Kirkwood Mountain Resort in California is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. As part of a series on ski resorts, Huffington Post Travel offers our guide to Kirkwood Mountain Resort, featuring all the key information snow lovers need to know before they hit the slopes.
The BasicsLocated just west of the California-Nevada border, Kirkwood Mountain Resort sits 35 minutes away from the skiing Mecca of Lake Tahoe, recognized as the top ski destination in 2010 and 2011 by Rand McNally. Skiers can fly into Reno-Tahoe International Airport, the closest airport to the resort, which is about an hour-and-a-half drive away. The resort offers shuttle services during the ski season from Reno, South Lake Tahoe and the San Francisco Bay area. Kirkwood Mountain Resort features slopes and terrain parks for all skill levels, along with children's activities, making it an ideal family vacation destination.
The MountainKirkwood Mountain Resort's season typically runs from mid-December to April, although a generous late-season snowfall allowed the resort to stay open until May 1 in 2011. The resort boasts "the lightest and driest snow in the Lake Tahoe region," and sees more than 600 inches of snow annually, the most in the region. Early in the winter season, the resort produces artificial snow to provide a base before the snowfall begins. Located at the top of the Sierra Crest, Kirkwood Mountain Resort's elevations range from 7,800 feet to 9,800 feet. The resort also features a vertical rise of 2,000 feet and a 13,200-foot run.
Trails And LiftsKirkwood Mountain Resort features 72 trails suitable for all skill levels: 15 percent of trails cater to beginners, 50 percent are suitable for intermediate skiers, 20 percent challenge advanced skiers and 15 percent are for experts. The Wagon Wheel is the most arduous spot at the resort, challenging expert skiers with chutes, cornices and cliffs. The resort features 14 lifts in a variety of styles, including three surface lifts, a double chairlift, one fixed-grip quad lift, six triple chairlifts, two high-speed quads and two magic carpets. In addition to the trails, the resort includes three terrain parks for beginner, intermediate and advanced ski levels. These parks feature rollers for beginners as well as the more advanced mini half-pipe and kinked rails.
In The NewsProfessional snowboarders descend on Kirkwood Mountain Resort annually for the North Face Masters of Snowboarding event. Held in early March, this event challenges snowboarders to showcase their skills during the two-day competition, with the winner taking home a prize worth more than $50,000. The resort also hosts the annual Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships, where the nation's top freeskiers compete on the slopes of the Sierra Crest. The female skiing organization Girl Powder holds its annual Queen of the Park event at Kirkwood as well, where women tackle a custom terrain park during the weekend event.
CostBudget Travel named Kirkwood Mountain Resort one of the nation's top ski deals in 2010. A full-day lift ticket for adults is $79; juniors ages 13 to 18 pay $61 and children ages 6 to 12 pay $20. Families can take advantage of Kids Ski Free Sundays, where one child skis free for every adult ticket purchase. Skiers can rent a ski and board package for $40 for a full day, and they can try a variety of brands, including Black Diamond, Volkl and Moment, at the K2 Demo Center in the Village Plaza. Safety equipment, including helmets, is available for rent for as little as $10 a day. The resort offers ski lessons for adults and young adults starting at $89.
Apres-SkiSeveral nearby restaurants can satisfy skiers after a day on the slopes. Off the Wall Bar offers fine dining with a menu featuring southwestern and Pacific Rim cuisine. Skiers looking for more casual fare can check out Bub's Pub. It offers a sports bar atmosphere and brick-oven pizzas. Skiers who want to unwind can head to Body Slopes Massage, where they can enjoy a deep tissue or Swedish massage or relax in the aromatherapy steam room.
WATCH: Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Kirkwood Mountain Resort offers many trails for snowboarders at all skill levels.