health which offers, yoga, tai-chi, chiropractic, massage, and more. There are many other options for families and I would recommend checking the website for activity times and prices as well as seasonal options.
One thing we noticed about Northstar, was that there wasn't any designated area to take your little ones to go sledding. When we asked the staff about this, they said we could play around the Galaxy area after ski school was finished for the day, but when we got there, there was only one small hill for them to try. They still had a lot of fun, but for us, it was a letdown.
The only other downside was that the extra family activities were a bit pricey for a larger family and you definitely have to plan in advance to do them. Geocaching sounded like so much fun, who doesn't like a treasure hunt, but cost $55 per person for the trail pass, snowshoe rentals, and GPS rental.
Overall, our experience at Northstar Resort was great. The staff was friendly and accommodating and the ski lifts and slopes were beautiful and clean with freshly powdered snow. Minors' Camp and the Ski School were incredibly well run and organized with professional, well-trained staff who knew how to make kids smile and their parents feel comfortable about the safety and care of their children. We would love to come back next year and would definitely recommend Northstar to anyone!
"This review is based on a complimentary visit to Northstar Resort. I received no other compensation and the business owner did not state any requirements that I express a particular point of view."
One of the largest resorts at the lake, Northstar is a self-contained family-oriented complex laid out in a spectacular mountain and forest setting. It includes a golf course; equestrian trails and stables; mountain biking and hiking trails; shops, a deli, and a grocery; several bars and restaurants; and a plethora of nice condos, lodge rooms, and beautiful homes to rent.
Many of the lodging units come with gift baskets of coloring books and other gifts, and you can rent family movies, get a kid’s trail map, and have free use of high chairs and cribs—just ask. At the end of 2005, the village unveiled a brilliant expansion and renovation that includes new restaurants with outdoor seating, a 9,000-square-foot, year-round ice skating rink, outdoor fire pits and lounging areas, upscale shops, art galleries, and apparel stores.
Also new is the Burton Progression snowboard park designed for new boarders, a less-intimidating alternative to the 17-foot superpipe. And you will for the first time find valet parking and enclosed bus shuttles from the parking lots. You can park your car and get around entirely on foot and on the resort shuttles.
In the summer, chairlifts take hikers and bikers up to beautiful mountaintop trails, and there is a busy schedule of activities and events all year. Guided nature hikes include a lift ride and a chat with a naturalist about the plants, trees, animals, and the geology of the Sierras.