Tahoe’s West Shore is where the mountain rim of the Tahoe basin drops most abruptly to the lake. Along this steep escarpment, strong Pacific storms dump powder in the east-facing bowls—an average of 40 feet each winter.
Only one Tahoe resort sits directly on the West Shore, and it’s long been a local favorite. Homewood, five miles south of Tahoe City, has only 1,260 skiable acres, but there’s plenty of awesome tree skiing for powderhounds and drop-dead gorgeous lake views for everyone else. From the top of Madden Triple Chair, Lake Tahoe appears like a vast blue sea. Skiers and riders alike pause to mutter the word “Sweet,” then pull out their cameras and snap a few memories.
Powder is king here; Homewood sees an average snowfall of 482 inches, even though its summit elevation is only 7,880 feet. If it’s a bluebird powder day, you’ll have to rise before dawn to beat the locals to fresh tracks.
Very little of the resort is visible from the highway (only one run), so first-timers are always surprised at how much varied terrain is available. The resort offers 60 trails, including a longest run of two miles with a 1,650-foot drop. Trails are serviced by eight lifts, including a high-speed quad installed in 2007 that whisks skiers to the resort’s north side in just four minutes.
There’s little in the way of amenities at Homewood—no lodging or shops, and only a handful of on-mountain restaurants. This is a skier’s mountain, not a ski resort. Most of the chairlifts travel at a mellow pace, so if you are impatient (or if it’s freezing cold), you may not be happy here. But for Homewood lovers, the resort’s laid-back vibe is part of its charm. And due to its unique location on the West Shore, Homewood is one of the few Tahoe resorts that is almost never subject to wind hold. There hasn't been a wind-related lift closure here in more than a decade.
Children's snowsports programs are a big draw. Homewood’s South Lodge is home to the Snow Rangers Academy for kids ages 4 to 12. Starting in 2009-2010, Homewood will offer GPS tracking for kids enrolled in ski and ride camps. Parents can track their child’s location on the mountain in real time.
Homewood was recently purchased by the same folks who own Alpine Meadows, and over the next 5-10 years there will be big changes at the resort. A planned village complex of lodging and restaurants is in the works, intended to change Homewood from a commuter’s ski resort to one where people will stay and play for a few days, in the same style as Squaw and Northstar. But for now, Homewood is still an old-school, intimate resort, and plenty of skiers like it that way just fine.
*resort photo courtesy of Homewood Mountain Resort