Snow Spot(s): Kirkwood and Bear Valley


With ski season about to officially begin nationwide, I thought it would be a great time to introduce a new regular feature here at AL – Snow Spots. Every week, I’ll be taking you to some of the lesser-known, more out of the way locales to get lost in powder. We start today with a couple of great NoCal wonders: Kirkwood & Bear Valley, courtesy of The San Francisco Chronicle:

KIRKWOOD – “Located about 45 minutes south of Tahoe on the often snow-closed Highway 88, Kirkwood ski resort can require expedition-like planning to reach in the depths of winter. Storms over the Eldorado National Forest push snow through the valley onto Kirkwood mountain like nature’s biggest snowblower. Because of its unique topographic position, Kirkwood receives the most snow of any Tahoe area mountain. Last season’s cumulative snowfall of 857 inches (71 feet) was the most of any resort in North America.

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BEAR VALLEY – “What I imagined to be a small snow pimple actually had nine lifts, nearly 1,300 acres of slopes and some genuine experts-only-terrain. Sure, the big mountains of Tahoe are double the size, but after a dozen years of skiing lakeside, there really wasn’t a whole lot more for me to discover. Any first-timer at Bear Valley can enjoy a full day of exploration on the mountain, enjoying the hidden chutes and tree-runs off the Kodiak and Grizzly Chair lifts. The newly installed backside Polar Express lift offers high-speed access to long cruiser runs with panoramic views of the valley beneath it.

Like Kirkwood, Bear Valley embraces the adventure spirit with a wide range of activities and classes, ranging from one of the largest cross-country trail systems in the United States to the Mountain Adventures Seminars courses in backcountry safety, snowshoe treks and avalanche education.”