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Best Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts for Families [And the Best Season Pass!]

Best Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts for Families [And the Best Season Pass!]

What are the best Lake Tahoe ski resorts for families? What is the best Lake Tahoe season pass is for your family? We have the answers you are looking for! Updated for the 2022/23 ski season!

There is nothing quite like a Lake Tahoe ski vacation. It is California’s premier ski destination and there are several Lake Tahoe family-friendly ski resorts.

Lake Tahoe boasts epic scenery, world-class ski resorts, proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area, comfortable ski conditions, lots of activities for kids, and good restaurants that are welcoming to families.

Every year, when the first big winter storm hits the San Francisco Bay Area, our family claps for joy because it means that Lake Tahoe is getting its first serious snowfall of the winter season.

Ski and snowboard Lake Tahoe with kids
Shredding it in Tahoe, photo by Brennan Pang

The Best Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts for Families

Just about every ski resort in Lake Tahoe welcomes families with open arms. However, all ski resorts are not created equal.

Our guide to the best resorts for families will help you decide where to hit the slopes with your kids in tow! Depending on what’s important to your family, here are our recommendations for the best ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area.

Check out our Ultimate Family Ski Vacation Planning Guide. It’s an incredible resource to prepare families for an ultimate ski vacation.

Heavenly Ski Resort- Best All-Around Lake Tahoe Ski Resort for Families

Heavenly Ski Resort is one of the best Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts for families
Heavenly Ski Resort, photo by Flickr/Brenrub

There are lots of reasons why Heavenly Ski Resort consistently gets rave reviews from Trekaroo families. This large ski resort features lots of intermediate runs, so families are able to ski together happily for a large part of the day.

In addition, families with young children love Heavenly’s exceptional ski school. We particularly love how easy the drop-off and pick up experience is. Thoughtful touches like having ski instructors take care of fitting your children with rental equipment and very friendly staff make all the difference at drop off.

Heavenly’s Child Care and Nursery offers care for wee ones as young as 6-weeks old in their CA-licensed nursery. It is the only ski resort offering this service. Heavenly Childcare even offers unique ski-play programs for 3 and 4-year-olds who are ready to be eased onto the slopes but prefer to play.

We also love Heavenly’s delicious on-mountain dining options serving heart-warming favorites like burgers and chili but also healthy options like fresh salads and gourmet meals for those who like to dine well.

Numerous lodges throughout the vast mountain make it easy for families to take frequent breaks and rendezvous for meals mid-mountain.

World-class skiing and an excellent ski school do come at a price. One-day lift tickets at Heavenly aren’t cheap, but the Epic Day Pass and season passes are an incredible value. See our comparison of Tahoe ski passes below.

Trekaroo families rave about the friendly and attentive staff at Heavenly who are eager to help families find their way around, stay safe and have an unforgettably happy day.

See more of the Golden State. Here are the best things to do in California with kids

Accommodation Options at Heavenly

Heavenly is located in South Lake Tahoe, which has a variety of family-friendly accommodations within steps of the Heavenly Gondola.

Here’s our list of Kid-friendly Hotels Near Heavenly Ski Resorts in South Lake Tahoe.

Check for hotel availability in Lake Tahoe

Palisades Tahoe- The Best “All-inOne” Lake Tahoe Ski Resort for Families

Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Tahoe
Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort, photo by Flickr/RenoTahoe

Palisades Tahoe is another favorite ski resort with Trekaroo families. Palisades Tahoe comprises the Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows base areas. And in 2022, both ski areas will be connected by a Gondola making Tahoe Palisades one of the largest ski resorts in North America. There is so much to do in Palisades Tahoe.

Palisades Tahoe is on the north shore. Here are the best things to do in North Lake Tahoe.

Palisade’s lodging is luxury all the way. Upscale stores and restaurants abound in the village and a shuttle runs between the two ski areas. The staff at Palisades and their partner establishments located in Olympic Village sure seem to understand how to welcome their guests. We have reviews of the Palisades Tahoe Lodge and Village at Palisades Tahoe.

The ski school is fully equipped to accommodate kids ages three and up at all levels of skiing, and the facilities have fun play areas. For a quieter experience, head to the Alpine Meadows ski school instead. Check out our review of the Alpine Meadows Kids Camp Ski School.

The cable car ride up to High Camp is a big hit, offering stunning views of Olympic Valley as well as ice-skating, hot tubs, and a heated pool. There is lots of space for little ones to build a snowman while down at the base of the Gondola, as well as a climbing wall and other amusements.

Palisades Tahoe also boasts a popular tubing hill and throws disco tubing events featuring DJs and lasers. All in all, Trekaroo families agree that for the premium you pay to stay and ski at Palisades Tahoe, you’ll won’t be wanting for much.

Northstar- The Lake Tahoe Ski Resort with the Best On-Site Childcare

Northstar Tahoe View
View of Lake Tahoe from Northstar, photo by Flickr/ Kwilms

Northstar is Heavenly’s sister resort on the North Shore, offering luxury accommodations and amenities. While there are lots of family-friendly touches at Northstar, their Minor’s Camp gets big kudos from Trekaroo families.

There are just a handful of ski resorts at Lake Tahoe that offer on-site child care. Minor’s Camp accepts children ages two to six years old. Located at the golf course base, the large and spacious facility is cheerful and filled with fun activities. Your child will perk up the moment you enter.

This is a CA state-licensed facility with a low adult-to-child ratio of 1:5. The setup and staff were so welcoming that even little ones who usually have difficulty separating will feel very comfortable at Minor’s Camp.

In addition to excellent downhill skiing and snowboarding, Northstar also offers cross-country skiing and tubing.


Sierra-at-Tahoe- Best Lake Tahoe Ski Resort for Families Looking for Value

Sierra at Tahoe Snowboarding
Catching Air at Sierra-at-Tahoe, photo by Flickr/HowISeeLife

What kid doesn’t want to learn to snowboard using Star Wars props? At family-friendly Sierra-at-Tahoe, that’s what they get in the Burton Star Wars Experience. Plus, you’ll find great instructors in a low-key environment.

Sierra-at-Tahoe is closer to Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area via Hwy 50, and vacation homes and motels in the area are generally less expensive.

This ski resort is a popular ‘commuter’ mountain. There are fewer crowds, less night life, and more focus on what people actually come for: the snow.

Sierra’s lessons is open again this year with private lessons continuing to be offered and smaller group lessons. For the latest details, check the Sierra FAQ site.

The instructors here know that the best way for kids to learn is to come often. Older kids who are accomplished skiers and riders will love Sierra’s chutes, and as parents, we love that all runs funnel into a single bowl making it easier for everyone to find their way down at the end of the day.

Sierra-at-Tahoe resort also offers a tubing hill.

Which Lake Tahoe Season Pass Should Families Get?

Updated for 2022/2023 ski and snowboard season.


Every year, the season pass wars wage fiercer, but the competition is great for skiing families. There are basically two top contenders. Keep in mind that things are different this year, as some passes require reservations so that the resorts can keep tabs on capacity on the mountains.

The Epic Local Pass for Tahoe gives you access to the three Vail Resort’s Tahoe mountains – Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood.

The Ikon Pass for Lake Tahoe Resorts gives you access to Palisades Tahoe (Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows).

Sierra-at-Tahoe also offers a season pass of exceptional value for families with kids 12 and under.

Furthermore, each of these passes differentiates by restrictions and benefits at different price points. In order to make a proper comparison, you’ve got to read the fine print and take into consideration what’s most important to your family in deciding which season pass is right for your family.

The below comparison takes into account some of the most important factors families will consider – value, blackout dates and restrictions, and quality of skiable terrain.

Value Comparison of Season Passes for a family of 4 (2 adults, 1 teen, 1 kid)

Here’s a side-by-side comparison that cuts through the clutter of options and focuses on the five best season passes that families should consider for skiing. atLake Tahoe. Here’s are our top considerations:

  • You don’t plan to ski anywhere else besides Lake Tahoe this season.
  • You can work around blackout dates
  • *Price comparison uses the following family unit 2-adults, 1-teens, and 1-kid
  • You will be skiing for more than 7 days if not, a season pass is not your best option.

If you plan to ski less, you might want to consider the Epic Day Pass or the Ikon Day Pass, which offers discounted rates for purchasing lift tickets early in the season.

Epic Pass
Tahoe Value Pass *Top Recommended
Epic Pass
Tahoe Local Pass
Ikon Base PassSierra-at-Tahoe Unlimited Season PassSierra-at-Tahoe
Play Pass
11 blackout dates11 blackout dates12 blackout datesNo blackout dates12 blackout dates
Unlimited weekend access at Heavenly and Kirkwood. No access to Northstar on Saturdays.Unlimited weekend access to Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood. Unlimited access to 7 North American ski resorts, including Palisades Tahoe. Restricted access 20+ more outside Tahoe. Unlimited weekend access to Sierra-at-TahoeUnlimited weekend access to Sierra-at-Tahoe
Additional for
ski school:
kids half day $200+ kids full day $245+
adult half day $330+

Additional for
ski school:
kids half day $200+ kids full day $245+
adult half day $330+

Additional for ski school:
kids half day $195+
kids full day $270+
adult half day $170+
Additional for ski school:
kids half day $195+
kids full day $270+
adult half day $170+
Additional for ski school:
kids full day $279
Big discounts for bundles
adult 2-hour $119+
*Prices above are for 4 people (2 adults, one teen, and one child). College passes and children under 4 are not part of this calculation. Updated for 2022-23 ski season.

Consider the Cost of Ski School

When deciding which season pass is suitable for your family, it is also vital to consider how many ski/snowboard lessons your family plans to take. Do you prefer half-day or full-day lessons for kids? The cost of lessons adds up quickly for families. For the 2022-23 season, Kirkwood has the lowest prices for both half and full-day lessons. Pricing is variable between the different ski resorts. Be sure to double-check the resort’s website.

Also, consider that lift tickets bundled with full-day group lessons can sometimes be a better deal.

Quality of Skiing Offered

The Epic Local and Tahoe Value Passes give you access to three ski resorts – Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood. Combined, this is almost double the skiable terrain of Palisades Tahoe.

Considering that snowfall can be variable around the Lake Tahoe area, having the option to ski at different locations with different ski conditions is a plus.

On the other hand, it’s nice that Palisades Tahoe includes Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows. The two base areas are close together and are now connected by a gondola. You can easily ski at both in a single day if you choose to.

Number of Blackout Dates and Restricted Days

The blackout dates for both passes are primarily during the holidays (between Christmas and New Year, MLK weekend, and President’s Day Weekend). If you plan on skiing during these times, both offer the option of purchasing discounted tickets during blackout dates.

If skiing on Saturdays is important to you, you’ll still get the most value from the Tahoe Value Pass because you can still ski at Heavenly or Kirkwood.

Recommended Unlimited Access Season Pass

If you are looking for unlimited skiing during the holidays, the Vail Resorts Epic Pass is comparable to the Ikon Pass for Palisades Tahoe. Both offer unrestricted access to all their Tahoe resorts. This year’s passes offer additional access and perks at resorts outside Tahoe in the United States and internationally.

Now, go forth and shred the gnar!

Visiting Lake Tahoe in summer? Check out these 24 spectacular things to do in Lake Tahoe this summer.