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What To Expect At Tahoe Ski Resorts For The 2020/21 Winter Season

Fall is here or as some residents like to call it Sumtumn. The long hot days of summer are replaced with warm afternoons and cold crisp evenings. Although visitors and residents alike are searching and planning out their favorite fall foliage missions, everyone is looking towards winter. That includes the ski resorts surrounding Big Blue. Each resort is making plans for the upcoming Lake Tahoe 2020/21 ski season. Here’s the latest information they’ve shared on what to expect at Lake Tahoe ski resorts for the upcoming winter.

All Ski Resorts General Policies For COVID-19

As you’ve seen in sports and other pursuits, things can change quickly during this pandemic, but for now, every ski resort around Tahoe is planning to open. Each one will require everyone to wear face coverings to access the mountain, including in lift lines, and while loading, unloading, and riding on chairlifts and gondolas. How they will be handling capacity and other variables varies by resort and can be found below.

Heavenly Mountain

Family Skiing Heavenly Mountain Resort Lake Tahoe

Family Skiing Heavenly Mountain Resort Lake Tahoe

Tentative Opening Day: 11/20

Learn more about Heavenly’s COVID-19 plans

Heavenly resort will manage how many people are on their mountain this season by implementing a pass holder reservation system. If you already have a big trip or long weekend penciled on your calendar that you KNOW you’ll be skiing/riding, as a season pass holder, you can reserve up to 7 priority days ahead of time by December 8th. Lift tickets will then only go on sale after December 8th, once season pass holders have had time to make their priority day reservations.

What If You’re Not A Season Pass Holder?

If you don’t want to get a season pass, you can gain the same access and flexibility as a season pass holder by purchasing an Epic Day Pass. This gives you the benefits of getting lift tickets for 50% off and the flexibility of picking between one and seven days of skiing/riding.

Once On The Mountain

So, you’ve got the face coverings dialed. Reservation is set and you’re finally on the mountain. What’s it going to be like? Vail Resorts guidelines to maintain physical distancing on chairlifts and gondolas will be to only seat related parties (guests skiing and riding together) or:

  • Two singles seated on opposite sides of a four-person lift
  • Two singles or two doubles on opposite sides of a six-person lift.
  • Two singles on opposite ends of larger gondola cabins.


Kirkwood Mountain Resort Lake Tahoe

Kirkwood Mountain Resort

Tentative Opening Day: 12/4

Learn more about Kirkwood’s COVID-19 Plans

Since Vail also owns Kirkwood, the rules will be the same when it comes to safety policies, reservation system, and rules about chairlift loading policies. This means for Cornice Express (Chair 6), Sunrise (Chair 4), and Timber Creek Express (Chair 7), two singles could be seated on opposite sides. For all other chairlifts since they’re doubles or triples, expect only your group to be loaded on the lift.


Sierra at Tahoe Snow Sports Resort

Sierra at Tahoe Snow Sports Resort

Tentative Opening Day: TBD (last year was 11/30)

Learn more about Sierra-at-Tahoe’s latest COVID-19 Plans

Compared to the Vail Resorts above, Sierra-at-Tahoe has no plans of implementing a reservation system. Their focus will be on making sure and enforcing physical distancing protocols. This includes asking visitors to self-group with members of their party. They’ve also re-designed their restaurants so you can get food grab and go style.

Homewood Mountain

Homewood Mountain Resort Lake Tahoe

Homewood Mountain Resort Lake Tahoe

Tentative Opening Day: TBD (last year was 12/6)

Learn more about Homewood’s latest COVID-19 Plans

Homewood is going a totally different route. They’re focused on reducing the number of skiers per acre two-fold. They are capping the number of skiers on the mountain per day AND reducing the amount of season passes that are up for sale. Translation: While Homewood is already an ultimate powder stash in Tahoe, if you can get on the mountain this year, you’ll be able to feast on even more fresh snow goodness. Instead of hanging out in the lodge, they’re also designing their food options so you can use your car as the tailgating spot.

Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley Resort Lake Tahoe

Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe

Tentative Opening Day: November 25th

Learn more about Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadow’s latest COVID-19 Plans

The current plan for Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows is that they will NOT use a reservation system. Instead, to reduce the volume, they will temporarily eliminate the sale of walk-up tickets at the window and reduce the amount of advance purchase tickets available for a given day.

So, will you be able to go skiing this winter? Absolutely! The best solution is to not wait and plan ahead. If you already know when you want to come up, book the tickets, reserve the days, and get your lodging set so you won’t have any stress once you get here.

Visit tahoesouth.com/explore/ski-snowboard for more.

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Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.


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