Ski trip to Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe + review of ski resorts during COVID

This past weekend was one I’ve been looking forward to for a while. Joe and I planned a ski trip to Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe. Our experience was a little different than normal due to COVID – you basically need to plan a lot more in advance (including reserving lift tickets online), which means you can’t spontaneously decide to go skiing since spots might be full. But I’m SO glad we took the extra effort to make it out there. We needed this outdoor adventure and it did not disappoint!

We drove in the night before on Friday and rented skis at Sports Basement in SF, which made our life easier the next morning. Normally we’d go outside for coffee/breakfast, but this time we tried to avoid people and made our own food whenever we could. That meant store-bought ice coffee + Cliff bars for breakfast and making sandwiches in the hotel room for lunch. 🙂

A short drive later, we hit the slopes. It was so nice to have everything prepared and walk straight to the first lift.

Active couple going skiing

The morning took some adjusting. The conditions on the mountain were rough as the visibility was very bad. We started off on some easy greens to get use to our gear + skiing/snowboarding for the first time in one year.

Squaw Valley Tahoe trees

Fortunately the sun came out by mid-morning which instantly brightened up our mood. We could see the epic mountains of Squaw and the mountain air was so refreshing.

Skiing in Tahoe

I ski and Joe snowboards. 🙂 Luckily we are pretty much the same level, cruising comfortably on the blue trails.


I have to say, of all the Tahoe resorts, I think Squaw is the most epic-feeling with the vast mountain views. But overall, I prefer Northstar resort in Tahoe. A lot of the trails around Squaw are very flat which is not fun for Joe (flat trails are snowboarder’s nightmare since you have to unbuckle and walk). I also felt like the trails were too short at Squaw compared to the wide, long blues at Northstar.

Squaw Valley mountain

We took a break for lunch in the car. The hotel sandwiches were a success :). There was food available at the resort but only for dining outdoors.

Lunch in car skiing

Then back on the slopes for round two. We skiied until 3pm, take full advantage of our ski day. 🙂

Ski lift ride

Back at the hotel, we cleaned up, watched tv, and had a date night ordering bougie seafood for take out. It was perfection.

Dinner take out in hotel room

We were originally planning on skiing another day, but there was a blizzard coming in and the nice man at the ticket counter refunded our lift tickets. It was an easy decision, especially since the lift tickets were ~40% more expensive due to the resort’s reduced capability. We left early the next morning and got back to SF early enough to rest and run some errands before the start of the week.

Overall I had a good experience at Squaw Valley resort during COVID. It was definitely more work to get to the slopes, but I think they did a good job making everyone feel safe. It obviously wasn’t the typical ski trip experience, but some skiing is better than none! A few thoughts:

  1. The lift lines moved slower because they spaced people apart. The workers also ask you each time if you’re ok sitting with others and you can say no. Overall the longer lines wasn’t an issue.
  2. There basically was no social distancing. Everyone was good about wearing masks indoors and outdoors, but on the lines everyone was pretty close together. Despite this, I never got anxious about COVID (something about being outside in the cold made it feel more okay?). But if you do get anxious about social distancing this may not be for you.
  3. There was slightly less people at the resort than normal, but as a result they do charge more per ticket. I thought the tickets were a little expensive, and for this reasons, I think we are only going skiing once this season. 🙂

I’m grateful we got out there and feel refreshed coming back to SF. I felt so happy to get out of the city and have any kind of adventure given the California shutdown. Fresh mountain air is always good for the soul. 🙂

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