Billed as ‘California’s family ski resort’ Northstar’s calling cards are perfect corduroy, a charming modern pedestrian village, top-notch hotels, and excellent facilities that delight children and adults alike. This is the kind of place where San Francisco’s best toy store has chosen to open an outlet, riders can ski up to an on-slope complimentary champagne bar (heaven!) and popular apres ski activities include toasting marshmallows over designer fire pits beside the village ice rink. The general feeling is one of pure relaxation and holiday ease.

Northstar is located on the northwestern side of Lake Tahoe about 40 minutes shuttle ride from Reno Airport. The ski area is blanketed by an average of 30 feet (almost 9 meters) of snow each year. About 60% of runs are intermediate – and with the ski area being a good-sized 3170 acres (1283 hectares) there are plenty of them to enjoy. This has helped make Northstar one of the top destinations in the US for novices who like cruising immaculately groomed runs and advanced skiers who like to go fast. A big plus for kids and teens is there are no less than seven award-winning terrain parks. With half the ski area covered by snowmaking, there is always somewhere to make some turns.

The base village of Northstar comprises a cluster of lodging and services, including 35 specialty stores, all nestled around a spectacular central ice rink. A good proportion of the base village’s lodging overlooks the rink which at night comes alive with colored lights and music creating a festive village-square-style atmosphere.

This impressive ski destination had humble beginnings as a former lumber site, simply called Timber Farm. This name changed to Northstar-At-Tahoe when the mountain opened in 1972 with 5 chairlifts (compared to today’s 97) and an initial network of just 5 trails designed by an Austrian.

Northstar Ski Area Summit

Photo Credit: © VAIL RESORTS