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Kirkwood the Third Tahoe resort in Vail's Empire

Tahoe becomes the new battleground in the resort industry.
posted: 02/22/2012
Kirkwood is 40 minutes from South Shore, but locals will tell you that the drive is worth it. Kirkwood has terrain for all levels of skiers/riders with The Wall – famous extreme terrain, steeps on the backside, cruiser runs down Buckboard off Chair 11, and beginner/intermediate runs near Timber Creek off Chair 7.

“There’s our group of five skiers in our 50s and 60s who ski Kirkwood most Saturday mornings ever since our 30s,” said Carl Fair, a 35-year resident and owner/broker of Century 21 at Tahoe Paradise. “We park close to Chair 7, take our Advil, get our boots on, wrap our knee braces and put on our helmets. We take Chair 7 up, ski down to Chair 6 for a run or two, then off to our favorite finger chutes off Chair 10. At this age, having 90 to 100 mm under our feet makes us feel like we are in our 30s again. The Notch, All the Way, and The Sisters with the surrounding trees are a blast.”

Grab some grub at the General Store inside Red Cliffs; may we suggest a tall-boy of local beer and a gourmet slice of pizza that are friendly on the wallet? Proceed to the couch upstairs at Red Cliffs to refuel, recharge, and soak in the scenic views.

Info: 209-258-6000 or

Vail Resorts continues its dominance in the resort game, as it announced today that it will acquire Kirkwood Resort, one of Tahoe’s top skier’s mountains, for about $18 million later this season.

Kirkwood is about 45 minutes from the bright lights of South Shore—and new sister resort Heavenly—but a world away in attitude.  With approximately 2,300 acres, 2,100 vertical feet and a 9,800-foot summit elevation, Kirkwood servers up some of the toughest lines in Tahoe. From a terrain perspective, it can be seen as the Squaw of the South Shore.

A recent flurry of sales and consolidations shows the growing importance of Tahoe in national ski scene. The Cushing family sold Squaw last year, which was quickly followed up by Squaw purchasing Alpine Meadows. With today announcement of the Kirkwood acquisition, Vail now operates three Tahoe resorts: Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood.

With Squaw at the start of a significant makeover, Kirkwood might be the one single resort with the greatest untapped potential in the West. No surprise, then, that Vail Resorts moved in.

Historically, Kirkwood has been all about the skiing. Set in a beautiful and somewhat remote—in Tahoe terms—mountain valley, Kirkwood has limited base village and lodging options. With Vail’s deep pockets now in play, you can bet that’s about to change.


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