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Squaw Valley

Every time I ski Squaw, I bump into the same people on the KT Express chair. I never have to wait long to find diehard ski buddies who begin, spend and end each winter day lapping this one lift and its expert terrain. But a good day at Squaw for CEO emeritus Nancy Wendt Cushing—who just passed the reins of this brawny and historic mountain to someone outside the Cushing clan—involves covering a lot more ground on skis. It’s an easy thing to do: While this California classic may be best known for its signature steeps, Squaw’s six summits offer abundant options for literally all levels of skiers.

“Follow the sun,” Cushing advises with a knowing smile. She likes to start by zooming up the Funitel (a key component in a lift network capable of moving more bodies uphill per hour than any other ski area in the U.S.), then warming up on the easy, open meadow at the summit. From there she heads to the broad, rolling boulevards of forested Shirley Lake—a sunny day favorite with intermediates and families.

Back at the top, breeze down the sinuous folds of Silverado, a favorite hidden stash for Squaw skiers in the know. Each run gets more challenging. Next, angle down Headwall’s steeps then swing through the bumps of Sun Bowl. Nancy does it all wearing a ball cap, sunglasses and a happy look. With Squaw’s new efforts to improve the on- and off-hill customer experience, you and your family will have the same happy grin—even if you don’t meet your buddies at the KT chair. —S.R.

What’s New: Finally: Olympic House gets a renovation; new family features include a kids’ fun zone and trail map, and upgrades at the Children’s Center; new lighting will keep the terrain park open at night.

Mandatory Run: Did we mention KT Express? Easy way down: The Saddle.

Don’t Miss: High Camp, and its grab bag of non-ski diversions with lake views.

PlumpJack Inn

PlumpJack Inn
(Photo by Russell Abraham)
Bring your dog along on your next ski vacation, and he'll receive special treatment at this Squaw Valley hotel.

If you can’t leave home without your furry friend, stay at the PumpJack Inn, where they offer dog beds, treats, and bowls. Fido is also allowed in most areas of the hotel, as long as he stays on his leash, and a list of resources, dog-friendly trails, dog-friendly beaches, and dog-friendly North Lake Tahoe restaurants is also available at the hotel. If you go to Squaw Valley enough to warrant buying a season pass, ask about the PlumpJack Season Pass, which gives season pass holders a 15 percent discount off of reservations.

Graham's Restaurant

Graham's Restaurant
Graham's Restaurant
Located in one of Squaw Valley's earliest homes, they have Swiss cheese fondue during happy hour.

A mix of Mediterranean and California-inspired food, Graham’s has been serving Squaw Valley in the historic Paulsen home—the original Squaw Valley family, who moved there in the 1930’s— for 20 years. Stop in around 4 p.m for their après-ski Swiss cheese fondue and choose from their 700-bottle wine list. In the winter, they’re open everyday, but if you’re in Squaw during the summer you can still catch them from Wednesday to Sunday.
Squaw Valley, California | 530.581.0454 |

22 Bistro and Bar

22 Bistro and Bar
22 bistro bar
Check out this on-mountain restaurant for unique apres-ski options.

This on-mountain restaurant focuses on New American cuisine served on small plates, as well as large entrées and a substantial wine list. At the end of the day, head down for their daily food and drink special, and share a social plate with your ski crew. Try the Tower 16 Tuna: a triple-decker of crisp-friend won tons, fresh ahi, mango, and avocado with wasabi cream sauce alongside a Sunrise Mojito.
Squaw Valley, California |530.584.6170 |

The Arc at Gold Coast

The Arc at Gold Coast
arc at gold coast
Stop in for lunch, and be surprised at the better-than-cafeteria food.

This on mountain restaurant was completely renvoated in 2009. The new menu consists of Asian stir-fry bowls, fresh salads, soups and bread bowls, pizza, and Squaw's famous Kobe beef burgers. Try the Orange Chicken Asian Stir-fry Bowl and stop by the bar for a two-dollar Coors Light before heading back to the slopes.

Squaw Valley, California |

Spa at Squaw Creek

Spa at Squaw Creek
spa at squaw creek
Ski-in to enjoy a relaxing massage after a long day on the hill.

In the winter, the spa offers a number of packages including their most popular treatments: the Olympic Sports Massage and the Tahoe Hot Stone Massage. After a long day on the slopes, you can ski-in to this spa located at the Resort at Squaw Creek. They also have a health and fitness center where you can soak in one of the outdoor whirlpools or relax in one of the steam rooms after your spa treatment.

Olympic Valley, California | 530.583.6300 |

Wildflour Baking Company

The best cookies in Squaw Valley

Wildflour Bakery hosts Peet’s coffee, fresh-made bagels, blue-ribbon sandwiches, and the best damn cookies anywhere. All for just about the cheapest prices in Squaw. There’s one at High Camp at the top of the tram and one in the base lodge. Buy a Cookie Pass to get the best deals.; (530) 583-1963

Squaw Valley Wild Wild West Weekend

Squaw Valley Wild Wild West Weekend
squaw wild west
Test your paintball skills during a western-themed weekend with live music, a petting zoo, and more.

Back for it’s third year, the highlight for the 2010 Wild Wild West Weekend at High Camp Corral is a shootout at the brand new mountaintop paintball corral. Challenge your friends and family to a match at 8,000 feet.

Another new addition this year is live music on both days of the event. The music will be country-inspired folk performed by Pete Charles and Son on Saturday, and Uncle Rico on Sunday.

Wild Cherries

Wild Cherries
coffee shop
Wild Cherries, located on Donner Pass Road, is where Truckee locals go for morning coffee en route to the mountains.

Wild Cherries, located on Donner Pass Road, is where Truckee locals go for morning coffee en route to the mountains. And it’s no wonder why: Former Olympic skier Kristin Krone, who competed in the 1988 Calgary Winter Games and the 1992 Albertville Winter Games in downhill and super G, has owned the coffee shop since 1999. The café is usually bustling from 6 a.m. until it closes at 6 p.m. For breakfast, order a smoothie, breakfast sandwich, or a mug of their signature coffee.

Red Wolf Lodge

Red Wolf Lodge
Red Wolf Lodge
With two locations: On the north shore of Lake Tahoe or at the base of Squaw Valley.

The Red Wolf Lodge is a timeshare-style condo hotel that offers studios and two-bedroom condos that sleep up to six. There are two locations: One at the base of Squaw Valley (stay here if you’re skiing Squaw or Alpine Meadows) and one lakeside in Kings Beach (stay here if you’re skiing Northstar, Diamond Peak, or Homewood). Every room comes with a small kitchen and there’s a gym and hot tub on site. [from $169;]

Resort at Squaw Creek

Resort at Squaw Creek
Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Hike It: Granite Chief Trail. Wending uphill through Shirley Canyon in Tahoe National Forest, Granite Chief treats hikers to waterfalls, creeks, wildflower fields and mountain lakes en route to 9,0006-foot Granite Chief Peak.
Stats: Moderate; 10.2 miles, but it can be shortened
Après-hike: The Spa at Squaw Creek's Tahoe Hot Stone Massage uses heated basalt and cold marble stones in a rhythmic massage to get deep into the muscle and improve circulation; $115-$170.
Info: $25 per hike; 800-327-3353;
PHOTO: Resort at Squaw Creek
Thanks to a recent renovation, the Resort at Squaw Creek is one of Tahoe's nicest hotels.

A recent $53 million renovation now makes the Resort at Squaw Creek one of the nicest luxury hotels in the Tahoe area. You can book anything from a suite with a fireplace to a two-level penthouse, all of which come with bathtubs, kitchens, dining rooms, flat-screen televisions, and comfy pillow-top beds. You’ll pick the Resort at Squaw Creek for its private chairlift access to the terrain at Squaw. But you’ll love it even more for the sprawling outdoor hot tubs, the heated swimming pools, the spa treatments, steam rooms, and state-of-the-art fitness center.

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