Straddling the border of Nevada and California, Lake Tahoe is a winter wonderland with glittery powder, towering snow-kissed evergreens, and a glistening lake that never freezes. Loving the outdoors is a must; skis and snowboards are optional to enjoy Lake Tahoe in Winter. With crazy fun activities like guided snowshoe excursions (with and without cocktails), snowmobile tours, and ice skating, travelers will find plenty of fun with these things to do in Lake Tahoe this winter.
Since it’s an easy drive from major West Coast cities, Lake Tahoe has been a top destination for a winter getaway for decades. Divided into North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe, each offers its own vibe. For the highest concentration of activities and resorts, head to North Lake Tahoe. During the winter, South Lake Tahoe features Heavenly Mountain Resort at its core. It is accessible only from the east side of the lake and from the south.
Top Mountain Resorts in Lake Tahoe
With close to a dozen ski resorts in the area, visiting a ski resort is one of the top things to do in Lake Tahoe. However, non-skiers and snowboarders can pack in the fun without a lift ticket at the larger ski resorts.
This West Lake Tahoe resort is a bucket list ski destination. It hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics, offering 3,600 skiable acres and over 170 runs. For apres, Palisades Tahoe offers XC skiing, guided snowshoeing tours, and an aerial tram for spectacular views of Olympic Valley and Lake Tahoe (especially at sunset).
Heavenly Mountain Resort
Located in South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly offers the highest skiable peak with a lift service up the 10,040 feet to the top. It features 4,800 skiable acres across two states with over 95 runs.
Heavenly features an outdoor ice rink, groomed snow tubing, live entertainment, a theater, and more for apres. Since the resort is partly in Nevada, adults can gamble too.
Northstar California Resort
A West Lake Tahoe favorite for families, NorthStar California offers nearly 3,200 skiable acres and 100 runs with a premier ski and snowboard school. Its outdoor ice rink features live music, fire pits, plus dining and shopping in the area. The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe is on the property and offers the only true ski-in, ski-out property in the Lake Tahoe region.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe
Mt. Rose is usually the first ski resort to open every year thanks to its 8,260 base elevation, the highest base in Lake Tahoe. This North Lake Tahoe is a no-frills resort, so it is lean on an aprés scene.
Mt Rose is the resort for thrill seekers since it boasts double black diamond runs (don’t worry, each features a gate). For families, Mt. Rose offers half-day lessons even on busy days.
Try One of Lake Tahoe’s Smaller Resorts
Smaller resorts turn heads as well, especially for returning visitors. For North Lake Tahoe, Diamond Peak is a favorite with the best lake views. On the west side, Sugar Bowl Resort had ties to Walt Disney in the early days.
Top Places for Snowshoeing in Lake Tahoe
Skiing and boarding aren’t the only ways to explore Lake Tahoe’s snow-covered landscape. Snowshoeing is as easy as walking, and rentals are about $20 daily.
Snowshoeing through a State Park is one of the Things to do in Lake Tahoe. Spooner Lake State Park in Nevada’s North Lake Tahoe area is popular for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park is another one for both sports, closer to Tahoe City on the western shore.
Cross-Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe
Cross-country skiing will get the heart pounding without scary downhills. Groomed tracks are found around Lake Tahoe in national forests, state parks, and cross-country resorts. Lake Tahoe supports both classic cross-country skiing and skate skiing. Another winter sport that is easy on the budget, gear rental shops are located in most towns in Lake Tahoe.
Cross-country skiers should head to Truckee, a historic town on the west side for lessons. Tahoe Donner Cross County Ski Center offers lessons and rental gear nearby. Further out, Royal Gorge is North America’s largest cross-country resort with 92 trails.
Sleigh Rides in Lake Tahoe
For the postcard Lake Tahoe moment, a sleigh ride over the snow is hard to beat. Draft horses pull antique sleighs along the lake at Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park in Incline Village. Located on the North side of the lake, Borges Sleigh Rides offers several horse and sleigh teams, so reservations are nice but not required.
Top Places for Sledding in Lake Tahoe
Most larger ski resorts offer 90-minute snow tubing sessions; Palisades Tahoe even has LED night sledding. For a lesser-known resort, Granlibakken Tahoe Resort is tops on a busy day. For the ultimate DIY snowplay day, National Forests are free. If you didn’t bring your own sled, most Lake Tahoe supermarkets sell cheap sleds.
On the North Side, Mt Rose Meadows features plenty of space for snow play with groomed cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It is also home to Chickadee Ridge, where birds will land on your glove if offered seed or a crushed granola bar.
Best Places to Ice Skate in Lake Tahoe
Since Lake Tahoe doesn’t freeze due to its depth, outdoor ice rinks are the norm. Fun for visitors and residents, rinks offer rental equipment, and sometimes a close-by cafe. Tahoe City Winter Sport Park in Tahoe City and Truckee’s Ice Rink are operated by their Park and Rec. For a glitzy experience, head to a resort. Northstar California Resort and Heavenly Ski Resort feature rinks open to the public.
Top Snowmobile Tours at Lake Tahoe
For travelers who yearn to explore the untouched beauty of the Lake Tahoe Basin, a guided snowmobile tour is the best way to see the backcountry. There are snowmobile outfitters on Lake Tahoe’s West and East Shores.