Alpine Meadows, Calif.

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Published February 1999. This article does not reflect any lift upgrades or terrain expansions since then.

Terrain Ability






Alpine Meadows






Alpine Meadows is a mid sized ski area, but it has great variety and balance among types of ski terrain as well as difficulty. With its abundance of open terrain, Alpine Meadows feels like a bigger area than the statistics might indicate.

Lift Serviced











High Mths

Low Mths


Direction of Exposure





GE 90 in.

LT 30 in.

Base Depth





Alpine Meadows, Calif. 7,000











The Sierra crest forms the western border of both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. In Alpine Bowl and Summit Bowl at 8,500 feet snowfall averages about 450 inches. The Alpine Meadows recorded average of 387 inches is measured at its 7,000 foot base, about a mile east of the Sierra crest. The Scott Peak and Lakeview areas extend another mile east of the base and probably get a little less snow despite being over 8,000 feet. Alpine Meadows is about half north facing with a complete range of exposures on the other half.

Alpine Meadows is one mile south of Squaw, but conditions tend to be more consistent. The base area is higher and closer to the Sierra Crest, so it will have better early season coverage and be less sloppy in warm weather. It also means that much or all of the area will be closed for wind or avalanche control during storms. In general, Alpine has a fairly swift transition to spring conditions, particularly with the wide range of exposures. It is definitely a "follow the sun" mountain: South facing Sherwood in the morning, east facing sections of the Summit bowl midday, and west facing Scott and Lakeview in the afternoon will often have ideal corn snow.

Terrain Type:

Cruising: The runs off the Roundhouse and Yellow chairs and the groomed center of Alpine Bowl are the most popular areas. Not to be overlooked is Lakeview, which faces west and should be timed for sun.

Moguls: Scott chute, the lift line of the Scott chair, is a consistent challenge of bumps for 1,000 vertical. There are shorter sections of moguls off the Alpine and Summit chairs.

Steeps: The north facing section of Alpine Bowl, easily visible while riding the lift, has numerous chutes which are extremely steep for the top 300 vertical or so. There are also a few steep chutes and glades which drop north under the Summit chair into Summit Bowl.

Wide Open Spaces: Alpine Bowl and the Summit Bowl provide a great variety of open terrain for intermediate and better skiers. Once the snow depth gets up to about 6 feet, pretty much all the terrain from the Sierra Crest down to the base is skiable. South facing Sherwood is also treeless. Enter Sherwood via a short hike from the Alpine Bowl chair up to the High Traverse on the best powder or corn snow days.

Trees: Alpine Meadows is primarily an open area, but there are good glades on either side of the Scott chair.

Powder: Alpine is definitely not the place to be during storms, but afterwards the powder should last longer than at the feeding frenzy next door at Squaw. Much of the best snow is found by traversing north from the Summit chair or off the High Traverse from the Alpine Bowl chair.

Hiking and Backcountry: From the Alpine Bowl chair, one can hike and traverse south along the Sierra Crest past Ward Peak and ski down to Sherwood.

Crowds: Alpine’s longest lines have been relieved by the conversion of Summit (now a six pack) and Roundhouse to high speed lifts. Scott and Lakeview usually have the shortest lines. The mostly open terrain spreads people out well, and skier density is low in the outlying parts of the area.

Alpine Meadows can be subject to the same route 89 gridlock from Tahoe City which plagues Squaw Valley at peak hours on weekends and holidays or in bad weather. Route 89 can be avoided by utilizing the free shuttle bus from Tahoe's west shore to the Sherwood lift.

Intermediates: Alpine Meadows is an excellent mountain for intermediates, particularly compared to next door Squaw Valley. It’s a great place to experiment with open ungroomed terrain and variable snow conditions. Short steep or mogulled sections can provide a challenge for more ambitious intermediates.

Novices: Alpine has very short (<200 vertical) chairs and surface lifts for beginners at the base. Although the ski school is good, you need to be able to ski blue runs to see much of the area.

Children: Alpine has always had a strong following among families. Particularly well regarded is the ski school program for 4-6 year olds, where advance reservations are recommended on weekends and holidays.

There are many lodging choices in the Lake Tahoe area. The north shore from Tahoe City to King’s Beach in California is popular for its scenery as well as the access to many ski areas. A few miles east are Crystal Bay and Incline Village in Nevada, a bit farther from the major skiing, but with some casinos (much smaller scale than south shore). The north shore is serviced by a single two lane road along the lake which can be subject to severe traffic problems. The north shore can also be almost completely paralyzed by the intense Sierra snowfalls. Road closures are not uncommon. If powder skiing is a priority, lodging should be chosen with bad weather access in mind. The south shore casinos and Heavenly Valley are up to an hour away in good weather. Week long visitors wanting to sample many ski areas should consider dividing their lodging base between north and south shore to minimize the driving.