It’s All Downhill From Here – Tips On Snowboarding & Skiing For Beginners In Tahoe

By: Alex Silgalis

Skiing and Boarding Heavenly Mountain Resort Lake Tahoe

Updated January 2024

So your friends all ski and snowboard but you haven’t had the chance? It’s not too late! Sometimes we let fear block our way to trying something new. Something bigger. Something marvelous. Get out of your comfort zone and try skiing or snowboarding this season. You’ll meet new friends, get outside, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

family skiing in lake tahoe
Family Skiing Heavenly Mountain Resort Lake Tahoe

Rent, Don’t Buy For Your First Time

A new snowboard or pair of skis can cost anywhere from $500 to $1000. We have a number of businesses in town ready to rent you everything you need to set you up for success. For a full run-down of all the shops in Tahoe and what they offer, head over to our Tahoe Ski Rentals section.

Hot Tip: Borrow Clothing Where Possible

We get it. You want to look good on the slopes, but out of all things for snowboarding & skiing for beginners in Tahoe, this is where you can afford to be frugal. Borrow a friend’s jacket, an uncle’s pair of goggles, or ski pants from an older sibling. All my first ski clothing was from my Uncle, and you know what? It worked just fine!

What To Buy

The rule of what to buy versus borrow is simple: If it touches your skin, it might be a good idea to buy. That means the base layer which includes thermals and ski socks. If you want to learn more about what is a base layer and what to look for in clothing, head over to the Local Freshies article: Helmets, Mitts, Boots & Ski Suits – Equipment For Skiing & Snowboarding. You may want to think about purchasing knee pads and wrist guards for extra protection and maximum comfort.

Say ‘NO!’ To Your Friends & Get Lessons

Winter Sports in Lake Tahoe
Skiers at Heavenly Mountain Resort

Out of anything on this list to spend money on it’s lessons. While your best friend says they can teach you, the reality is they’ll probably give you a few words of encouragement and leave you flailing about like a dead fish on a beginner slope. This is why most people give up on the sport. Skip the hassle and reduce the strain on your relationships. Sign yourself up for ski school. In fact, if you’re up here for a few days, think about doing a multi-day package. You’ll save yourself from pain and learn faster!

Beginner Areas At Lake Tahoe Resorts

Now that we know the basics of what you need to do, where should you go skiing or snowboarding if you’re a beginner in Tahoe?  Everywhere! All the ski resorts have dedicated areas specifically for beginners.

Heavenly Mountain Resort – Great Views While Learning

Skiers at Heavenly Mountain Resort Lake Tahoe
Groomed run at Heavenly Mountain Resort

At over 4,800 skiable acres, there’s A LOT of terrain within Heavenly Mountain Resort. For beginners depending on where you’re staying, each access point has some terrain specifically geared towards you. If staying within the casino corridor, you can hop the gondola and gain access to the Big Easy Chair and Tamarack Lodge. You’ll be rewarded with great views of Lake Tahoe as you learn how to ski/snowboard. Another great beginner area is near California Lodge. Similar concept, you take the Gun Barrel Express or scenic Tramway to the higher elevation green zone called Patsy’s. You’ll still get the incredible views of the lake and a gentle slope to get some turns in.

Kirkwood – Take In The Sierra

Kirkwood Mountain Resort Lake Tahoe Groomer Run
Groomed run at Kirkwood Mountain Resort

It is true that Kirkwood is a powder hound’s dream. Big snows and steep slopes, but it’s also home to some incredible beginner skiing terrain. The mountain’s topography naturally divides the area by skill level. Beginners will want to keep towards the bottom of the mountain and head to the Timber Creek Area. The chairlift provides access to wide open groomed runs to learn on. To spice it up, there’s even a gentle gully called Squirrel Ridge that snakes its way down all the way to bottom.

Sierra-at-Tahoe – Great Deals & Fun Vibe

Broadway Run Sierra at Tahoe Resort
Broadway Run at Sierra at Tahoe Resort

Tucked away just west of Echo Summit, this mountain compared to the other two Lake Tahoe resorts has the most relaxed vibe. In addition, Sierra-at-Tahoe really goes all out to cater to beginners with their insane package deals like the Adult Learn To Ride 3-Pak. You can enjoy three days of mountain access, group lessons, and rental equipment for only $125 / day! Similar to Kirkwood, the beginner area has its own lift providing access to the wide open groomer called Broadway. The best part? Once you’re ready to test your mettle, you can ride the big chair to the top and try out the easy cruisin’ run know as Sugar n’ Spice.

Tip: If you do take Sugar n’ Spice, be aware that as a snowbank appears to the left, stay to the middle or right. Hot shots like to bomb this section and may shoot out of the trees.

As Dr. Seuss proclaimed, “Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!” In summary, you might be sore after it all, but you’ll come home with stories to tell and memories that will last a lifetime.

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