Sugar Bowl

by skiresorts.com
​Sugar Bowl is known as “ground zero” for snowfall. Situated at 6,883 feet at the top of Donner Summit off Old Highway 40—the Lincoln Highway, the first road across America—the resort can boast of having the most snow of any ski slope on the North Shore. Average snowfall at Sugar Bowl is a whopping 500 inches.

It’s also the grand old dame of Tahoe resorts. Sugar Bowl had the first chairlift in operation in California, which started transporting skiers in 1938. It also had the first gondola in the United States, constructed in 1953.

Steeped in history, Sugar Bowl wins hands-down for “most alpine charm” of all the Tahoe resorts. One of its founders was cartoon genius Walt Disney, and Matterhorn-esque touches are apparent all around the resort. One of its unique features is the road-less Snowbound Village, located at the top of a mile-long gondola, where the secluded Inn at Sugar Bowl has been welcoming guests since the 1930s. Its quaintly rustic guest rooms and view-filled dining room lined with historic skiing photos give it a decidedly European feel.

The resort is known for its variety of terrain, including deep powder, wide-open bowls, groomed cruisers, tree-dotted glades, and steep, narrow chutes. In 2005, the expansion of the resort’s Mt. Judah area made it easier for skiers to access the mountain via a new road and parking area. It also opened up a new chunk of intermediate terrain.

Nearly 90 trails on four mountain peaks are serviced by 13 lifts, including five high-speed quads. The longest run, Crowley’s off Mount Lincoln, is three miles long with a 1,500-foot vertical drop. If you’re looking for steep, go for The Palisades. If you want to ski a piece of history, head over to Silver Belt, a long, almost half-pipe shaped run that demands a series of short-radius turns. From 1940 to 1975, it was the setting for the Silver Belt Classic, a world-class ski race that was a precursor to today’s World Cup.

Experienced skiers looking for something off-the-beaten-track can sign up for a guided backcountry tour and enjoy a near-guarantee of untracked snow glistening under a bluebird sky. Those who prefer to stick close to home will enjoy the resort’s day lodges, which offer outdoor dining on sun-soaked decks overlooking the snowcapped peaks. And if you are thinking of bringing the kids for their first snow-sport lessons, the 7,000-square-foot Mountain Sports Learning Center has ticketing, lessons, and rentals all under one roof.

For skiers traveling from airports in the San Francisco Bay Area or Sacramento, Sugar Bowl offers a bonus: It’s only two miles east of I-80, so you’ll be on the slopes here at least half an hour before you’ll get to Squaw Valley, Northstar, or Alpine Meadows. To avoid the weekend crowds, start your day on the west side of the resort by parking alongside Donner Pass Road and taking the mini-car gondola up to the Snowbound Village. From there, ride the Disney Express lift to the top.

Except for the Slopeside Inn at Sugar Bowl, most of your lodging and dining options are found in the Old West town of Truckee, just a few miles away. Be sure to stroll through its historic downtown, complete with wooden sidewalks and a surprisingly upscale assortment of shops and restaurants. An après-ski meal at Moody’s Bistro or Cottonwood is a fine way to cap off a day at sweet Sugar Bowl.

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​Contact Info:

629 Sugar Bowl Rd., Norden, 95724

Phone:
530-426-9000

Driving Directions


From Reno: Take Interstate 80 west to Truckee. For the fastest route from Truckee, take the last Truckee exit at Donner Pass Road. Turn left on Donner Pass Road. Follow the road past Donner Lake about three miles up over the summit. Turn left at the Main entrance sign to Sugar Bowl.  Donner Pass Road (Highway 40) is frequently maintained and open as conditions permit. Call 530-426-1111 for road updates.

If you prefer to stay on Interstate 80, take it over Donner Summit to the Norden/Soda Springs exit. Turn left on Highway 40, and continue about 3 miles to Sugar Bowl's Village Gondola parking lot. The covered parking lot is on your right. Or continue on Highway 40 another 1/2 mile to the Main Lot and convenient slopeside parking near the new Main Lodge.

From Sacramento:  Take interstate 80 east, towards Donner Summit. Then exit at the Norden/Soda Springs off ramp, Exit 174. Turn right on Highway 40 eastbound, and continue 3 miles to Sugar Bowl's Village Gondola parking lot. The covered parking lot is on your right.

Or for faster access to the slopes and terrain park, continue on Highway 40 another 1/2 mile. Turn right at the Main entrance and park in the Main Lot for convenient slope-side parking near the new Main Lodge.

From San Francisco:  Take the Bay Bridge to Interstate 80, head east toward Sacramento/Reno. Just before you reach Donner Summit look for the "Sugar Bowl Next Exit" sign then exit at the Norden/Soda Springs off ramp. Turn right on Highway 40 eastbound, and continue 3 miles to Sugar Bowl's Village Gondola parking lot. The covered parking lot is on your right.

Or for faster access to the slopes and terrain park, continue on Highway 40 another 1/2 mile to the Main Lot and convenient slopeside parking beside the new Main Lodge.

From San Jose:  To get to Interstate 80 eastbound, there are 2 options:

1) Take Highway 880 north about 40 miles to 80 east toward Sacramento.

2) Or take Highway 680 north. Connect to Highway 80 east (at Fairfield). Take Hwy 80 east toward Sacramento/Reno.

When you reach Sacramento, take Hwy 80 toward Reno. When you see the "Sugar Bowl Next Exit" sign on I-80, just before Donner Summit, exit at the Norden/Soda Springs exit. Turn right on Highway 40 eastbound, and continue 3 miles to Sugar Bowl's Village Gondola parking lot. The covered parking lot is on your right.

Or for faster access to the slopes and terrain park, continue on Highway 40 another 1/2 mile to the Main Lot and convenient slopeside parking beside the new Main Lodge.

From Tahoe City:  Take Highway 89 north to Highway 80. Continue under the freeway to Donner Pass Road at the Gateway Shopping Center in Truckee. Turn left on Donner Pass Road and follow it past Donner Lake, three miles up and over the summit. Note: Donner Pass Road (Highway 40) is frequently maintained and open as conditions permit. It's the fastest route from Truckee, and much quicker than Interstate 80. Call 530-426-1111 for road updates.  Turn left at Sugar Bowl's Main Entrance for convenient slopeside parking near the new Main Lodge and quick access to our express quads and terrain parks.

From Truckee:  Take Donner Pass Road past Donner Lake. Head three miles up and over the summit. Note: Donner Pass Road (Highway 40) is frequently maintained and open as conditions permit. It's the fastest route from Truckee, and much quicker than Interstate 80. Call 530-426-1111 for road updates.  Turn left at Sugar Bowl's Main Entrance for convenient slopeside parking near the new Main Lodge.