Ski USA - California

Kirkwood Resort Reviews

Ski USA - California

Kirkwood Resort Reviews

Visitor reviews for Kirkwood Ski Resort

Kirkwood Ratings

Overall: 3.4. Based on 2 votes and 3 reviews. Vote

Access: 4.0

(1) At least one overnight stop, (2) requires a whole day, (3) requires more than half a day – you may have time for a few turns (4) arrive by lunchtime and ski all afternoon, (5) there is a main airport within an hour of Kirkwood.

Public Transport: 1.0

(1) There are no buses or taxis to Kirkwood, (3) there are slow or infrequent buses / trains available, (5) getting to the resort is easy with frequent bus / train connections.

Scenery: 4.0

(1) An ugly resort in a bland setting, (3) average mountain views and resort, (5) a spectacular setting and a beautiful / historic resort town.

Accommodation: 3.0

(1) No places to stay in/near Kirkwood, (3) a few places to stay in the resort, (5) a wide variety of accommodation suitable to suit all budgets.

Cheap Rooms: 1.0

(1) No budget accommodation available, (3) just one or two hostels so book ahead, (5) several cheap hostels and pensions available.

Luxury Hotels: 3.0

(1) No luxury accommodation available, (3) just one or two luxury hotels so book ahead, (5) several up-market hotels in Kirkwood.

Ski in/Ski out: 5.0

(1) The ski area is located far from any accommodation, (3) a free ski bus takes you to the ski area in a short trip, (5) Ski-in ski-out accommodation is available.

Childcare: 3.0

(1) There are no child care facilities at Kirkwood, (5) the resort has excellent child-care facilities including at least one reasonably priced creche.

Snowsure: 4.0

(1) Occasionally gets enough snow for skiing, (2) is often closed due to a lack of snow, (3) occasionally suffers from a lack of snow, (4) rarely suffers from a lack of snow, (5) Kirkwood is snowsure even in the poorest seasons.

Snowmaking: 1.0

(1) Kirkwood relies entirely on natural snow, (3) there are just a few snow cannons, (5) there are snowmaking facilities on all pistes.

Snow Grooming: 3.0

(1) There are no snow groomers at Kirkwood, (3) occasionally some pistes are left ungroomed and in a poor state, (5) all the runs at Kirkwood are groomed daily.

Shelter: 3.5

(1) there is nowhere to ski when it is windy or visibility is bad and lifts often shut, (3) there are some trees for poor visibility but main lifts sometimes close, (5) Kirkwood is mostly in forest where you can ski in flat-light and windy days, lifts rarely close.

Nearby options: 2.5

(1) If snow conditions are poor at Kirkwood, it will be poor everywhere nearby, (3) there are good alternatives within an hours drive, (5) other locations on the same lift pass provide a rich variety of snowsure ski conditions.

Regional rating: 5.0

(1) Kirkwood usually has poor snow conditions compared to other resorts in region, (3) has average conditions for the region, (5) usually has the best snow conditions in the region.

Lift Staff: 5.0

(1) The staff at Kirkwood are rude or unhelpful, (5) lift staff at Kirkwood are pleasant, cheerful and eager to help.

Crowds/Queues: 3.5

(1) the resort is always busy and there are usually long lift queues, (3) it is quiet apart from occasional weekends and school holidays, (5) it is uncrowded and lift queues are very rare.

Ski Schools: 5.0

(1) No ski schools available, (2) one or two ski schools but local language only, (3) a few ski schools but book early for multi-lingual instructors, (4) plenty of ski schools and multi-lingual instructors available, (5) excellent ski schools with friendly multi-lingual ski instructors.

Hire and Repairs: 3.0

(1) Nothing can be sourced, not even ski-wax or ptex. (3) there are some ski shops but rentals need to be booked in advance, (5) good quality ski equipment can be purchased or hired and overnight repairs are possible.

Variety of pistes: 4.5

(1) The ski runs are featureless and unvaried, (3) the ski runs are varied but not extensive enough for a week, (5) Kirkwood has diverse and interesting pistes including forests and high alpine terrain.

Beginners: 3.0

(1) Beginners can only watch others ski and snowboard, (3) a few gentle slopes but beginners will get bored in less than a week, (3) Vast areas of gentle terrain.

Intermediates: 4.0

(1) No intermediate terrain at Kirkwood, (3) intermediate skiers will get bored after a few days, (5) vast areas of cruising runs.

Advanced: 5.0

(1) Nothing for advanced skiers and snowboarders, (3) enough steep terrain for a few days with some good offpiste, (5) Enough steep terrain and offpiste areas to entertain advanced skiers for at least a week.

Snow Park: 3.0

(1) Not even a kicker at Kirkwood, (3) average sized park quite well looked after, (5) huge park area and expertly crafted pipes, jumps and boardercross trails.

Off-piste: 4.5

(1) No off-piste worth mentioning, (2) off piste is out-of-bounds, (3) some varied offpiste that stays fresh for one or two days, (5) a vast array of off-piste routes that can stay untracked for several days.

Cross-country: 5.0

(1) There is nowhere to go for cross-country skiing around Kirkwood, (3) there are some cross country trails available, (5) the area features many spectacular and well maintained cross-country trails.

Luge/Toboggan: 1.0

(1) No designated luge or toboggan runs, (3) there are toboggan runs that open quite often, (5) Kirkwood has long and well maintained luge / toboggan facilities suitable for all ages.

Mountain Dining: 3.0

(1) Nowhere to buy food by the pistes, (3) some places to eat up on the mountain but they are often busy and expensive, (5) there is a variety of excellent mountain eateries right next to the slopes to suit all budgets.

Eating: 2.0

(1) Bring your own food, there isn't even a shop. (5) A wide variety of places to eat and drink in the resort, from fast food to fancy restaurants.

Apres-Ski: 3.0

(1) Nothing to do, not even a bar, (3) there are a few bars in the resort but nothing special, (5) clubs and bars stay open until very late and have a friendly atmosphere.

Other Sports: 2.0

(1) No sports facilities at all apart from ski lifts, (3) resort has just a small public swimming pool, (5) resort has all kinds of sports facilities, including a full-size swimming pool.

Entertainment: 1.5

(1) Besides the snow and walking there is nothing to do here, (3) the non-skier will find things to do for few days but may become bored after a week, (5) the resort area is a fascinating place to visit, regardless of winter sports.

Winter Walks: 3.0

(1) Very limited walking and no snowshoe trails, (3) a couple of designated scenic walking/snowshoe trails, (5) extensive and diverse winter walking trails for all abilities.

Ski Pass Value: 5.0

(1) A 1 week ski pass is overpriced compared to the number of lifts available, (3) the ski pass is averagely priced and covers a reasonable number of lifts, (5) ski passes are excellent value for money and cover a lot of lifts spanning a big area.

Value (National): 4.5

(1) Overall, Kirkwood is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country and not worth the money, (3) overall represents average value for money, (5) overall offers the best value resort in the country.

Value (Global): 4.5

(1) Overall, Kirkwood is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world, (3) overall it offers pretty average value for money compared to resorts from other countries, (5) internationally the resort offers excellent value for money.

Show all 35 ratings

April 30, 2008
Kim from Ski United Kingdom United Kingdom
I skied the spring of 2008. Chad Paeglows review of Kirkwood is very comprehensive so I won't go into much detail except to say: 1. It is phenomenally good value. Spring pass was 99 bucks. 2. Lots of the terrain is terrifying. Kirkwood is the place to sharpen you ski skills and learn to jump if you think you're an advanced skier. There are 100s of jumps ranging from Hollywood Hip, a rollover under lift 6 which pretty much any decent skier could hit, to Hospital, a 100 ft cliff drop that gets hit by a couple of maniacs per year on a big powder day. Most people should be able to find a few jumps of their level. 3. There is virtually zero apres-ski. 4. It's a short mountain.
November 02, 2004
thibaut colar from Ski United States United States
Kirkwood is y favorite resort in CA, it's a little off the beaten path and there isn't much nightlife but that's not what i'm looking for. It start by a nice ride from the bay area on scenic and uncroded highway 88, then the resort alwasy gets the very best snow of the tahoe area (it gets lots of it, and since it's colder here, the snow is drier/colder). This is quite a large resort and not too crowded compared to the main tahoe resorts. Only drwaback is that it's not a secret anymore so it's changing a bit. But the bottom line is you won't be disappinted here, espceially if you are an intermediate to expert skier.
August 22, 2003
Chad Paeglow from Ski United States United States
Kirkwood is an expert skiers/boarders paradise. While the resort has a beautiful beginners area, it is very small. Intermediate terrain is decent, but only going up 1/2 of the mountain on the front and providing only one piste from the top on the backside. Most of the locals go to Kirkwood for its other terrain. While a lot of decent advanced and expert terrain is available right off the lift, if one is willing to take short hikes the mountain really opens up. On the front the Cornice high speed quad (2000' in 4 minutes!) and the Wall triple are bottom to top lifts seperated by 3/4 of a mile of ridge line with only two relatively easy entries - the rest is an asortment of chutes and cornice drops ranging from a few feet to easily over twenty. Right under the Wall lift is the area know as the Wall - wide open vertical skiing. To skiers right of the Cornise lift is another mile of ridge line with no lift access at the top. Depending on how much skating, traversing and hiking you are willing to due you can often still get 15 fresh powder turns the day after the storm. All slopes run down to an beginner/intermediate area with an access lift that will get you back to the main base area. The backside of the mountain (which has the slowest lift - slated for an upgrade) is 1800' of wide open bowl skiing. Here you can slide right off the lift to a variety of terrain - a massive cornice called the wave, several piste runs and a variety of gullies, chutes and cliffs. Or you can take a number of hikes - straight up at 99 Steps (actually its about 400) which is aheart stopper, but can offer 10 beautiful fresh powder turns several days after a storm, or head over to Fawn Ridge, with its gentle rolling tree pitches with hidden cliff drops and powder stashes. But the real gems are inbetween the front and backside: Eagle Bowl, Thunder Saddle and Lookout Vista Ridge. Both Eagle Bowl and thunder Saddle can be hit up without any hiking and little traversing. Eagle Bowl is often empty on storm days offering up open snow fields, easy to top notch chutes and plenty of boulder drops - but be careful the bottom is long and flat, so keep up you speed. Thunder Saddle has some of the most consistantly challegeing of the mountain - offering up sigle track chutes, gullies and some great tree skiing. Inbetween these two guys is the permantly closed Cirque - which is permissble after the end of the ski season in good years - this terrain is truely expert only; often requireing a minimum of twenty feet cliff hucks into narrrow chutes to make your way down! Further out along the ridge from Thunder Saddle is Lookout Vista Ridge - not named on the trail map. The ridge requires a bit of hiking, but nothing to intense - you can make your way out there from the top of the backsaide (Emmigrant) chair by following the ridge line and hiking up hill just a bit. From the top of the ridge you can go down to the backside (often unridden until a day or two after the storm) for a short but decent fall line with some minor cliff/chutes at the top and a nice snowfield underneath. The real treat is to dive in toward the front side - this 800-1200 foot pitch offers up a cornicpoea of chutes, spines, gullies, cliffs and trees. The beauty is that there are a few easy in (even a spot where no cornice forms) to full-on extreme skiing entries, and you can get all the way down without ever going through anything to hairy to full on HUGE drops. Its a great place to work up you skill level for survival terrain. Well, at Kirkwood it is about the skiing. The rest is small time. the pub (yes really only one) is quite by 8PM and full of resort employees only. Condos and lodging are popping up, but it is sleepy here. It only helps you get up and on the slopes first thing in the morning. Last season saw over 550 inches of snow when they stopped counting in April. Kirkwood received an addditional 4-5 feet after the end of the season and re-opened for on last weekend in May. Still, many called it a bad year; but it went out with a blast receiving a 3 foot dump, followed by a week of 4-6 inches a day and another 3 foot dump, two days before the closure date (yes in April). Compared to other Tahoe resorts... Kirkwood has smaller slower lifts and offers no lake veiws, but offers up more top notch terrain per capita than even Squaw- and you do not have to deal with the yuppie crowd. Yeah, you have to hike more at Kirkwood, than at KT-22, but you are often skiing all by yourself.