Squaw Valley–More than a Ski Resort
Taking the entire family skiing requires more than a few lift tickets. Squaw Valley Ski Resort offers a village packed full of fun for everyone on a family ski getaway, not just the skiers.
When I’m planning my family’s annual winter getaway, I look for fun activities for everyone. I want shopping, dining, and winter activities like sledding and skating all within walking distance. I found all that in Squaw Valley’s Village on a recent visit.
Top Family Fun at Squaw Valley
- Snow Tubing
- Mini Snow Mobiles
- Indoor rock wall
- Outdoor trampoline
- Roasting s’mores
- Take the aerial tram to High Camp
- Tour the Olympic Museum
- Snow shoeing
- Dog sledding
- Cross country skiing
- Spa treatments
- Fireworks on select nights
- Live music on select nights
- Horse-drawn sleigh rides on select nights
- Plus lots of holiday fun during December
What I loved about The Village at Squaw Valley
- Everything is right in the Village so you don’t have to leave the resort.
- Even in the busiest time of the year it never felt crowded.
What I wanted from The Village at Squaw Valley
- A skating rink in the Village.
- Better labeling in the parking lots since it tends to be a sea of cars.
Family Fun without a Lift Ticket
My kids could ski or snowboard everyday but Mom can’t. I need a break after a few days or my legs will fall off or worse.
Sure, my kids would love to explore on their own but I’m not comfortable letting my kids, 10, 13 and 15-years-old run wild on the mountain. So I add a rest day into our family ski getaway.
I might get to sleep in an extra hour but I’ve got to keep the kids moving. And that means heading outdoors for winter family fun.
What to do at Squaw Valley Village with Kids
In a corner of the Squaw Valley Ski Resort, I found the SnoVentures area packed with winter fun. Located next to Squaw Kids, the ski and snowboarding school, SnoVentures offers a day’s worth of fun.
For kids of all ages, snow tubing gives families a fun outlet for competition. Grab a tube and use the covered surface lift for more fun with less work.
A free sledding area, located next to the snow tubing area, offers all-day fun for free if you bring-your-own equipment. Or pick up a sled in Tahoe City, just 10 miles away.
For the kids, mini snowmobiles offer thrills and a taste of the adrenaline sport with just-the-right-size option for kids. Limited to kids 6 to 12.
The Village at Squaw Valley also features an indoor rock wall. Outside I found a Sky Jump Trampoline for the kids.
For the winter athlete, the Nordic Center at the Resort of Squaw Creek at Squaw Valley offers 18km of groomed trails, located close by. Winding through the meadows in Squaw Valley offers postcard-perfect scenery.
Too much of a workout for a vacation? Try snow shoeing and pull the kids in a toboggan for fun with the littles.
Families looking for an Arctic-inspired adventure can find it at Squaw Valley. Imagine a team of Alaskan Huskies pulling the family through the snow-covered meadow on a dog sled.
Don’t forget that Squaw Valley offers horse-drawn sleigh rides and live entertainment during December. Santa skies into Squaw too. And remember to try one fo the festive meals for the holiday season.
Squaw Valley’s Aerial Tram
The aerial tram offers spectacular views of Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe beyond. A scenic ride aboard a large tram car offers a fun outing to High Camp, the terminus for the tram.
With a couple of restaurants at High Camp, take the family on a ride for lunch or dinner. Don’t forget to tour the Olympic Museum. Tickets are required.
Squaw Valley’s Olympic History
Squaw Valley’s skiing is not the only thing that’s legendary. Their successful 1960 Olympic bid is as legendary as the games themselves.
In 1955 Alex Cushing, the chairman of Squaw Valley, saw a newspaper article announcing Reno as the possible site for the 1960 Olympic Games. He threw his resort in the mix, boasting only a single chairlift and a couple of rope tows at the time.
The place to beat—Innsbruck, Austria, an international favorite.
Against all odds, Cushing secured the vote in France. With the help of the State of California and Walt Disney, the infrastructure grew out of the valley virtually overnight.
Days before the opening, Squaw Valley lacked the snow it needed. Then a fierce snowstorm blew in from the West and dumped the much needed snow.
As if orchestrated by Walt Disney himself, the head of pageantry, the clouds cleared moments before the official the start of the Olympic Games. Moments later Walt Disney released 2,000 doves into the air signaling the start of the 10-day long games.
Be sure to walk through the Olympic Museum at High Camp. My kids loved standing on the Olympic podium.
Indoor Winter Escapes
Need an escape? Sneak out to the Trilogy Spa located in The Village at Squaw Valley. Don’t forget that massages can work out the mountain kinks.
The Wanderlust Yoga Studio, located in The Village, offers drop-in classes.
The Village is packed with shopping and offers more than winter gear. Shop at the Squaw Valley Logo Company or any of the shops featuring home, kids or toy shopping.
The kids can even craft on their winter getaway.
Every Saturday evening, the Village at Squaw Valley offers live music. Then at 6 p.m., the night sky lights up with fireworks.
Squaw Valley also features a film series selected nights throughout the winter season for free movies at the Olympic Village Lodge.
For adults looking to unwind, the Auld Dubliner Irish Pub draws a crowd along with several other bars in the Village area.
Where to Eat in The Village
The Village at Squaw Valley offers lots of options for families.
During my visit, we ate at Rocker, steps from the lifts. It features a patio to watch the fireworks and a casual environment for families.
My kids dominated a plate of nachos as big as the state of California. With a little kids’ menu, big kid pleasing hamburgers, a choice of farm fresh salads, the whole table left full and happy.
For snacking during the day, I stopped by the Euro Snack trailer for savory and sweet crepes. Of course, I ran into Starbucks for coffee and hot chocolate. I also found pizza, sushi and grill options.
For the Skiers and Snowboarders
Squaw Valley Ski Resort is more than a ski resort, it’s a bucket list destination and an international favorite for over 50 years. And it was recently voted Best Ski Resort in North America by the readers of USA Today.
Any day on the mountain can’t be beat, and a day at Squaw is epic. It’s more than the world-class runs, it’s a the feeling seeps in and takes hold. It’s the kind a day that you remember for decades.
Squaw Valley by-the-Numbers
|Base Elevation: 6,200 ft.||Summit Elevation: 9,050 ft.|
|Vertical Drop: 2,850 ft.||Skiable Acres: 3,600|
|Type of Terrain||Percentage of Runs|
|Total Named Runs:||170|
1 aerial tram, 1 funitel, 1 high speed 6-pack, 3 high-speed quads, 1 quad, 9 triples, 3 doubles and 5 surface lifts
Squaw Valley Ski School
Squaw Valley offers programs divided by age. For the youngest skiers, ages 3 to 4 (potty-trained kids only), the Pioneers program focuses on fun with first time, full-day and half-day programs available.
For the 5 to 7-year-olds, kids can choose from skiing or snowboarding. The Explorers Ski and Grommets Snowboard Program is for more active kids and broken down by ability–green, blue or black-level runs.
Kids 8 to 13-years-old explore the mountain trying lots of runs along side similarly-skilled kids. The Mountaineers Ski and Jibbers Snowboard program will be on the snow the majority of the day.
All kids’ programs (ages 3 to 13) feature an afternoon first time package. Teen group lessons are available though they meet in the adult lesson area.
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.
Where’s Squaw Valley Ski Resort
Squaw Valley Ski Resort is located at 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, California. Squaw Valley is 12 miles south of Truckee, California, along California Highway 89. Tahoe City, California, a quaint mountain town on the western shores of Lake Tahoe is 10 miles away.
If flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to visit Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley is 48 miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) via Interstate 80.
My family was hosted by Squaw Valley Ski Resort though I have skied at Squaw Valley for years.
Know Before You Go
- Pack a bag of marshmallows and a couple of roasting sticks, I found several fire pits, perfect for an après-ski
- Squaw Valley Ski Resort’s partner resort, Alpine Meadows is a short complimentary shuttle ride away.
- Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements. I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.