Thanks to the historic California drought, it has been some time since I've visited Squaw Valley during ski season. Instead my family has come during the summer months and we have found that there is no shortage of things to do.
Here's some of the fun my family has enjoyed here:
The Adventure Center:
Located in several points around Squaw Valley, activities in the Squaw Valley Adventure Center include:
Skyjump Bungee Trampoline
Mini Golf course
In the Village:
Are you more of a crafty family? You'll enjoy Everything Hunky Dory. My family had a great time making a candle there together.
Enjoy breathtaking high flying scenery as you ride the gondola up to High Camp. At the top, there's ample hiking to enjoy along with a resort pool experience. On the day we visited there were also some lawn games and a climbing wall set up.
There are also a couple of cool nods to Squaw Valley's Olympic history. Home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, there's a free museum filled with memorabilia and artifacts from the event. Off the sun deck outside the museum, there's a great photo opportunity for grabbing a family portrait with the Olympic rings and a sweeping view of Squaw Valley and the Lake Tahoe area behind your crew!
With school-aged kids and tweens who are expert skiers and snowboarders, we love Squaw! This is not to say Squaw doesn't have plenty to do for beginners and intermediate skiers (they have a really nice learning area at mid-mountain, in the heart of the action), but their 'steeps and deeps' are some of the best we've skied. We were happy for three full ski days and had plenty more to explore.
BEST LIFTS FOR EXPERT SKIERS:
We loved KT-22 (which is well-known for expert bowls and cornices) but we also spent a lot of time on Granite Chief (where we found a lot of tree skiing, powder bowls, and moguls). The area off Headwall Chair and Siberia Express also offer great mogul runs and some hike-skiing. Siberia is the place to be for steep groomed runs when the snow is less than stellar.
Our kids love terrain parks, and what I appreciated as a parent about Squaw Valley is the existence of a small and medium park located away from the large park. When they're right next to each other, the kids go to the advanced stuff too quickly, or the advanced riders overcrowd the smaller elements. The smaller park was in the learning area just above High Camp, on the Belmont Chair. There's also a medium-sized half pipe, but it is located near the large park.
GREAT GONDOLA ACCESS AND CONVENIENT VILLAGE
The Squaw village offers lodging that's steps away from the gondola and chairs, making it really easy to get up and go in the morning. We also loved the outdoor dining at KT-Base Bar on sunny days (which happen often in the Sierras) and there's plenty of mid-mountain dining should you need it. After skiing, there's the SkyJump and climbing wall in the village area as well.
As I disclose whenever applicable, we experienced Squaw Valley as guests of the resort, for the purpose of review.
Squaw is really for experienced skiers. Not worth the money if you are starting out, like us.
The village is charming, and it is nice to have yummy places to eat that are so close to the lifts.
Maybe when we master the black diamonds, we will be back.
I have to preface that this trip was partially compensated by Squaw Valley and arranged by Trekaroo in exchange for an honest, un-biased review by yours truly. Our lodgings, lift tickets, lessons and rentals were comped. The rest of the $$$ squandered is something that we did of our own volition, but believe me, totally worth it regardless of the free diggs! In fact we had such a good time (again, un-biased) we're thinking about buying a time share...nice work Squaw Valley!
If you’re thinking of a trip to Squaw with the kids, I could not recommend it more highly. In retrospect, Squaw wasn't fantastic just because of the fancy diggs, or the world-class mountain, or even the tasty restaurants. It was how it all fit together and fit our family’s needs in one all-inclusive place. It truly has something for every interest at any age. Shopping and spa for the accident prone like me, great winter sports and challenging terrain for the seasoned veteran like The Hubs. There was ski school for the kids and those just starting out. And there were safe places to explore and play for the younger ones, and amenities and communal gathering spaces for groups of families and friends both big and small.
We went to Squaw Valley for a weekend of snow and fun and had an AWESOME time! Actually, it was more than that. Really I could proliferate non-stop for hours with adjectives describing how great it was, and still not be able to adequately come up with the right words. My son was convinced it was the best from the moment we first drove in, "This place is beautiful! It's fantastic! I love it here...can we live here forever?" And considering he's visited many ski-resorts in his short life, that's saying something!
- The location is easy to get to.
- There are lots of activities for you kids to do even if they aren't skiing.
- They have a strong focus on environment and green initiatives (geothermic heating for the win!).
- It's an all-inclusive destination (unlike Oregon skiing where there are no lodges or shops due to building protection laws).
- There are lots of things to do at night.
- The skiing/boarding is top notch with lots of runs to choose from and lots of levels to explore.
- The kid school is pretty great!
- Each of us can't wait to go back to Squaw for different reasons...Me: Spa. Son: snowpark jumps. Husband: fresh powder. Preschooler: skischool.
We stayed here a few years back just my hubby & I before we had kids and this is quite a neat little town. We visited in the summer, took our bikes and explored 24/7! We had such a great time! There is an awesome bike trail we caught right from the Condo we rented and it takes you all along the lake. It's amazing. We also bought a cheap little raft to float down the Truckee River (don't waste your money on the raft guides - the river is tiny & we were even beginners & did fine!). We cannot wait to do this trip with the kiddos!
As we took the turn into Squaw Valley, I was totally taken in by the beauty of this valley covered with grass instead of snow. Usually filled with crowds of eager skiers, in the summer time, it felt much more mellow. People were taking their time strolling at a leisurely pace though the charming village. There are several attractions that Squaw has to offer during the summer. There is an impressive ropes course, a 30' climbing wall, a small mini golf course, and miles of hiking trails. But the highlight is the magnificent cable car ride from the village straight up the mountain side that takes you up to high camp at 8,200 feet. The ride up the mountain side was truly spectacular and a must do experience. The scenery is indeed stunning as one might expect, but the ride is particularly thrilling because you ride so steeply through pronounced rock protrusions that are a canvas for any child or adult's imagination. In fact, it did captured the imagination of Disney and is the inspiration for the Rocky Mountain Railroad ride at Disneyland. The real thing is so much more magnificent. We were particularly thrilled when the cable car came so close to the mountain side that it looked like we were about to crash right into the rock face. The cable car ride on it's own is $24 for adults ($18 youth, $6 under 12). It sounds a little much, but if you've never been on it before, it is worth it. If you aren't planning to spend all day at high camp, enjoy a more comfortable ride in the afternoon because the morning cable cars are uncomfortably packed.
Upon arriving at High Camp, you are greeted with breathtaking sweeping vistas of Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe in the distance. From high camp there are a variety of hikes of varying difficulty. Pick up a hiking guide at guest services. The trails are wide and fairly stroller friendly, but most offer no shelter from the heat. Bring lots of water with you and lather on that sunscreen. Squaw offers a couple of guided hikes as well as evening sunset and full moon hikes. In the evening, you can join professional stargazers to look through high powered telescopes and learn about astronomy through their mini seminars. No reservations needed.
If you're not up for hiking, but are looking to mellow out with your kids. High camp has a swimming pool and spa. The Olympic museum and ice rink are also both open all year round. The setting is beautiful and there is definitely enough at high camp for a family to make a day of their visit. However, don't expect to find thrill rides and squeals of excited delight from you kids. Rather expect more of a lazy care free day with beautiful views. The pool was a little tepid. Even though it was a warm day in Lake Tahoe, at 8,200 feet, the temperature outside lingered around 70 at high noon. My kids were reluctant to spend any time in the unheated Lagoon. However, they really loved the spa pool that was heated to a perfect temperature and crowded with kids. Not so great for all the other adults in the pool.
The ice-skating rink was huge and we loved that there were so many walkers available for first time skaters to feel confident on their skates. Even our 3 year old was able to enjoy his first time on ice without mom and dad breaking our backs supporting him alone. It was one of our best ice-skating experiences with kids because in the summer there was lots of space for everyone on the ice. It was such a treat to be ice-skating in an open air ice rink in the middle of summer.
High camp also has tennis courts and the Poolside Cafe. I was excited to discovered that the menu at the Poolside Cafe wasn't your typical ski resort fare. The quality of the food was decent but nothing to rave about. I'd skip the kids menu though. Our kids got fish and chips ($7) which were just fish fingers and sun chips. The one dish we found exceptional was the Portobello Mushroom Fries. It was encrusted in a burst of flavors and served elegantly in a martini glass with spicy mayo. Yum. Still thinking about those.
When we got back down the mountain were greeted by a wonderful free blues concert (Tuesdays only). It was a perfect ending to the day. The band was good and the crowd was enthusiastic. Our kids loved the easy lawn chairs and even fell asleep after a full day.
For the price of the cable car ride, it's a good idea to make a day of your trip up the Gondola. Take advantage of the lockers available at the lagoon and stash your bags, Work up a sweat first with a nice long hike and then plunge into the pool. Fortunately, High Camp is open till 8pm at night so this can be a whole day activity.
*This review is based on a complimentary cable ride/skate/swim experience and lunch at the Poolside Cafe at High Camp in Squaw Valley USA. I received no other compensation besides this and the owner did not express any requirements that I express a particular point of view.
Whether winter or summer, squaw valley has things to do! In the winter, in addition to skiing, Squaw also offers an ice skating pavilion, the olympic museum, tubing, sledding, a climbing wall, and more. In the summer it offers biking and hiking trails, the huge pool, and some of the other amenities mentioned previously. We loved ice skating and of coarse riding the gondola up to the top of the mountain. The views are amazing and the skiing is great and good for all age levels. :)
We stayed at the Squaw Valley inn, which is great, you don't have to drive the whole time you are there!!
The kids did lessons with Squaw Kids and they really liked it. My husband and I are medium level skiiers and found plenty of runs to have fun on while the kids were in lessons.
A huge summer and winter recreation area, Squaw Valley is spectacular in every season. Waves of wildflowers—or snowfields—roll across open meadows below a jagged circle of snow-capped peaks. Lodges, hotels, rental condos, and homes are scattered in forested areas.
To get an overall view of the valley, take the 150-passenger aerial cable car to the High Camp complex, a thrilling, 2,000-foot ascent to an 8,250-foot summit. Up here on the top of the world, you can ice-skate, hike, mountain bike, swim, picnic, play volleyball and tennis, bungee jump, or just blink in amazement at the surrounding mountains. Look for the indoor climbing wall where the cable car departs.
The Village at Squaw Valley is a brand-new complex of multistory condos, shops, and restaurants clustered around plazas, right at the foot of the mountains (www.thevillageatsquaw.com; 888–805–5022).
Wandering around, you will find Starbucks, which has indoor/outdoor fire places; a candle-making shop; a chocolate factory; outdoor trapolines; a fun cat and dog store; smoothies and great bagels at Mountain Nectar; and live entertainment and special events every summer weekend. You can park your car and get to nearby Truckee and to destinations around the lake by free shuttle bus.
Tip: Look for the games arcade and a coffee counter with yummy treats in Olympic House in the older part of the village. For the sports-oriented family, Squaw Valley offers facilities unmatched in the western states.
A nice 4-mile hike from the floor of Squaw Valley is the Shirley Lakes trail, starting behind the Olympic Village Inn. Younger children like it, because they can stop to wade or swim in the creek, roll around in grassy meadows, or take naps under the pines.
One of the world’s largest and best ski mountains—actually five peaks—Squaw Valley USA Ski Resort, where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held, has thirty lifts accessing more than 4,000 acres of skiable terrain. A new high-speed six-person chair operates even during storm conditions. The Squaw Valley Nordic Center consists of 18 kilometers of groomed track and wilderness trails, plus a telemark downhill area accessed by lifts.
For 2- to 12-year-olds, Children’s World is a separate venue offering special amenities, from ski rentals and lessons to meals. The staff is so friendly and caring that kids want to stay all day. Beginners have their own mostly flat learning area with a neato “people-mover” that they step onto and a little ski lift. A bright, spacious licensed day-care facility cares for toddlers with meals, music, games, snow play, and quiet time.
Save money on lift tickets and lessons by asking about the various deals that Squaw offers: frequent skier programs, multi-day tickets, college days, and lodging packages. Kids 13 and under ski every day for $5.00. There are snowboard clinics, women’s clinics, Snow Sliders for ages 4 to 12, and Mountain Buddies, a supervised camp-style program.
As soon as the snow melts, the High Camp tram starts transporting mountain bikers and their bikes to the Squaw Valley USA Mountain Bike Park. Because of the phenomenal access to alpine-level trails, mountain biking is wildly popular at Tahoe. Annual biking events at Squaw include the Fat Tire Fest in August and the Downhill Mania and American MB Championship, both in September.
Squaw is the only resort we know of where they'll teach 3 year olds. They have half and full-day programs. The full day program includes lunch and a great play area indoors. The kids only ski a couple of hours - once in the morning and once in the afternoon. For parents who want to have some adult ski-time, it's great. You can leave your child and they'll get used to skiing, plus have fun while you can do hit the tougher runs.
The half day sessions are also nice. Mom & Dad will ski in the morning, together, and then pick up the kids at lunch time. We all eat together and then ski after lunch as a family for the rest of the day.