North Lake Tahoe, California

High-Stakes Double-Down Riding

By Chris Carnel

The geographic location of Reno (“The Biggest Little City”) at about a 4,500-foot elevation and stuck between mountains and desert, results in plenty of winter turbulence on descent into Reno-Tahoe International Airport. But enjoy it, because it’s part of the deal that creates the great Sierra snowpack in the mountains. Tahoe experiences an average of 300 to 500 inches of snow each season, and the sun shines about 75 percent of the year. All this and the accessible backcountry terrain make the Sierras a filmers’ and riders’ paradise-hence the hefty number of sponsored pros who make their way here from around the world to ride.

North Lake Tahoe is a major player in the birthplace of freestyle snowboarding, and it’s also the moviemaking equivalent of Hollywood. On any day, you may see Shaun White and Dave Seoane at the Deux Gros Nez in Reno eating breakfast and, another night, see the Mack Dawg crew fueling up a grip of generators at the 76 station en-route to the next spot.

Where To Ride

Most visitors fly into Reno or drive over Interstate 80 from the Bay Area. Once you’re in the main town of Truckee, the surrounding resorts are all a short drive away. Truckee is 40 miles east of Reno on I-80 and it’s the hub of North Lake Tahoe as far as general services are concerned. If you want to be closer to the scene, more in the mountains, and even experience some of the coldest lows (temperatures) in the country, this is where you want your base camp.

Classic Tahoe conditions involve sunny mornings leading to wind and clouds in the afternoon, which usually equals pre-storm conditions. By midnight, it’s twenty degrees, dumping, and producing the most favorable conditions the Sierras can offer-a foot of fresh and clear to partly cloudy skies. This is the optimum situation, and it’s not rare. The season lasts from December through May, but to experience the area in its best winter conditions come midwinter, around February or March.

Boreal-Day And Night Park

Boreal is always the first resort in the area to open-if conditions permit, as early as Halloween. It’s located right off of I-80, and it’s the home of the original Jibassic Park where it all began back in the early 90s. Boreal hosts an all-mountain park open from 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. The night-boarding begins at 3:30 p.m., and the Superpipe (cut daily) is just about perfect. After your night session, you can change clothes and go across the parking lot to skate the indoor bowl. Helmets and pads are required, and it’s five bucks to skate and usually open ’til 9:00 p.m.

(Note: Night riding and the skate bowl open in late November to early December and close early April. People drive up all the time early season to find the lights off and the resort closed.)

Distance from Truckee: 8 miles

Cost: $38 adult, $22 adult night

Best for: Jumps and rails

Web site: rideboreal.com; jibassicpark.com

Sugar Bowl-Hardcore Freeriding

If your approach is from Northern California via Sacramento heading east on I-80, Sugar Bowl is actually the first resort exit you hit (exit Soda Springs, and drive back off the exit onto Hwy 40 for about four miles). Sugar Bowl is part of Donner Summit and a freeriding paradise. Get right in the thick of it, and take the Lincoln chair up to the 58 insane chutes (make sure it’s open). Get off the Disney chair and take a short hike up to the East Face on the looker’s left. Traverse past Crows Nest chair, hike up less than twenty minutes, and drop into Strawberry Fields-just watch for tracks where you have to traverse out.

Over the last few years, Sugar Bowl has opened gates into the epic ASI backcountry above and around the train tunnels. Wisely choose the days you venture out, and wear an avalanche beacon, a shovel pack, and have at least two partners. The area can be insane for riding, but equally as dangerous if it’s unstable. Also, check theolden Gate park and Superpipe. Even with tons of new improvements, the resort is discounting lift tickets this year.

Distance from Truckee: 15 miles

Cost: $46-59 (2005/06 prices)

Best for: freeriding, backcountry

Website: sugarbowl.com

Alpine Meadows-Deep Powder

Alpine is a really fun and diverse mountain that offers some of the best freeriding terrain in Tahoe. In the springtime, the Alpine park is one of the best. In the winter, hiking out to the back bowls, Beaver and Estelle, and even (way out) to Wolverine off the Summit chair is epic. You should also try hiking off the Summit chair in the other direction, toward the top of the Alpine Bowl, and dropping into the Keyhole area. Even better still is hitting the lower saddle, which eventually leads to the backside of the mountain, ending up at the Sherwood chair.

Distance from Truckee: 13 miles

Cost: $46-55

Best for: Freeriding, backcountry

Web site: skialpine.com

Squaw Valley-The Best Of Everything

Squaw Valley is Tahoe at its finest-so much terrain with oodles and oodles of variety. KT-22 and Chute 75 are some of the best and steepest resort runs anywhere on the planet. They’re iconic of this area in folklore and legend-think of all the Standard Totally Board movies. Equivalent in fun factor is Cornice II. Granite Chief and Silverado boast killer freeriding terrain with plenty of places to hike. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some pow runs here. Squaw has nightriding as well-it’s only a small portion of the daytime accessible terrain but enjoyable for a reasonably priced lift ticket. When the powder runs dry, you can bet the park and Superpipe are in perfect shape with daily (sometimes twice daily) cutting and grooming. Make it a full day!

Distance from Truckee: 12 miles

Cost: $65 (2005-06 prices)

Best for: Freeriding and park

Web site: squaw.com

Northstar-at-Tahoe-Stay And Ride

This is the infamous land of Snow Park Technologies park design and building (with headquarters posted up in Truckee). Northstar always hosts a great Superpipe and hosts “never before” park terrain. This year, in conjunction with Burton, Northstar is hosting a new experimental park called The Stash. It’s purportedly the weaving of a big-mountain feel with park features. The resort also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including the annual Vans Tahoe Cup and the USASA National Championships. This year, Northstar will host a few Pinball Rally freestyle jams.

Things are being built in epic proportions around the Village at Northstar. Go ice-skating in the rink and hit up Butterbox (a new snowboard-lifestyle specific shop). Breakfast is at the great Earthly Delights coffee and pastry shop that used to be in downtown Truckee-then grab an affordable Big Wave burrito for lunch.

Distance from Truckee: 6 miles

Cost: $63 (2005/06 price)

Best for: The complete snowboard vacation package.

Web site: northstarattahoe.com

Around Town:

Eating:

Make sure to head out to dinner early. Most of the Truckee restaurants are done serving at 9:00 p.m.-yawn.

Pneumatic Diner

A small and unique place upstairs in the Truckee River Lodge, it’s the most original diner in the world, featuring vegetarian and raw dishes. Open from 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.

501 West 1st Street, Reno, (775) 786-8888

The Nugget Diner

Located in the heart of downtown Reno almost directly under the infamous Reno Arch, the diner is like a time warp true to the 50s. It’s famous for the “Awful-Awful” burger, which is a good half-pound patty with so many fries chances are you won’t finish ‘em. This place is classic Reno, and it rocks.

233 North Virginia Street, Reno, (775) 323-0716

Cottonwood Restaurant & Bar

Supposedly, the first ski lift ever in California resides right on this property. The food is off the Richter, and the scene is mellow. Try the Caesar salad for starters-it’s delicious.

Off Brockway Road in Truckee, (530) 587-5711

Jalisco Taqueria

Truckee’s finest and most affordable burrito joint is located across the street from Wild Cherries on Donner Pass Road. You’ll see a lot of snowboarders here after a day on the slopes.

Wild Cherries

Owned by former Olympic skier Kristen Krone, this is a great place to chill after a day on the hill or grab breakfast on the way up. Wi-Fi access? Yes.

11429 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, (530) 582-5602

Balboa Cafà‡

World-class, mid-priced, butt-kick-ass burgers.

The Village at Squaw, (530) 583-5850

Mamasake Sushi

Some of the best Tahoe has to offer in sushi.

The Village at Squaw, (530) 584-0110

Nightlife:

Depending on road conditions, you could hit up Reno, but more likely you’ll be in downtown Truckee or Squaw Valley … or somewhere in between. Packs of riders also head up to Boreal at night for night riding.

Casa Baeza

Known for its margaritas-according to Truckee expert Kellie Wright, “They’re strong, for sure. They’ll get you really drunk.”

10010 Bridge Street, Truckee, (530) 587-2161

Blue Coyote Bar & Grill

Formerly Tahoe Taps, it’s a great place to get your bro on. They also serve food.

10015 Palisades Drive, Truckee, (530) 587-7777

The Pastime Club

Locals, skiers, and more locals-sometimes they cram bands in here, too. Sometimes people fall down.

10096 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, (530) 582-9219

Bar Of America

The staple old-school bar of Truckee-it’s worth a drink just to feel the old flavor vibe.

10042 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, (530) 587-3110

New Oasis

A club out in Sparks that’s the area’s venue for well-known live music, everyone from Alkaline Trio to Death Cab For Cutie and Modest Mouse has played shows here.

2100 Victorian Avenue, Sparks, (775) 359-4020

The Satellite Cocktail Lounge

State-of-the-art lounge that just turned, thankfully, non-smoking. It hosts an 80s night on Thursdays. Friday and Saturdays are usually a guarantee for live music. The Lovemakers have been known to play here unannounced on the lounge’s small stage.

188 California Avenue, Reno, (775) 786-3536

The Auld Dubliner Pub

Stop in for karaoke Tuesdays, and what they call aprà¤s-ski in these skier-type villages. Rumor states that the Dubliner interior was disassembled from a real pub in Ireland and brought over and reassembled.

The Village at Squaw, (530) 584-6041

Sleeping:

There’s plenty of resort lodging available in the Village at Squaw Valley and Northstar-at-Tahoe. Here are some options if you’re trying to hit up a variety of resorts.

Best Western Airport Plaza

If you have a super early flight out or are just too tired to leave the airport after you fly in, Airport Gardens is literally across the street from Reno’s airport and is somewhat reasonable.

1981 Terminal Way, Reno, (775) 348-6370

Best Western Truckee Tahoe Inn

Super close to Northstar off of 267, and serves free breakfast.

11331 Brockway Road, Truckee, 1-800-824-6385

Hampton Inn and Suites

A new hotel near the airport.

11951 State Highway 267, Truckee, (530) 587-1197

Holiday Inn Express

Mid-priced, nice, clean accommodations on the first Truckee exit as you approach from I-80 eastbound.

10527 Cold Stream Road, Truckee, (530) 582-9999

The Tahoe Sands Resort

If you want to be on the beach in the winter and about 25 minutes from Northstar, this is your best bet. The resort sells discounted lift tickets, and a studio is a little over 100 dollars per night in the winter. A one bedroom is about 150 dollars per night.

6610 North Lake Boulevard, Tahoe Vista, (530) 546-2592

Local Shops:

Out Of Bounds

If you get done eating at Super Burrito and realize you need some wax, new bindings, or a jacket, this shop is only a few more blocks heading west on Plumb Lane in Shoppers Square.

235 East Plumb Lane, Reno, (775) 323-7669

Totally Board

Housed in the historic brick building across from Moody’s, TB contains the town’a

Truckee’s finest and most affordable burrito joint is located across the street from Wild Cherries on Donner Pass Road. You’ll see a lot of snowboarders here after a day on the slopes.

Wild Cherries

Owned by former Olympic skier Kristen Krone, this is a great place to chill after a day on the hill or grab breakfast on the way up. Wi-Fi access? Yes.

11429 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, (530) 582-5602

Balboa Cafà‡

World-class, mid-priced, butt-kick-ass burgers.

The Village at Squaw, (530) 583-5850

Mamasake Sushi

Some of the best Tahoe has to offer in sushi.

The Village at Squaw, (530) 584-0110

Nightlife:

Depending on road conditions, you could hit up Reno, but more likely you’ll be in downtown Truckee or Squaw Valley … or somewhere in between. Packs of riders also head up to Boreal at night for night riding.

Casa Baeza

Known for its margaritas-according to Truckee expert Kellie Wright, “They’re strong, for sure. They’ll get you really drunk.”

10010 Bridge Street, Truckee, (530) 587-2161

Blue Coyote Bar & Grill

Formerly Tahoe Taps, it’s a great place to get your bro on. They also serve food.

10015 Palisades Drive, Truckee, (530) 587-7777

The Pastime Club

Locals, skiers, and more locals-sometimes they cram bands in here, too. Sometimes people fall down.

10096 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, (530) 582-9219

Bar Of America

The staple old-school bar of Truckee-it’s worth a drink just to feel the old flavor vibe.

10042 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, (530) 587-3110

New Oasis

A club out in Sparks that’s the area’s venue for well-known live music, everyone from Alkaline Trio to Death Cab For Cutie and Modest Mouse has played shows here.

2100 Victorian Avenue, Sparks, (775) 359-4020

The Satellite Cocktail Lounge

State-of-the-art lounge that just turned, thankfully, non-smoking. It hosts an 80s night on Thursdays. Friday and Saturdays are usually a guarantee for live music. The Lovemakers have been known to play here unannounced on the lounge’s small stage.

188 California Avenue, Reno, (775) 786-3536

The Auld Dubliner Pub

Stop in for karaoke Tuesdays, and what they call aprà¤s-ski in these skier-type villages. Rumor states that the Dubliner interior was disassembled from a real pub in Ireland and brought over and reassembled.

The Village at Squaw, (530) 584-6041

Sleeping:

There’s plenty of resort lodging available in the Village at Squaw Valley and Northstar-at-Tahoe. Here are some options if you’re trying to hit up a variety of resorts.

Best Western Airport Plaza

If you have a super early flight out or are just too tired to leave the airport after you fly in, Airport Gardens is literally across the street from Reno’s airport and is somewhat reasonable.

1981 Terminal Way, Reno, (775) 348-6370

Best Western Truckee Tahoe Inn

Super close to Northstar off of 267, and serves free breakfast.

11331 Brockway Road, Truckee, 1-800-824-6385

Hampton Inn and Suites

A new hotel near the airport.

11951 State Highway 267, Truckee, (530) 587-1197

Holiday Inn Express

Mid-priced, nice, clean accommodations on the first Truckee exit as you approach from I-80 eastbound.

10527 Cold Stream Road, Truckee, (530) 582-9999

The Tahoe Sands Resort

If you want to be on the beach in the winter and about 25 minutes from Northstar, this is your best bet. The resort sells discounted lift tickets, and a studio is a little over 100 dollars per night in the winter. A one bedroom is about 150 dollars per night.

6610 North Lake Boulevard, Tahoe Vista, (530) 546-2592

Local Shops:

Out Of Bounds

If you get done eating at Super Burrito and realize you need some wax, new bindings, or a jacket, this shop is only a few more blocks heading west on Plumb Lane in Shoppers Square.

235 East Plumb Lane, Reno, (775) 323-7669

Totally Board

Housed in the historic brick building across from Moody’s, TB contains the town’s most complete selection of gear. (Note: Moody’s is where Beatle Paul McCartney randomly showed up two winters in a row and jammed onstage with the local band.)

10019 Bridge Street, Truckee, (530) 582-1584

Tait’s Boardshop

Right next to the Truckee River where highway 267 crosses, it has a great selection of hardgoods.

1995 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, (530) 584-6262

Reno Thrift Store Guide

With the shape that our planet’s in, it doesn’t hurt to recycle and re-use. Reno is the land of ruling thrift stores and a few are worth a mention.

Savers-The most popular of thrift stores in Reno is Savers. There’s one in Reno and one in Sparks. Both have a pretty good selection of clothes, appliances, and costumes.

3800 Kietzke Lane, Reno, (775) 284-4350

2350 Oddie Blvd, Sparks, (775) 359-4244

Thrift Depot-Thrift Depot is great if you need a Polaroid camera to document your trip or a vintage leather suitcase.

575 East 4th St, Reno, (775) 786-4499

WARC-WARC is a Reno gem.

201 Keystone Avenue, Reno. (775) 825-1972

570 Gentry Way, Reno, (775) 825-1972

Reno Skate Tip: On those days that it’s raining down in Reno, head over to the recently opened indoor skatepark, Open Ground. Full pads are required, but the number of obstacles and the terrain inside makes it worthy. Otherwise, Reno alone has about seven skateparks scattered throughout the city.

2450 Valley Road, Reno, opengroundpark.com

Chains, Traffic, and General Mountain Driving Tips

It’s always a good idea to check magnifeye.com. This Web site, with highway Webcams, can be a lifesaver and a good measuring stick of what it might be doing up in Truckee, over the Summit near Kingvale, or even at the base of Sugarbowl. It can even judge whether it’s snowing or raining during those bizarre warm storms.

Caltrans will make you put on chains even if it’s just spitting snow-especially on a weekend holiday. But who can blame them when everyone from the Bay Area (and wherever else in flatland country) drives the somewhat small I-80 mountain highway like it’s commuter time on the ten-lane 680 through Walnut Creek. If you’re approaching from the Bay Area, beware of traveling on Fridays or anytime transitioning into a big ski holiday as it’s just traffic hell-Saturday’s are a bit better.

Do yourself a favor and call ahead:

Caltrans Highway info from Nevada: 1-877-NVROADS (1-877-687-6237)

Caltrans Highway info from California: 1-800-427-7623 or (916) 445-7623

own’s most complete selection of gear. (Note: Moody’s is where Beatle Paul McCartney randomly showed up two winters in a row and jammed onstage with the local band.)

10019 Bridge Street, Truckee, (530) 582-1584

Tait’s Boardshop

Right next to the Truckee River where highway 267 crosses, it has a great selection of hardgoods.

1995 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, (530) 584-6262

Reno Thrift Store Guide

With the shape that our planet’s in, it doesn’t hurt to recycle and re-use. Reno is the land of ruling thrift stores and a few are worth a mention.

Savers-The most popular of thrift stores in Reno is Savers. There’s one in Reno and one in Sparks. Both have a pretty good selection of clothes, appliances, and costumes.

3800 Kietzke Lane, Reno, (775) 284-4350

2350 Oddie Blvd, Sparks, (775) 359-4244

Thrift Depot-Thrift Depot is great if you need a Polaroid camera to document your trip or a vintage leather suitcase.

575 East 4th St, Reno, (775) 786-4499

WARC-WARC is a Reno gem.

201 Keystone Avenue, Reno. (775) 825-1972

570 Gentry Way, Reno, (775) 825-1972

Reno Skate Tip: On those days that it’s raining down in Reno, head over to the recently opened indoor skatepark, Open Ground. Full pads are required, but the number of obstacles and the terrain inside makes it worthy. Otherwise, Reno alone has about seven skateparks scattered throughout the city.

2450 Valley Road, Reno, opengroundpark.com

Chains, Traffic, and GGeneral Mountain Driving Tips

It’s always a good idea to check magnifeye.com. This Web site, with highway Webcams, can be a lifesaver and a good measuring stick of what it might be doing up in Truckee, over the Summit near Kingvale, or even at the base of Sugarbowl. It can even judge whether it’s snowing or raining during those bizarre warm storms.

Caltrans will make you put on chains even if it’s just spitting snow-especially on a weekend holiday. But who can blame them when everyone from the Bay Area (and wherever else in flatland country) drives the somewhat small I-80 mountain highway like it’s commuter time on the ten-lane 680 through Walnut Creek. If you’re approaching from the Bay Area, beware of traveling on Fridays or anytime transitioning into a big ski holiday as it’s just traffic hell-Saturday’s are a bit better.

Do yourself a favor and call ahead:

Caltrans Highway info from Nevada: 1-877-NVROADS (1-877-687-6237)

Caltrans Highway info from California: 1-800-427-7623 or (916) 445-7623