Home (Away) for the Holidays: Sierra at Tahoe ski resort

We’re a family who loves to ski. We’ve visited many ski resorts, including a large sampling of what the Lake Tahoe area has to offer. During our Home (Away) for the Holidays vacation week, our rental home is right at the base of Sierra at Tahoe resort, so we checked it out. In a word:


family ski resort

We don’t say that lightly, but Sierra at Tahoe has so much going for it, we were floored. It is, without a doubt, the most family-friendly mid-sized ski resort we’ve ever visited. What makes it so great?

It’s in the details. Sierra at Tahoe is like the host or hostess who thinks of everything to make your stay convenient and enjoyable. If you ski with young kids, you know how the experience can either be great…or terrible. And it can turn in an instant. Long treks from the car to the lodge, long lift lines, difficult terrain, expensive tickets…it can all add up to a miserable time. We know; we’ve been there. But Sierra makes the extra effort to ensure families have an easy time of it. How?

Preferred family parking and drop-off lines. For a small fee, you can enjoy parking right up front…not a lot to pay when you’re lugging not only your own ski gear but likely your toddler’s. And if that’s not in the budget, just use their drop-off zone. Let the kids and one adult unload with all the gear, go park, and meet back up!

Groomed trails and powder...the perfect combination!

Affordable ticket prices. Skiing is an expensive sport, and Sierra is cognisant of this fact. Ticket prices here are lower than the Tahoe average, and deals abound. If you plan to ski more than one day, consider buying their 3 Pak, which saves you over $20 a day for adults and $5 a day for kids. And there are no blackout dates. They’ve also bundled lift tickets with ski or board rentals and lessons for those families who need them with their $35 Learn to Ski or Ride packages.

Extra ticket options perfect for families: Sierra at Tahoe is the only resort we’ve visited to offer Parent Predicament tickets and Fast Pass tickets. How do they work? Parent Predicament: if two parents are visiting with a non-skiing child or baby, this ticket allows you to buy just one ticket to share instead of two (to waste). Just ask for it at the ticket booth, and you’ll be able to ‘tag team’ ski all day long! Fast Pass: Part of Sierra’s Vertical Plus program, families can add Fast Pass privileges to any ticket for $20. We used this feature, and let me tell you, on a busy holiday day or weekend, it’s worth its weight in gold. Instead of waiting in the regular lift lines, we accessed the Vertical Plus line (marked with a yellow banner), and didn’t wait more than one minute all day long. We more than made up for the price of the upgrade in increased ski time! Insider Tip: If you pair this upgrade with a 3 Pak, which saves you $20/day, you essentially come out even!

Professional children’s programs and features. When it came time to hire a children’s ski school staff, Sierra went looking for childcare professionals, not babysitters. Their children’s programs are run by experienced early childhood learning instructors, with an emphasis on both skiing and riding fun and education. We loved that there are several ski school areas across the mountain so that children (and adults) can learn with peers in their own age group. And if your kids aren’t taking lessons, there’s still great features on the mountain for them. Look for Sierra’s Adventure Zones, designated on the trail map by a paw print. Our kids had fun trying to spot the mine shaft, bear cave, and more…all located in various spots on the mountain.

A unique terrain. Sierra’s layout is unique in several respects. Firstly, the mountain is designed in a way that allows families to split up and meet back up easily. Lodges and restaurants are located for easy access, and runs feed into a central ‘bowl’, making it easy to ‘meet at the lodge’. The mountain’s groomers even go so far as to consider beginning skiers and riders when shaping the runs, ensuring less hiking, stopping, and frustration. More importantly to us, easy, intermediate, and advanced terrain are seamlessly intermixed, allowing family members with different ability levels to ski together. Toby (age 6) loved that he could ride the chair to the peak of the mountain with his brothers, and still find a fun, easy way down while they tackled moguls and powder.


A great location. Because Sierra at Tahoe is located in Eldorado National Forest, skiers and riders are surrounded by wilderness…not condos and excess parking lots. The only area in Tahoe with an old-growth forest, the powder and tree skiing is awesome. Advanced skiers and riders will love Huckleberry Gates, a section on the far side of the mountain with back-country style access to trees, powder, cornices, and drop-offs. Experts can be highly challenged but still meet up with beginners in the lift line!

Plenty of on-mountain dining. We ate at The Pub and Aspen Cafe during our visit, both of which were delicious. We loved that nearly every on-site restaurant offers affordable kid meals, and that outside food is permitted. No one wants to spend all their vacation money on lunch!

More than just skiing: If you’re not sure whether downhill skiing is for you and your family (or if you just need a break from skiing on an off-day), Sierra also has a full tubing and snow play park and over three miles of snowshoe trails. Tubes are available on-site, and snowshoes can be rented in the ski and board rental center.


Date last visited: March 2016

Website: www.sierraattahoe.com

Distance from the Interstate: Two minutes from US Hwy 50. 15 miles from South Lake Tahoe, and 80 miles from I-5 near Sacramento, CA.

Directions: From South Lake Tahoe, just take Hwy 50 over Echo Summit to the Sierra at Tahoe entrance!

Check out the Pit Stops for Kids’ Kid Cam for a sneak peak of Sierra at Tahoe!

As I disclose with all compensated reviews, Sierra at Tahoe generously hosted us for this portion of our Tahoe Holiday review series. While we greatly appreciate their hospitality, this compensation came with no expectation of a positive review. Read all our articles in our Home (Away) for the Holidays series!

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About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.



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