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Walnut Creek Magazine

Squaw Valley: It’s More Than You 'Snow’

Aug 28, 2017 04:05PM ● By Fran Miller

Photo by Matt Palmer


Ski season may be months away, but that doesn’t mean that our favorite Tahoe resorts are sitting around twiddling proverbial thumbs until snowboarding begins anew. These late summer/early fall months that bridge the high summer and winter seasons often provide the best mountain getaways: warm days fade into cool nights, wildflowers continue to grace the hillsides and valleys, and the snow that formerly blanketed the mountainsides transforms into glorious waterfalls. And activities? They abound. From hiking, to biking, to zip lining, there is no better spot at Tahoe than Squaw Valley for outdoor enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies to bide their time until first snowfall.

Though voted Best Ski Resort in North America for the second year in a row by USA Today and 10Best Readers’ Choice 2017, Squaw Valley is as well known for its warm weather pursuits as it is its 4,000 skiable acres. The resort bustles year round with nonstop events and lively bars, restaurants, boutiques, and outdoor music festivals within its tram adjacent Village, a European-inspired destination with condominium style suites that are as well suited for families as they are for couples seeking romance. Squaw Valley is truly magical – especially if you’ve been bound to the Bay Area for far too long. Yes, the traffic heading up is a headache, but the pristine payoff makes it worth the trek. Here’s how to make the most of your pre ski-season getaway to Squaw Valley:


Located within walking distance of Squaw’s aerial tram, the Village at Squaw Valley is quaint, communal, and festive. Find a cozy sitting area and read a book, or play a game of life-sized chess or checkers. Roast marshmallows over one of any number of fire pits. Dine al fresco, and simply enjoy the people watching. The Village offers a number of lodging options in a craftsman-style aesthetic, from standard rooms, to single and multi-bedroom suites with fully stocked kitchens, fireplaces, and televisions. A number of hot tubs, located throughout the property, are the perfect remedy for aching muscles after a long day of hiking.

Photo by Tom O'Neill


Photo by Matt Palmer

Take the ten-minute Aerial Tram up to 8,200 feet and enjoy Squaw’s High Camp. The 360° tram views are spectacular. (Fun fact: the granite face of the mountain was the inspiration for Disney’s Thunder Mountain Railroad.) At the top, enjoy swimming, hot tubbing, roller skating, geocaching, disc golf, or high mountain hiking. Or simply head up in order to head back down, and hit the Shirley Lake and Shirley Canyon 3.6-mile trail that passes a number of refreshing waterfalls and ends where you started. Make the trek a little more interesting by hiring an expert guide from Alpenglow Expeditions, each of whom is AMGA/IFMGA certified. (To earn internationally recognized AMGA Certification, a guide must succeed in completing all of the exams in three disciplines: rock, alpine, and ski mountaineering.) For something a little different, make a reservation at the The Ropes Course at Squaw Valley. Consisting of three towers of up to 50' and two circuit courses including eight bridges and seven short zip lines, the Ropes Course is a challenging mix of vertical climbing events along with a variety of bridges and zip lines. Consider a wind down or wind up session at the Village’s Wanderlust Yoga Studio, a 1,000 square foot sanctuary for the strengthening of mind, body, and spirit.

Farm-to-Table dining at Olympic Village Lodge Garden


For an incredibly memorable dining experience, schedule an exclusive Squaw Valley Farm-to-Table Dinner and reconnect with friends and family over a gourmet meal prepared by Squaw Valley’s executive chef Tiffany Swan. Swan partners with MTN ROOTS Food Truck and the Tahoe Food Hub to serve unique and delicious three-course family style dinners, complete with wine pairings.

Gather in the Village at Rocker@Squaw where snow legends of the past, present, and future are honored. This lively locals and visitor hangout features craft cocktails, an impressive wine and beer list, and creative menu items sourced with the freshest sustainable ingredients.

Grab your morning cup o’ organic joe at Coffeebar where the coffee is as fierce as the lion logo. Coffeebar's beans are locally roasted every Saturday morning. A full coffee bar menu features hot items, yogurts, and scrumptious pastries.

Located at Squaw Valley’s High Camp, Poolside Café offers delicious lunch options (burgers, salads, hot entrees, etc.) with seating either inside or outside on the beautiful sun deck, overlooking the Pool and Hot Tub.

Looking to satiate a sweet tooth? Dorinda’s Chocolates, back in the Village, can help. Try her award-winning sea salt caramels, or her lavender or Matcha tea truffle or lemon truffles. For the ultimate indulgence, purchase her gourmet s’mores package with homemade marshmallows, and roast the night away. 

(Though everything you need is in the Village, consider a trip to nearby Tahoe City and lakefront Moe’s Original Bar B Que, located at the end of the Grove St. pier. Enjoy daily smoked meats, fresh seafood, and homemade sides, along with views from every table.)

And don't forget the sunscreen and shades - two items that remain seasonless during Squaw's 300 annual days of sunshine.


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