Kirkwood by the numbers:
Base elevation: 7,800ft
Lift served summit: 9,800ft
Mountain summit: 10,000ft
Inbounds vertical: 2,000ft
Skiable inbounds acreage: 2,300
Named Runs: 65
Annual Snowfall: 600 inches
Night skiing: No
Base area lodging: Yes
RV camping allowed: No
Nearest lodging town: Kirkwood, CA. (at the base of the resort)
Nearest Major Airport: Reno/Tahoe, NV. (80 mins away)
Lifts: 15 lifts (2 high speed quads, 1 fixed-grip quad, 6 triple, 1 double, 2 surface tows, 2 magic carpets, 1 tubing lift)
Base area lodges: 3
Typical Season: Late Nov - Mid April
Operating hours: 9am - 400pm, 7 days per week
Snow type: Variable depending on the system, prone to big dumps!
Lift ticket cost: Adult $83 - $94, Child $61 - $69
Visit the Official Kirkwood web page here
All photos by Snow Life LLC
At 600 inches of snow annually, Kirkwood stands at number 1 for the state of California and number 3 in North America, only behind Mt. Baker, WA and Alyeska, AK. Kirkwood's snow is variable depending on the system that blows through. They rarely see rain, but warmer systems can produce a heavy and wet snow nicknamed "Sierra Cement" which at times can be so thick that it is almost unskiable. Most systems are of average weight, and occasionally Kirkwood can receive a nice dry blast with some amazing blower POW! Like most other Sierra resorts, storm systems are often measured in feet as apposed to inches, and if it's not storming than sunshine usually prevails.
In 2012 Kirkwood was purchased by the Vail Corporation and is now a part of the Epic Pass and Tahoe Local Pass along with California's Northstar and Heavenly. Since the buyout, a new base area has been constructed in the beginner area, and snow maintenance has improved, but no lift upgrades or terrain improvements are scheduled for the near future.
Bottom line, if you ever find yourself in Tahoe and are looking for a challenge on the steep and deeps of the legendary Experts Only "Wall", than we highly suggest you check out Kirkwood and don't forget to swing by the locally owned and operated 7,800 bar and grill for a refreshment! Happy shredding!
Oh Kirkwood... how do we begin to profess our love for this amazing place? But this article is about the facts, so we'll try to stick to them. Please forgive us if their is a hint of bias in a few of these paragraphs though. So here we go!
Kirkwood is laid out as one long face with steep Black and Double Black fall lines from the summit to about midway down, when the slopes become more gentle and turn to mostly Blues with a few Greens. Kirkwood's front side face has chairlifts that alternate between Summit and Mid-mountain which are spaced out evenly to accommodate most levels of skiers and riders. Kirkwood also boasts an amazing in bounds side area called Eagle Bowl which is accessible from the summit "Wall" chair, and also has a modest backside area with two chairs, a rope tow and a t-bar.
Do you love snow... and steeps?! Of course you do, or you would not be reading this article. So let's get into a little bit of what this place is all about. Roughly an hour South of Lake Tahoe, pretty much in the middle of nowhere on a windy mountain road in the High Sierra lies a vortex blessed by the snow gods. A combination of steep and gnarly terrain that holds cliffs, gullies, cornices, and even fingers that are not for the feint of heart.
THE SNOWIEST SKI AREA IN CALIFORNIA: KIRKWOOD