California, United States
Kirkwood Mountain Resort is a ski and snowboard resort in Kirkwood, California to the south of Lake Tahoe. Kirkwood is one of the larger resorts in the Lake Tahoe region, and is well known for having one of the highest average snowfalls and a broad selection of advanced terrain. The mountain is unique in that it has 2 miles of ridgeline at the top. This makes Kirkwood popular for cliff drops and cornice skiing. Kirkwood received an impressive 804 inches (20.5 m) of snow during the 2005 / 2006 ski season. Although Kirkwood definitely has some of the best snow conditions in the Tahoe region, due in part to its high elevation compared to other resorts, the marketing staff is consistently caught exaggerating the actual daily and storm conditions. Kirkwood is approximately 33 miles (53 km) south of Stateline, Nevada and South Lake Tahoe on State Route 88 and is contained within the Eldorado National Forest. The majority of the ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe region are on the northern end of the lake, near Truckee, California and Reno, Nevada. Kirkwood, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Heavenly are located on the southern side of the lake, approximately 80 miles (129 km) from Reno.
For most of its history, Kirkwood was not a 'destination' ski resort, and did not have a large selection of accommodations for customers to stay multiple days. Within the last several years, multiple condominium and time-share projects have been completed which have greatly increased the amount of housing at the resort, although rooms are typically over $150/night (2007). Cheaper accommodations ($29/night and up) can be found in South Lake Tahoe, about 45 minutes away with a Guest Shuttle($5) running to and from South Lake Tahoe.
Two new surface tows opened this year (one J-bar older than Kirkwood Mountain Resort, salvaged from Northstar-at-Tahoe and one 2 section drag tow) that improve access to previously existing advanced and expert terrain. These lifts are not likely to be run during and immediately after a storm cycle due to the clearance and grooming that need to be done. The best time to catch them running is the second day after a storm cycle or later.
The Kirkwood Ski Education Foundation (Kirkwood Ski Team), can be seen training before the lifts are open to public . KSEF offers numerous programs for any age/ability. The Mighty Mite and Star teams are for ages 5-12 and do mostly free skiing every Tuesdays and Thursdays, but also introducing the athletes to different drills and skiing techniques that can be useful for a future in ski racing.
In the summer months, Kirkwood is a destination for mountain biking and hiking. Well known mountain biking trails such as Mr. Toad's Wild Ride are nearby. From approximately the first weekend in July to the first weekend in September chairs #1 and #2 are open for mountain biking as well as most of the front side trails. there is a trials course near the base of chair #1. Bike rentals are also available with a reservation service, calling 2-3 days before renting is recommended as a large group can rent all available bikes before the lifts open. There are two different types of bike available( a lighter weight down hill and a heavy duty downhill, currently supplied by Kona bikes). As of the end of 08 summer season there are plans to expand the summer lift program to include lift#7. Expect hikers on the downhill trails during the morning hours. You will need to purchase a lift ticket to ride the lifts, but if you are willing get up the hill under your own power there is no cost.
Other summer activities include a well equipped gym with a pool and spa(open with membership or room rental), Climbing wall and Ropes course(fee currently unknown) and Kirkwood's disk golf course(Free).