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Alpine Meadows, California

Woo hoo! Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are hitched. They are one big giant ski and snowboard area, with some of the most amazing terrain in North America. The resorts are not yet linked by lifts, but I expect that they will be. For years, veteran skiers wondered when it would happen. We cover Squaw Valley skiing in a separate chapter. Here we deal with Alpine Meadows as it now stands.

For intermediate and advanced skiers, especially those with an adventurous streak, this mountain is a blast. A big mountain and a big secret, Alpine Meadows has terrain for every level of skier and rider, but its greatest appeal is its off-piste terrain. It’s also linked with some of the nation’s best backcountry skiing and riding.

It’s hard not to like Alpine Meadows Ski Resort. It has expert terrain, sweeping intermediate bowls, scenic trails and a good beginner area. And it’s bigger than it looks from the base lodge. You’ll see the terrain unfold beneath when you take the Summit Six (a six-seater) to the top. In the Lake Tahoe area, Alpine Meadows has traditionally been the ski area with the earliest and longest season (it’s open well into May and some years, until July 4).

For beginners and intermediates, there’s the Hot Wheels chair. This lift is also gives you access to the back bowls. Scott Chair, which accesses expert terrain, was upgraded from a double to a triple. The added weight of the triple chairs allows the Scott Chair to run more often in bad weather, good news to experts who want to get to this area during a snowfall. It also speeds you toward the Lakeview Chair, which has great views of Lake Tahoe from the top.

Here’s a bit of local knowledge: If the wind is out of the southwest, Alpine Meadows is usually open, even when other areas are on wind hold. Better yet, the wind blows the snow into the bowls. On the other hand, when it blows out of the east…take heed. And speaking of snow, truth is, every time one of our staff skis here, it snows. We’ve asked trusted locals about the views we’ve yet to see.

The Ski Tahoe North Interchangeable ticket (1 877-949-3296) allows guests to ski/snowboard at Alpine Meadows, Diamond Peak, Homewood, Mt. Rose, Northstar, Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl and accommodates those looking for the best conditions. There are wind holds on some mountains on some days and snow conditions vary from resort to resort. The ticket is $58 per person, per day for two-or-more-day tickets, is valid all season and doesn’t need to be used on consecutive days. Tickets are two-for-one at Homewood and Diamond Peak.