Visitor reviews for Squaw Valley Ski Resort
December 09, 2015
Rehntier from United States
No question that Lake Tahoe has a lot going for it. Northern Lake Tahoe is beautiful, has a laid back vibe and, sporadically, gets epic snowfall (although, be warned, you can also go weeks or even months without a snowflake plus fresh snow turns to concrete pretty quickly here).
Squaw, unfortunately, is way overhyped and overpriced. While it definitely has some steep terrain, anyone who calls this a "big mountain" hasn't skied a big mountain:
- the overall ski area feels pretty small: small compared to Vail and downright tiny compared to most important European ski resorts.
- while some runs and chutes are definitely steep and expert-only, the vertical is way too low to make for a true Alpine feel: Yes, you can jump a cliff, but a "big mountain" to a free rider means 5,000 vertical, hidden itineraries, glaciers... Of course, we all know Squaw doesn't have any of this but what is it with all the hype?
- the lift system is incredibly outdated, there can be bad lift lines and the lift ticket pricing is outrageous! I haven't checked recently but am pretty sure you can ski Zermatt or Chamonix at a cheaper daily rate than Squaw Valley!
Tahoe at its best is beautiful, laid back and non-pretentious. Alpine Meadows used to be a great example: a small area, yes, but a great vibe, beautiful vistas, even an outdoor grill in the back bowl to soak in the sun rays between powder runs. Squaw, on the other hand, sacrificed some of those qualities in a misguided and unsuccessful effort to hype itself as more than it can ever be.
All this said: Skiing in California is a LOT of fun!
Squaw Valley Ratings
Overall: 4.4. Based on 6 votes and 4 reviews. Vote
(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 Squaw Valley.
Public Transport: 3.0
(1) There are no buses or taxis to Squaw Valley, (3) there are slow or infrequent buses / trains available, (5) getting to the resort is easy with frequent bus / train connections.
(1) An ugly resort in a bland setting, (3) average mountain views and resort, (5) a spectacular setting and a beautiful / historic resort town.
(1) No places to stay in/near Squaw Valley, (3) a few places to stay in the resort, (5) a wide variety of accommodation suitable to suit all budgets.
Cheap Rooms: 3.2
(1) No budget accommodation available, (3) just one or two hostels so book ahead, (5) several cheap hostels and pensions available.
Luxury Hotels: 4.7
(1) No luxury accommodation available, (3) just one or two luxury hotels so book ahead, (5) several up-market hotels in Squaw Valley.
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.
(1) There are no child care facilities at Squaw Valley, (5) the resort has excellent child-care facilities including at least one reasonably priced creche.
(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) Squaw Valley is snowsure even in the poorest seasons.
(1) Squaw Valley relies entirely on natural snow, (3) there are just a few snow cannons, (5) there are snowmaking facilities on all pistes.
Snow Grooming: 4.8
(1) There are no snow groomers at Squaw Valley, (3) occasionally some pistes are left ungroomed and in a poor state, (5) all the runs at Squaw Valley are groomed daily.
(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) Squaw Valley is mostly in forest where you can ski in flat-light and windy days, lifts rarely close.
Nearby options: 4.7
(1) If snow conditions are poor at Squaw Valley, 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: 4.3
(1) Squaw Valley 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: 4.8
(1) The staff at Squaw Valley are rude or unhelpful, (5) lift staff at Squaw Valley are pleasant, cheerful and eager to help.
(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: 4.7
(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: 5.0
(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: 5.0
(1) The ski runs are featureless and unvaried, (3) the ski runs are varied but not extensive enough for a week, (5) Squaw Valley has diverse and interesting pistes including forests and high alpine terrain.
(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.
(1) No intermediate terrain at Squaw Valley, (3) intermediate skiers will get bored after a few days, (5) vast areas of cruising runs.
(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: 4.3
(1) Not even a kicker at Squaw Valley, (3) average sized park quite well looked after, (5) huge park area and expertly crafted pipes, jumps and boardercross trails.
(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.
(1) There is nowhere to go for cross-country skiing around Squaw Valley, (3) there are some cross country trails available, (5) the area features many spectacular and well maintained cross-country trails.
(1) No designated luge or toboggan runs, (3) there are toboggan runs that open quite often, (5) Squaw Valley has long and well maintained luge / toboggan facilities suitable for all ages.
Mountain Dining: 4.8
(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.
(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.
(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: 4.2
(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.
(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: 4.3
(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: 4.5
(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): 4.3
(1) Overall, Squaw Valley 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): 4.3
(1) Overall, Squaw Valley 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.
March 28, 2011
coldsmoker from Australia
Amazing terrain at Squaw, and consistently large snow falls (save for January 2011!!).
Problem is though when they do get the snow, the mountain is slow getting terrain open, or the upper mountain will be on wind hold, often leaving 30 min+ waits at the bottom of the select few lifts that do open. This leaves you stuck in line with a bunch of rude, and aggressive locals who'll ski right over your skis or board to get one precious chair ahead of you in the line. When they finally do get Granite Chief/Headwall/ KT22 or whatever open on a powder day you will get a pretty sweet run in.....before you have to spend the rest of your morning in line again. If you can be bothered lining up again, by the time you get back to the top most of the decent lines will be tracked out.
Also due to the generally mild conditions the snow usually turns to crud within a day or two of a snow fall. What is not mentioned when they are broadcasting 10 feet of new snow is that several inches of rain also accompanied the storm.
We had season passes this season but I wouldn't bother going back to this place. Plenty of other places with great terrain if you are prepared to hunt it out, and without the crowds, hype and aggro....and where you can actually ski powder all day.
On a different note, can someone tell the 'Squaw Valley USA' marketing that no-one really cares any more that they hosted the Olympics way back when. It was over 50 years ago, get over it!
November 18, 2009
Butters from United States
Everybody has their own reason to explain the magnetic draw of Squaw (Squaw Valley). Some locals spend their whole season on the notorious steeps of KT-22, the mother of all Tahoe expert runs, named for the number of kick turns it takes to get down from the top.
For others, Squaw’s allure is the powder-filled woods of Granite Chief, or the daredevil challenge of the mountain’s craggy outcrops and unforgiving moguls.
Squaw is not a place for skiers who shun crowds; on winter weekends, this is always the busiest resort on the North Shore. It helps if you know where to go. Beginners should head to the lifts at High Camp, with its large, open bowl and great views of Lake Tahoe. Lower on the mountain, the Papoose Learning Area is also a good place for novices to get a feel for the mountain. On the other end of the skills spectrum, the slopes of KT-22, Granite Chief, and Broken Arrow offer only expert terrain. Intermediates will do well in the Snow King, Shirley Lake, and Emigrant Peak areas.
Found a great article on Squaw Valley skiing. Check it out, might be useful for those who are information digging. skiresorts.com
February 06, 2009
Ski Llama from United States
Squaw Valley is a big mountain with big bowls and big cliffs. Lots of concrete and glass at the base area and mid mountain lodges.
Squaw Valley is an experts playground. There is more lift-accessible expert terrain at Squaw than any resort in Tahoe and most other resorts in the U.S. Squaw is on par with Jackson Hole and Mammoth in terms of terrain for the true experts.
The view of KT-22 and the Headwall at Squaw Valley is imposing as first viewed from the access road. There are lots of intermediate cruisers all over the mountain. And the mid-mountain plateau is a great area for learning.