Ask powder hounds for their favorite California destination, and chances are they’ll say Kirkwood—if they’re willing to share the secret. This stunning resort, roughly 35 miles/56 kilometres south of Lake Tahoe, often gets the steep-and-deep creds for the region. Its jagged granite peaks tend to snag heavy dumps of snow, making it the go-to spot for in-the-snow locals. Head out early for unforgettable first tracks, particularly on the pristine backside runs. For a real heart-pumper, take on the notorious The Wall, with a dramatic steep start that opens up into a whoop-it-up big-turning dream. Kirkwood also offers an array of build-your-skills experiences with its Expedition: Kirkwood program. Choose from private backcountry guides, Snowcat tours, specialty ski and board clinics, avalanche certification courses, and women’s-only adventures.
It’s not all chutes and off-piste at Kirkwood; the Timber Creek area caters to beginners and families, with an excellent ski- and boarding school and a relaxed base lodge.
Insider tip: Consider getting an Epic Pass for access to Kirkwood, Heavenly, and Northstar California; there are various options and pricings, so check to see which one could work for your vacation plans.