Tahoe Traveling: Stop and Smell the Mt. Rose

January 31, 2012

When travelers arrive at the Reno airport for their Lake Tahoe vacation, they want nothing more than to get up the mountain as fast as possible. While the sapphire water of the enormous alpine lake is breathtaking, there are a few gems tourists might want to check out along the way.

There are several avenues one can take when heading to Lake Tahoe from The Biggest Little City in the World, such as through Carson City and up Highway 50 into South Shore or Interstate 80 through Truckee and ultimately into either Tahoe City or Kings Beach. The quickest route, though, is Highway 431, also known as Mt. Rose Highway.

Mt. Rose Meadows

Lake Tahoe is definitely the pot of gold at the end of the vacation rainbow, but there are some other nuggets to see along the 37-mile Mt. Rose journey.

The Summit – OK, so shopping may be the farthest thing from a vacationer’s mind, but the sheer abundance of quality stores and restaurants located at The Summit, warrants mention. Before spending time enjoying the great outdoors, immerse yourself in a little indoor decadence. Stores include Banana Republic, Gap, Hollister, Patrick James, bebe, Ann Taylor, Chico’s, J.Crew, Talbot’s, Sketchers, Bath & Body Works, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, and the always-popular Apple store.. For those looking to eat after hitting the shops and before hitting the road, there is BJ’s Brewhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chocolate Bar, FatBurger, and the omnipresent Starbuck’s.

Galena Creek Park – Nestled at the foothills of the Sierra, right along Mt. Rose Highway, this regional park offers incredible hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. Feel free to inquire about ranger-led expeditions through the park, the exhibits in the old stone visitor’s center, and the campfire opportunities. There is also fishing and a plethora of picnic areas to choose from.

Mt. Rose Meadows – A local favorite for its stunning views of both Nevada to the northeast and the Tahoe Basin to the southwest, there is a myriad of hiking and mountain biking paths to enjoy in the summer – including a single track that leads off the mountain and south down into the Carson City area. To the north is a popular trail to Tamarack Lake. In the winter, this is a favorite locale for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and sledding.

Mt. Rose Turnoff – Yes, just a tiny concrete space on the side of Mt. Rose Highway, but should be mentioned as almost the entire lake can be seen from this vantage point. As far as tiny concrete highway pull-outs are concerned, this one rivals the parking lot overlooking Emerald Bay and the “Tea House” on Fannette Island.

There are many other great options to choose from depending on the season, such as skiing at Mt. Rose Ski Resort, heading east into Virginia City, or playing golf at Arrowcreek Country Club or if you know somebody at the private Montreux Gold Club where the PGA Tour stops once a year.

Considering just how spectacular, though, Lake Tahoe truly is, it’s understandable if most tourists just head straight there. After all, it is a diamond in the Sierra rough.

But for those who want to take their time and enjoy what Mt. Rose Highway has to offer, there are certainly a few pearls to discover.

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There’s Snow In Dem Der Tahoe Hills!

January 24, 2012

As the popular saying goes, “What a difference a day makes.” Or in the case of Lake Tahoe skiing and snowboarding, a storm.

Just a few days ago, locals and visitors were walking the sandy, rocky shores of Lake Tahoe as if it were early summer. The blue skies and bare ground made it look like any other time than the middle of January.

Hello New Snow!

Yet, those familiar with weather in Lake Tahoe know that when a storm does finally hit, it can bring a whole lot of the white stuff with it. And that is just what happened.

The landscape around Lake Tahoe that used to be brown and gray is now nothing but bright white. The way it should be in winter.

Ski resorts that only had a few runs open due to man-made snow are now in full operation – opening up lifts and lines for everyone to take advantage of the abundance of fresh powder.

In the past four days, Diamond Peak reported more than 40 inches of snow. Alpine Meadows reported more than 70 inches of new snow on its peaks in just the past 48 hours.

It may be almost one month into the new year, but it is finally time to go skiing and snowboarding – Natural Style!

For those ready to dust off their boots and leave their buddies in the dust on a double diamond slope, here are the latest numbers of new snow that fell in just the latest storm:

Alpine Meadows – 72 inches

Boreal Ski Resort – 50 inches

Diamond Peak – 24 inches

Heavenly Ski Resort – 48 inches

Homewood – 40 inches

Kirkwood – 48 inches

Mt. Rose – 28 inches

Northstar-at-Tahoe – 37 inches

Sierra-at-Tahoe – 47 inches

Squaw Valley – 60 inches

Soda Springs – 40 inches

Sugar Bowl – 52 inches

As they say, “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.”

It sure took a whole lot of minutes into the ski season for it to change, but considering there is now several feet of fresh powder on the ground, it’s pretty safe to say most people are finally liking the Tahoe weather.


Let the Tahoe Storm Parade Begin

January 16, 2012

According to the national weather service, a significant storm is finally on its way to drought-ridden Northern California. That is extremely good news to residents and visitors of the greater Lake Tahoe area since it’s been the driest start of the winter season in recent memory.

Further drumming up excitement is the fact that experts say the storm expected to arrive later this week is just the first in a parade of stronger ones to come.

“The vigorous winter Pacific jet stream will give weary Alaskans a break and instead will make the entire roughly 5000-mile long voyage to the West Coast, bringing several wet, windy storms into the West Coast beginning midweek,” reported  Jonathan Erdman, Senior Meteorologist with Weater.com. “Each of these storms should bring soaking rain and heavy mountain snow to the Northwest, heavy snow to the northern Rockies, and at least some rain and mountain snow to thirsty northern California.”

While the brunt of the incoming weather will push to the north, this is extremely good news to both water officials and outdoor enthusiasts looking to finally introduce their skis and snowboards to fresh powder.

All in all, three storms are expected to move into the area starting Wednesday or Thursday – all of which are listed as “moderate to strong.” That is three more storms than the region has seen in almost two months.

In the Pacific Northwest the total snow fall will be measured in feet, not inches. The Sierra Nevada won’t rival the Puget Sound or the Cascades, but the amount of rainfall will be significant and mark a huge shift in the weather pattern.

“This should put a dent in the drought worries for at least parts of California, currently plaguing half of the state. Fortunately, California’s reservoir levels are still high from a wet winter/spring 2010-2011, so, there are no long-term water supply worries just yet,” stated Erdman.

With a procession of storms expected to march into the area in the week to come, perhaps the blizzard conditions will finally beat away any long-term water worries. And skiers and snowboarders can once again parade down to the local resorts to enjoy a little fresh, natural snow.


Email More Proof Tahoe is a Special Vacation Spot

January 10, 2012

Dear Sirs/Madams,

Hello! I just wanted to quickly thank you and your entire staff for a wonderful vacation! We always wanted to go to Lake Tahoe and we finally busted the move this past holiday season.

I have to say, that despite the lack of snow, the move was well worth it. I didn’t even know they could make snow in such abundance. Good thing since I don’t think a storm has come to the area in a month. Not that I’m an expert by any means, but the snow seemed just fine to me. It certainly looked, tasted, and smelled like the normal, natural stuff. 🙂

Before we booked our vacation, we seriously thought about staying at a hotel. At the last minute, we decided that staying in a condominium would be better since we wanted to make our own meals – especially dinner. Plus, the kids really like to play catch and explore, so being able to open the door and step outside was much more appealing than the idea of taking an elevator up and down all day.

Also, while my husband and I do enjoy a little gambling here and there, it looks as though the only hotel in the area was also a casino. I’m sure it would have been fine, but we were a bit hesitant on how family-friendly that place truly was.

At any rate, I don’t want to bore you all, I just wanted to extend our thanks.

The condominium was so clean and spacious, it truly exceeded our expectations. Having all the comforts of home – a nice kitchen, living room with a flat screen TV, and multiple bathrooms – is the way to go while on vacation. The fact that we could walk to the shopping center and several really good restaurants was added bonus.

Suffice it to say, we will be back to Lake Tahoe and renting from you again. Most likely this summer as the kids want to swim in that gorgeous blue lake!  (My youngest son actually thought it was the ocean as we took a stroll along the shore.)

The entire family is extremely jealous of all you lucky people who get to live in such a beautiful, peaceful alpine location year-round. I will think of Tahoe often as I stare out my downtown office window at the honking cars and smog below.

Thanks so much again and see you this summer!

Signed,

Shirley (aka Tahoe Daydreamer)



Time to Dance to a New, Wetter Tahoe Tune

January 5, 2012

It is reported to be the driest December in the past 100 years for the Lake Tahoe area. With no precipitation in more than a month and none expected for at least another week, winter outdoor enthusiasts and state water officials are far from dancing with joy.

Yet, despite the lack of enthusiasm – and snow – maybe that’s exactly what’s needed.

The rain dance has been performed by Native American tribes for centuries. While most people these days feel it’s meaningless, fun pomp and circumstance, there are others who still strongly feel these ceremonies help ensure the stormy weather will return soon.

Despite the modern-day doubt, all those tired of the extreme dry conditions and looking to bring snow back to Tahoe, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when performing that potentially winter-saving rain dance:

1) Wear turquoise and feathers if possible. Turquoise represents rain and feathers the wind in many Native American tribes.

2) Find an open, flat, outdoor space that allows you to move around freely and has a clear view of the sky above.

3) Spin around in slow clockwise circles.

4) Start Chanting. Any pro-rain, storm, snow dialogue will suffice (i.e. “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!”). Repeat chant over and over.

5) Raise your arms up to the sky as you chant and spin.

6) Close eyes and take deep breaths.

7) Speed up spinning and chanting.

8) End rain dance by dropping to your knees.

9) Remain on knees in silence.

10) Rise slowly.

With no snow on the ground and the weather forecast calling for sunny skies through the first part of January, it’s time steps were taken to help turn things around. While it may seem ludicrous, those steps could be in the form of a traditional rain dance.

Sure, the neighbors may think the record-setting dry conditions have gone to your head as you chant and spin away in the backyard, but when it starts snowing again, everyone will be dancing with joy.


Visitors Have Some Man-Made Tahoe Fun

December 30, 2011

It is reported to be the driest December in the Lake Tahoe region in the past 100 years, but that hasn’t kept skiers and snowboarders from hitting the slopes and wetting their whistle at the respective ski lodges.

Village at Northstar

“The snow is actually pretty darn good,” said one patron as he enjoyed a cold beer after a day at Diamond Peak Ski Area. “I probably couldn’t tell the difference between the man-made stuff and the real stuff. The conditions seem normal to me.”

While the snow may seem normal on the slopes, the conditions are anything but. With pretty much no precipitation since before Thanksgiving, ski resorts throughout Northern California have been forced to make their own snow.

With extremely frigid temperatures, sometimes dropping to the low teens, that has not been a problem.

Yet, the brown panoramic views around Lake Tahoe have almost all locals and tourists wondering when the next storm will bring the white stuff. Outside a few north-side patches,  the only consistent snow that can be seen is under chair lifts.

Or in the case of Diamond Peak – chair lift.

“They only have one top-to-bottom run open, but I am pleasantly surprised at how good the conditions are,” said another skier.

Despite the lack of precipitation, it seems as if it’s business as usual. Just like all the Whos down in Whoville celebrated Christmas without any presents, outdoor winter enthusiasts are celebrating in Tahoe without the presence of natural snow.

With parking lots full and a huge crowd enjoying all the amenities the Village has to offer, Northstar-at-Tahoe is all abuzz this holiday.

“Wow. It was extremely enjoyable out there on the slopes, but a little bit crowded. Getting through the Village, past all the people at the ice rink and everywhere was quite the slalom course in itself,” said a young skier as he waited in the parking lot for his ride home.

No snow in the month of December is very unfortunate for a variety of reasons, but visitors and locals continue to make the most of it. Still, the dry conditions only continue to whet everyone’s appetite for some fresh powder skiing and snowboarding.


Tahoe Ski Resorts Ready to Ring in Holiday Crowds

December 20, 2011

As the popular saying goes, “Use what Mother Nature brings you before Father Time takes it away.”

While a very astute quote regarding life, when it comes to skiing and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe this holiday season, resort officials have decided to bring in their own weather as time continues to tick away.

Snow Making

There is no substitute for Mother Nature, but apparently  those in Tahoe are doing the best they can to make up for her interim absence.

Despite not a single snowflake falling from a cloud in weeks, there are more than 10 area resorts open for the holidays thanks to man-made snow. Below is a list of open ski areas, with a rough estimate of snow conditions in parenthesis:

Open Tahoe Ski Resorts

Alpine Meadows (18″)

Boreal Ski Resort (24″)

Diamond Peak Resort (24″)

Heavenly Ski Resort (24″)

Homewood (6″)

Kirkwood (11″)

Mt. Rose (16″)

Northstar-at-Tahoe (18″)

Sierra-at-Tahoe (8″)

Squaw Valley (12″)

Sugar Bowl (21″)

Having so many resorts open without a storm hitting the region in more than a month may seem odd. After all, the sunny skies are more apropos for a nice hike or day at the beach.

Yet, while Mother Nature refuses to bring what ski resort officials really want – white, fluffy snowflakes and lots of them – she is offering extremely low temperatures. And that has allowed snow-making machines to cover several designated areas and runs in frozen white gold.

Thus, while there are only a few scattered white patches on the north sides of roads throughout the Tahoe Basin, many mountain ski runs are covered at least a foot deep in snow.

As the popular saying goes, “The condition that Mother Nature is in, is the condition we are all in.”

While Father Time rapidly takes away the last few remaining days of 2011 and the weather continues to remain sunny, those conditions at Lake Tahoe ski resorts – to the delight of skiers and snowboarders – remain stormy.

Have a Wonderful Tahoe Holiday!