Have you heard, it’s dumping snow in Lake Tahoe right now. If spending time with your family on the snow on your bucket list, I urge you to check out Lake Tahoe for your next weekend away.
The carful of kids are loaded in the SUV and ready to go. It’s been two years since we hit the slopes; I think we might need a little practice. I need to find a place that can get us back up and skiing where we left off.
My oldest is 13 and shouldn’t have a problem. For the 8-year-old, two years is a long time and he might need a lesson. My 11-year-old board boy falls in between. With that in mind, I’ve got a great, first day planned to get the carful of kids back in form.
Granlibakken-Tahoe, more than a Ski Hill
The carful of kids want to check out Granlibakken-Tahoe, half a mile from Tahoe City (725 Granlibakken Road, Tahoe City). This resort is great for families with novice skiers or skiers that have taken a break for a few years.
Granlibakken-Tahoe has offered skiing and sledding in Lake Tahoe since 1928, when a local hotel stayed open year-round. Borrowing its name from Norwegian, it means a hill sheltered by trees.
Granlibakken-Tahoe offers lodging ranging from lodge rooms to three-bedroom town homes. Nestled on 74-acres surrounded by fir trees, it’s not uncommon to see wildlife walking through their property.
Though conveniently located near Tahoe City, one of the largest towns on Lake Tahoe, Granlibakken-Tahoe seems secluded from the hum of tourists. Some guests even walk to Tahoe City for its restaurants and shopping.
Besides downhill skiing and snowboarding, they have snowshoe and cross-country ski trails as well. The rental shop at Granlibakken has equipment for downhill and cross country skiing, snow boarding and snow shoeing, along with helmets.
In addition to the snow sports, they feature a year-round heated, outdoor pool and hot tub. Partnering with North Tahoe Adventures, Granlibakken has an aerial adventure park that’s open year-round. With several different courses, it’s open to kids ages 5 and older.
What this Mom likes about Granlibakken-Tahoe
Granlibakken-Tahoe is one of the smallest, lowest and least inexpensive ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area. This makes it an excellent option for families with several children.
I need a small resort.
Let’s face it, each kid has their own needs. Since I’m taking the kids skiing by myself, I can’t lose a kid at a mega-huge resort.
The 13-year-old is annoyed by her family and wants some freedom. The 11-year-old board boy doesn’t know his limits. We need gentle terrain so we don’t end up in the ER later. The 8-year-old is timid and would play on his iPad all day, if I let him.
What’s a Mom to do? Surrender and stay home?
Nope. You can keep them all happy at Granlibakken and still have time for Mom to ski.
Since their resort is one of the smallest, I could watch all my kids at the same time. Even when they were doing different things. It took me no time to round them up for a break and they couldn’t tell me they didn’t see me.
I need a low resort.
With Granlibakken’s elevation at 6,350 feet, it’s the best resort for people who have problems at higher elevations, especially kids. It’s important to let your body adjust for the first few days to prevent headaches and nausea.
My 11-year-old gets sick over 9,000 feet so I have find resorts that are at lower elevations. The carful of kids can’t ski in some states since the resorts are too high, like Colorado.
I need an inexpensive resort.
The best feature of Granlibakken-Tahoe is its affordability.
For a lift ticket and rental equipment for an adult, it’s $70 a day during the kids’ school break. For kids 12 and under, it’s $55 a day during their school break. If you want to take the kids skiing for a half-day, they have lift tickets for $16 for adults and $10 for the kids under 12. What a bargain.
For $70 per person, 7 and older, you can sign up for a beginner group lesson including rentals and a lift ticket. If your kids are under 7-years-old, you have to sign them up for a private lesson.
Our Day at Granlibakken-Tahoe
The carful of kids ski over school breaks. You know what that means–crowds. Not at Granlibakken, I don’t see any crazy lines and it doesn’t feel crowded.
After a late start, we pull into the resort at 10 a.m. This would’ve been a disaster at another resort. I am able to park close to the entrance and I find one family in front of us in the rental line.
In the rental shop, the guys size up the kids and get them in great gear, fast. When I slip on my ski boots, I’m amazed–virtually brand new and very comfy.
The carful of kids walk out on the deck behind the rental shop and find an empty table. I put down our stuff and spray the kids’ faces with sunscreen.
I’m not finished getting the youngest suited up when the 13-year-old is gone. I look around and spot her in the lift line. With her bright scarf, I can spot her anywhere in the ski or sled area.
The next to bail is my boy and his board. I check out the terrain, it’s relativity tame. He wanders over to the lift line behind his sister.
Now the 8-year-old is suited up and we ski about 20 feet and he goes down. And then he’s out. I can’t get him to continue.
I think, this is it, we’ll have to leave. Then he agrees to play in the snow making a snowman just feet from the rest of the carful of kids on the beginner lift.
Day saved. I would not have been comfortable doing this at any other resort.
The Lifts at Granlibakken
Granlibakken has a rope tow instead of a magic carpet for their beginner hill. This is the first time that the carful of kids have used one.
Once the norm at ski resorts across the country, they have disappeared due to the popularity of the Magic Carpet lift. The rope tow requires a little more coordination for younger skiers that must ski up the hill while being pulled by the tow.
The 11 and 13-year-olds don’t have a problem. They follow the directions of the lift operator and up they go. I didn’t have a problem either.
If your children are under 6-years-old, this might be a problem. Some Moms put their smaller kids between their legs and scoot them up the hill while Mom holds the rope tow handle.
After multiple runs down the beginner hill, the carful of kids are feeling good. It’s all coming back. Time we move up the mountain to the longer run.
Granlibakken utilizes a platter lift for the steeper side of their ski hill. It requires you to pull a pole that has a round disc down and place it between your legs. Then you are pulled up the hill by the disc about the size of a dinner plate.
The lift operator patiently explains this to my board boy and myself. The first time is a bit tricky but my son has no problems. For a Mom who has birthed three kids, I’m really working those thigh muscles. If I didn’t squeeze tight, I might slide right down the hill, backwards.
Granlibakken’s Ski Hut
The carful of kids are ready for a break and Granlibakken has that covered. We head inside of their heated Ski Hut Snack Bar.
I love it. It’s a log cabin that takes me back to vintage Tahoe. The vintage Tahoe that you see in the posters on the walls of most resorts.
Inside, we find a wood stove with a rack to warm your gloves. There are tables around the stove with plenty of seating.
You will find kid-friendly items on the menu. We grab a snack and head back outside to our table. With a blue bird sky and endless sun, the conditions in Lake Tahoe could not be better. Hard to believe it’s not above freezing.
The Sledding Hill at Granlibakken
After our snack, the carful of kids move on to the sledding hill. Since it’s right next to the ski hill, I can watch the kids and work on my skiing at the same time.
For $15 per person, you get a saucer and access to the sled hill. I didn’t find a Magic Carpet lift on the sled hill but my kids didn’t need one. It’s a manageable climb for most kids.
The carful of kids love it. It’s fast. The staff at Granlibakken-Tahoe keeps the sledding area safe since the previous sledders walk off before the next sledders can slide down.
The carful of kids sled down it again and again, alternating between linking together and racing each other.
Ski, Sled and S’more
As soon as the sun sinks behind the mountain, it’s time to find someplace warm. Granlibakken-Tahoe lights a fire pit surrounded by log benches that adds to the rustic charm of a day of skiing in their secluded resort.
In the Ski Hut, you can purchase a bag with a chocolate bar, four graham crackers and six marshmallows for $5. At the fire pit, the resort has skewers to roast them up, a must-do for the kids.
After a long day of skiing and sledding, nothing beats a S’more. A little treat can really make the difference and hold my kids over until dinner.
Is it Your First Family Ski Trip?
What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there and pulled together a list to help you out.
Need some advice on picking a ski school for your kids? I’ve got some tips for families to find the best program.
More Lake Tahoe Fun for Families
Looking for more places to discover in Lake Tahoe? Got a couple of my favorite spots to share.
Then discover a quaint town to spend an afternoon, like Tahoe City.
My family was hosted by Grandlibakken-Tahoe.
Know before you go:
- The skiing at Granlibakken is best for novice skiers and snow boarders.
- Granlibakken caters to families that have some children that ski and some that want to sled. You can watch both hills at the same time. I was comfortable letting my kids go back and forth.
- Granlibakken is a good resort to start your ski vacation if it has been a few years since your last ski trip.
- Granlibakken does not teach kids under 4 and doesn’t feature a separate ski school area.