Five Reasons Why Palisades Tahoe Is Different From Others

by Dan Giesin | February 14, 2024

There is little argument that the Lake Tahoe region is one of the finest winter playgrounds in North America.

Ringed by massive peaks that receive copious amounts of snow — up to and sometimes beyond 400 inches on an annual average — Lake Tahoe is well situated for a skiing holiday with seven Alpine resorts within eye-shot of Big Blue offering a variety of challenges and opportunities for winter fun.

Each of the seven — Diamond Peak, Heavenly, Homewood, Mt. Rose, Northstar, Palisades Tahoe and Sierra-at-Tahoe — has something unique going for it that makes it a must-visit for any serious skier or snowboarder.

But if you only have time to visit one, that one must be Palisades Tahoe.


Glad you asked. The following are a handful of reasons that set Palisades apart from its Big Blue  brethren:

The Size

For one thing, Palisades is simply massive, among the continent’s top half-dozen in acreage.

Comprised of eight separate peaks, the mega-resort — which in a past life consisted of two neighboring but independent ski hills, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows — covers more than 6,000 acres of skiable terrain that includes everything from steep chutes and monster hucks to wide and gentle boulevards.


And with an uphill transportation system that consists of a 120-passenger aerial tram, two gondolas — one of which connects the two base areas — and 40 other varieties of lifts ranging from high-speed six-pack chairs to magic carpets it’s pretty easy to get to all the goods.

The Legacy

Olympic Valley (nee Squaw Valley) earned its name back in 1960 when it hosted the VIII Winter Games, the first of its kind that were televised live (or nearly so).

You’ll find the five-ring Olympic logo strewn about the place, including the towering sign that looms over the entrance to the valley proper.

Palisades has also kept its Olympic legacy alive by being the home hill to a dozen or so U.S. Team members including gold medalists Julia Mancuso, Tamara McKinney and Jonny Mosley.

Other famous alumni include filmmaker Warren Miller, who got his cinematographic start there as a skin instructor in the late 1940s and early ‘50s, and the cast and characters of Hot Dog The Movie, which was filmed in and around Olympic Valley.

The Mothership

You’ll be hard-pressed to find another lift in the region — some would say anywhere in the country — that gives skiers and boarders access to more outstanding and varied terrain than the high-speed quad that delivers riders to the top of KT22.

From the relatively easy cruiser run The Saddle to ultra-steep (and seldom-done) Eagles Nest you have feast of options to descend the 1,800 feet of vertical available from the KT chair, which has been dubbed the Mothership.

You want steep bumps? Check out Moseley’s (a.k.a. West Face). You want narrow chutes and slots? Check out 75 Chute or The Fingers. How about great powder stashes? Head for the glades off Red Dog Ridge.

The Cast

While KT22 gets the most notoriety, Palisades has other areas rich in challenge and mystique: Granite Chief, Headwall, Broken Arrow and Solitude in Olympic Valley and Estelle and Beaver bowls and Promised Land at Alpine Meadows.

And this smorgasbord of delectable terrain has attracted and/or produced some the most recognizable names in modern Big Mountain skiing and snowboarding: Shane McConkey. Scot Schmidt. Jeremy Jones. Darren Rahlves. Michele Parker. Ingrid Backstrom. Cody Townsend. C.R. Johnson.

The list goes on. And there’s always room for more.

The Shammy

When the lifts shut down and it’s time to recount the day’s adventures over a cold one, there’s no place to swap lies and laughs than at the Chamois in the old Olympic Village.

A modest two-story structure that was built way back when, the Shammy, as it’s commonly and affectionately known, has seen its share of ski and snowboard history, much of which is displayed in a seemingly unending line of photos and memorabilia gracing its walls.

The food (mainly pizza and sandos) is tasty, the beer is cold and the ambiance is warm and cozy.

What more could you want in an apres joint?

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