Opening Day to Bike & Hike at Northstar California

547284_349278815154232_1618896414_nWith temperatures around the basin heating up and the sun slipping behind the mountains later each day, it is no secret – summertime has arrived in Lake Tahoe.  What does that mean besides BBQs, beach days and summer weekend traffic? It means that resorts and vendors throughout the basin will begin launching their summer schedule of activity programs.

A big player in the region did just that today.  Northstar California owned by Vail Resorts starting turning their chairlifts again, celebrating the opening day of their downhill mountain bike park and trail lift access for the summer season.

Northstar California is home to Northern California’s largest mountain bike park offering beginner to advanced cross country and downhill mountain biking trails, bike rentals and repair, lift access throughout the resort and its own Bike Academy.  Whether you are an expert or a novice downhill mountain biker like me, this place has something for you.  The ultimate perk, with lift access you can cut out 1/2 the work by riding the chair lifts up the mountain alongside your bike and focus your time and energy on enjoying the thrill of riding down the mountain instead.

My personal favorite and recommendation for beginners is to sign-up for a lesson with Northstar’s Bike Academy Bike 101 program.  It’s the perfect introduction to both mountain biking as well as the resort terrain teaching you all the basic skills needed, familiarity with the equipment 2013-summer-trail-mapand safety instructions.  The Bike 101 program includes half-day bike rental, safety gear and helmet as well as a lift ticket to enjoy the mountain which you can explore all day after your lesson.  I tried the experience last summer, loved it and looking forward to returning this year.  The staff is phenomenal, well versed in mountain biking techniques as well as knowledge of the mountain.

Also, if you have never ridden a chairlift in the summertime, frankly you’re missing out.  Most associate chairlifts with wintertime activities, but here you can enjoy the gorgeous views of the Sierra Nevada mountains and glimpses of nearby Lake Tahoe all summer long on the hiking trails of Northstar California.  With three main chairlift access open including the Gondola, Tahoe Zephyr Express or Vista Express chairlifts, families and friends can explore the mountainside enjoying scenic views of Lake Tahoe, Martis Valley and the Sierra Crest of in the distance.  Easy lift access, clearly marked trails and parameters of the resort, make it easy for out-of-town families to explore hiking trails safely and with more familiarity than in the open, backcountry of the basin.

Afraid you and your kids might get hooked?  No problem, Northstar California offers competitive season passes packages allowing guests to enjoy access to the biking trails and hiking trails all summer long through September.  Learn more about mountain bike and hiking pass pricing as well as season passes.   Also learn more about the resort’s hours of operations as well as answers to all of your questions about the mountain experience.

Do you enjoy downhill mountain biking and if so, where are your favorite places to ride in Lake Tahoe? Please share your feedback in the comments below.

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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Fore! Golf Season in Lake Tahoe is here

edgewood

This last weekend we celebrated Memorial Day, which officially launches summer in Lake Tahoe. Besides the numerous hiking and water sports activities available in the area, Lake Tahoe boasts dozens of world-championship golf courses for visitors to enjoy.  It’s no secret that here in the high Sierras, your tee shots will drive higher and longer soaring through the high altitude elevation.  Here I am going to share with you a few of my favorite courses to play in Lake Tahoe, from South Lake to North Lake to Truckee, CA.

Edgewood Tahoe is located along the beautiful sandy shores of South Lake Tahoe, minutes from the downtown action of state line.  The course was designed by George Fazio and opened in 1968 and rated by Golf Digest Magazine as one of “America’s Top Golf Courses.”  The course ranges in length from 5567 to 7555 yards and challenges players of all levels.  It also the well-known host of the annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship which draws large celebrity and spectator crowds, both by land and boat, and will be hosted on July 16-21 of this year.

Traveling north around Lake Tahoe you will reach The Golf Courses at Incline Village including  two 18-hole courses, the Championship Course and the Mountain Golf Course.  With two diverse courses, The Golf Courses at Incline Village are designed to suit every golfers style of play.  The Championship courses is a classic Robert Trent Jones Sr. design and offers beautiful, scenic views of Lake Tahoe from afar and challenging terrain.  The Mountain Golf Course offers a scenic mountain terrain, elevation changes and a more affordable price.  There are also a variety of competitive packages available allowing players to experience both courses during their visit to Lake Tahoe.

In the nearby town of Truckee you will find the two premier golf courses in Lake Tahoe – Old Greenwood and The Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing.  Both golf courses are Audubon International Gold Certified Sanctuaries, representing the highest level of environmental commitment which only 16 courses in the world have achieved this level of distinction.  Old Greenwood was rated among Golf Digest’s “America’s Top 100 Greatest Public Courses” in 2011, and The Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing ranked in Golfweek Magazine’s “Top 50 Best New Courses” in 2008.  And, The Golf Academy at Old Greenwood is led by the 2011 NCPGA Teacher of the Year, Keith Lyford as is the most renowned golf academy in the Lake Tahoe basin.

Are you ready to take a swing on your next summer visit to Lake Tahoe?  For a complete list of golf courses available to play in Lake Tahoe visit this Lake Tahoe Activities Guide.

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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Tough Mudder: Recruiting Lake Tahoe

Tough Mudder Lake Tahoe

You wanna be a what? Last year my colleagues and I sat around learning about this event called Tough Mudder which was returning to Lake Tahoe.  We jumped on their website to educate ourselves and instantly discovered we were stepping into unchartered waters.  Images of obstacles with names such as “Braveheart Charge”  “Everest” and oh yes, even “Arctic Enema” came before us.   Guessing others out there are also new to this athletic phenomena and thought I’d share some information I’ve learned.  And why should you care?  Because it’s coming back to Lake Tahoe not just once, but TWICE this year!

Designed by British Special Forces with events worldwide, Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile obstacle courses “to test all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie”.  Ok, so you might be thinking… 10-12 mile obstacle course, piece of cake what’s so hard about that?  Let the names of popular obstacles along the course paint a better picture for you, they include things such as “”Fire Walker”, “Ball Shrinker”, “Electroshock Therapy” (unfortunately, this is what you think) and “Walk the Plank”.  Learn more  about the various “badass” Tough Mudder obstacles on their website.  Basically, this competition has it all from extreme tests of athleticism, team costumes, ragging parties, fierce competition and yes, as its name suggests plenty of mud.

Still can’t picture what this is all about?  Watch this video created by Tough Mudder to learn more:

So why would anyone do this?  It’s all about the teamwork.  Competitors must accomplish every challenge and complete the obstacles as a team.  The goal is to ensure that “no one gets left behind”.  This is my kind of competition.  Not only does this framework result in extraordinary individual accomplishments and team building, but also promotes a more celebratory environment than an individual-style competition.  Before starting each event, all competitors even recite the Tough Mudder Pledge.

Another cool thing about the Tough Mudder competitions is that they support the Wounded Warrior Project which provides assistance to military returning from service.  Tough Mudder participants have raised over $5 million to date towards the Wounded Warrior Project through a variety of ways.  You can even earn individual refunds towards your entry price by raising funds.

Hopefully by now I have convinced you this event is awesome.  Over the last few years, Squaw Valley and Northstar California hosted annual events and it was recently announced that Northstar California will host two events this upcoming year.  Event dates are scheduled as follows:  Saturday, July 13th and Sunday, July 14th and September, 28th and Sunday, 29th.  My advice – recruit a team and register early!  Tickets sell-out, especially on the Saturday events and the tickets increase as dates approach.  Good news is you can catch a  deal for Sunday and Fall events if you are still on the fence (no pun intended). Go register!

Not ready to become a Tough Mudder yourself but want to witness the madness?  Spectator tickets are also available for $20 in advance online or $40 at each event.  So worth it.

Lake Tahoe has always been an extreme adventure mecca and thanks to the recent addition of Tough Mudder to the agenda, it just keeps getting better!  Just another reason Lake Tahoe is the Best Lake in America.  Be sure to swing by Northstar California  to compete or spectate and check out what this whole thing is about.  Either way you are guaranteed some lively entertainment!

Are you tough enough?  Whether you want to participate or have already competed, share with us in the comments your motivations and experience.

If your enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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Spring It On with Season Pass Specials in Lake Tahoe

1009_1469sSpring is officially here and that means a mixture of sunny days with temperatures in the 50’s followed by late season spring storms bringing snow fall to the summits and dustings at Lake level.  Don’t make the common mistake and wait to purchase your season pass when rates are highest in the Fall before the season starts.  Do as the locals do and get your end of season turns in for FREE this year while locking in your season pass for next year at Lake Tahoe ski resorts at the guaranteed lowest prices of the year.  Check out the best season pass deals at Lake Tahoe ski resorts in more detail below!

header_TSP1314_1Squaw & Alpine’s Tahoe Super Pass – Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have announced their end of season 2013-2014 Tahoe Super Pass special that offers tons of specials if you buy your pass before May 7th.  With purchase of the early season pass you will receive perks valued over $2,000 including:  FREE spring skiing and riding beginning on March 31st until the end of the season, friend and family discounted tickets and the guaranteed lowest season pass price to Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadow and Sierra At Tahoe.

Mt. Rose Adult Unlimited & Beginner Passes – Mt. Rose has announced two 2013-2014 spring passes including the Adult Unlimited Pass at $399 which provides unrestricted access to the mountain for the rest of this season plus all of next year’s season with NO blackout dates!  Also, if you are begininger Mt. Rose is ready to teach you!  With a special Beginner Pass for $149.00 which offers lift access to beginner chairs, free group lessons and free rental equipment to guests 11 years+ you will be a pro in no time.  What a deal!

epic-pass-logo2Epic Spring Passes – All three Lake Tahoe Epic 2013-2014 season passes are now on sale so put your deposit down to guarantee the best pricing for next year’s season pass.  Vail Resort’s season passes include the Tahoe Value, Epic Pass or Tahoe Local Pass which offer a variety of mountain access to best suit your needs.  Put your $49 deposit down by April 14th and receive six Buddy Tickets for next season along with 2013 summer hiking access at Northstar California, Heavenly and Kirkwood.  Or, if you pay for your 2013-2014 season pass in full receive one free day of skiing this season as well as the six Buddy Tickets and summer activity mountain access.  Choose which works best for you!

Soda Springs Season Passes – Located near Donner Summit, Soda Springs has also announced its 2013-2014 passes with a few extra specials to go along.  Purchase your 2013-2014 pass by TODAY you will have access for the rest of this season in addition to next year.  Or, put down a $49 deposit before April 14th and you will be guaranteed the lowest price for next year’s season pass.  Child season passes are only $99 and including free tubing and Planet Kids activities.  Remember Soda Spring passes also grant access to Boreal Mountain Ski Resort on select mid-week dates!

In addition to the season pass specials above,  ski resorts in Lake Tahoe are begining to offer  daily lift ticket price specials as the season winds down and mountain access reduces.  Be on the lookout for these specials on ski resort websites.  Lastly, if you are interested in learning more about the ski resorts in Lake Tahoe check out my previous blog post Pick Your Peak.

Are you ready to take advantage of one of these spring season pass specials?  If so, share in the comments below which season pass you want to purchase.

Enjoy learning about Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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Celebrate Easter in Lake Tahoe

eggs-easter-colorful-sweetEaster in Lake Tahoe is a very unpredictable holiday.  During the past three years I’ve been living in Lake Tahoe two were spent skiing on the mountain while last year I was BBQing on the beach with friends soaking up warm springtime weather.  Easter can be a tough holiday for local families and visitors to plan for in Lake Tahoe.  With forecasters predicting tomorrow will be mix of snow showers and rain at lake level while snowing on the summits, it’s best to be prepared for Easter Holiday events both indoors and outdoors.  Here I want to share some of the best Easter Holiday events and activities for your celebration tomorrow!

GET YOUR GOLDEN EGG
While rain and snow may damper Easter Holiday celebrations in other places limiting the Easter Bunny to hide eggs inside family homes, it just makes the Easter egg hunt more exciting in Lake Tahoe as families head to the mountains while searching for golden easter eggs stuffed with specialty prizes.  Most resorts are hosting special  on mountain Easter egg hunts including Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, Alpine Meadows, Northstar California, Diamond Peak, Squaw Valley, Tahoe Donner and Homewood.  Here are a few Easter events in particular I would like to highlight:

IMG_2402All-Mountain Easter Egg Hunt & Kids Easter Egg Hunt at Alpine Meadows – Alpine Meadows adult guests will search the mountain amongst hundreds of hidden eggs for one golden egg containing a Bronze Season Pass in the free Adult Easter Egg Hunt.  The all-day hunt will begin when lifts open at 9 a.m., and last until 4 p.m.  For Kids there will be two separate Easter Egg hunts depending on children’s ages.  Families meet at the Kids Camp Magic Carpet at 10:15 a.m.

Easter Eggstravaganza at Homewood Resort –  Giant Eggs will be hid all over the mountain at Homewood and guests will redeem fun prizes at the North Lodge between 9am-1pm.  Included in the prizes is a Golden Basket with a Season Pass for 2013-2014!  A Mini Egg Hunt for kids will be filled with candy and one lucky mini egg will have a grand mini prize along with visits from the Easter Bunny.

Easter Egg Hunt & PEEPS Diorama Contest at Northstar – Northstar California will host an Easter Egg Hunt in the Village at Northstar starting at 10:30 a.m. with a special appearance from the Easter Bunny.  The Easter Bunny will also travel throughout the mountain hiding golden eggs that will contain a variety of prizes.  The festivities conclude at 4:45 p.m. with a parade through the Village lead by the Easter Bunny and Northstar Ski & Snowboard School mascot Ripperoo.

easter-brunch1LET’S GET DOWN TO BRUNCH
Or, you may be planning to stay inside tomorrow with your family to celebrate and if so Brunch is the only way to go!  Restaurants around Lake Tahoe are hosting decadent brunch buffet’s to satisfy your holiday cravings with all the fixings.  Reservations are recommended, but often restaurants will accept walk-ins but there likely will be a wait so be prepared to be patient.

Easter Brunch Buffet at Jake’s on the Lake – Jake’s on the Lake will be serving an Easter Sunday Brunch Buffet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $29 per adult and $14 per child age 10 and under. Kids may even find a few Easter eggs and adults can indulge at the Bloody Mary bar!

Easter Brunch Buffet at the Resort at Squaw Creek Easter – Cascades Restaurant at the Resort at Squaw Creek will serve an Easter brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults are $45, children are $21.

Easter Brunch at the Lone Eagle Grille – Easter brunch at the Lone Eagle Grille will be served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults are $70, children 5 to 12 are $35, 4 and under are free and there will be live entertainment along with beautiful Lake views!

Share what your favorite way to celebrate Easter is in the comments below!

Enjoy learning about Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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First Tracks, Last Tracks

First Tracks, Last TracksIf you’re like me, you get easily bored with routine even when it comes to your winter adventure.  The great news is that Lake Tahoe offer tons of fun, unique events to ensure that you get the most out of your trip to the mountain.  Here I would like to highlight some local favorites…. First Tracks and Last Tracks!

First Things First
It’s no secret that skiers and snowboarders love the excitement of getting up early, gear laid out, itching to be on the first chair up the mountain to be rewarded by first tracks down the mountain.  This ritual becomes especially coveted on a powder day.  Resorts like Northstar California and Squaw Valley have created special packages to get visitors out on the mountain BEFORE the resorts even open!  Here is a bit more detail on both.

First Tracks, Last TracksFirst Tracks and Breakfast at Northstar California, recommended for advanced skiers and riders, is offered Saturdays throughout the winter season weather and conditions permitting. For the rest of this season the program will be offered the following three Saturdays:  March 9th, March 16th and March 23rd.  Tickets are $80 per person and tours start promptly at 7:30am.  Guests will head to the backside of the mountain for first tracks. By the time the mountain is opened to the public, you will be enjoying an inclusive breakfast at the Zephyr Lodge.

Squaw Valley’s program, Dawn Patrol is available to guest of all ages allowing visitors early access to the resort’s expansive terrain whether it be untouched corduroy or fresh powder depending on the morning.  Tickets range from $12-$29 depending on age and special 50% discounts are available to season pass holders.  Dawn Patrol is also available every Saturday for the rest of March including:  March 9th, March 16th and March 23rd.

Saving the BEST for LastUnknown_sf
Let’s be honest, 7:30am on a Saturday canbe pretty tough to swing after a long week at work or a late Friday night. Another exclusive mountain experience is Last Tracks at Diamond Peak in Incline Village. This package only $29 for a late-day lift ticket, gives skiers and riders two hours of access and an invitation to the last chair up the mountain to the scenic Snowflake Lodge.  Here guests will enjoy breathing views of Lake Tahoe along with wine, beer and appetizers.  Finally, last trackers enjoy a freshly re-groomed trail down the mountain all to themselves.  Now that is my kind of Après Ski Experience!

Last Tracks & Winery Schedule for the remaining 2013 Season:

  • March 7th – SnowFest Celebration Special Event! Geek out in your best costume attire and enjoy Lone Eagle Grille Snacks
  • March 9th – New Belgium Brewery from Colorado
  • March 16th – Peachy Canyon from Paso Robles
  • March 23rd – French versus Spanish Wine Shoot Out
  • March 30th – Trinchero Family of Wines from Napa, Shenandoah Valley & Sonoma
  • April 6th – Rogue Brewery from Oregon
  • April 13th – Constellation Wines

Which would you prefer – First Tracks or Last Tracks?  Vote for one by sharing it in the comments below.  For me personally, it depends on the day.  On powder days, definitely First Tracks but for sunny spring days, I can’t of a better way to end a Saturday than with Last Tracks.

Enjoy learning local tips of Lake Tahoe?  I invite you to follow my blog and at @robinpenning on Twitter to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Pick Your Peak

Did you know that there is more skiable terrain in the Lake Tahoe Basin than in the entire state of Colorado?  In fact, Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Northern California Sierra Nevada region celebrates a total of 23 downhill ski and cross-country resorts for your winter adventure. Now, let’s take a closer look at the top ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe Basin and what makes each unique!

Lake-Tahoe-Ski-Resort-map.mediumthumb

Top Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe

Alpine Meadows – With seven open bowls, 13 chair lifts and 100+ trails this resort is a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike for its diverse and extreme access terrain, great snow conditions and views of Lake Tahoe.  Recently joined with Squaw Valley, visitors now share access to both mountains with any lift ticket or the Tahoe Super Pass.

Heavenly – Views, views and more views!  Enjoy spectacular views of Lake Tahoe from all over this enormous ski resort spreading across both California and Nevada with three access gates, 29 chair lifts and 97 trails.  Begin your day with a ride up the mountain on its signature aerial tram and then enjoy its varied terrain throughout.  Part of Vail Resorts, visitors can enjoy all of the fun and accessiblity of their Epic Pass here!

Kirkwood – Regarded for its remote beauty and breathtaking skyline this resort boasts the highest base elevation and the deepest annual snowfall in Lake Tahoe.  Kirkwood is a favorite amongst locals for its unique terrain, backcountry access, signature lifts such as “The Wall” and remote location.  Kirkwood is also the newest edition to Vail Resort’s Lake Tahoe Epic Pass portfolio.

Mt. Rose – A North Lake Tahoe favorite and the only ski resort offering views of both Lake Tahoe and Reno.  Mt. Rose is the closest ski resort to Reno, a 30-minute drive, making it a favorite of Reno residents and visitors.  Its legendary Chutes offer some of the steepest and longest slopes in North America.

Northstar California – This resort has it all!  With 97 trails, 20 lifts, 3 lodges, tubing, ice-skating, 7 terrain parks, tree-skiing, half-pipe, super pipe, cross-country, telemark and snowshoe center and a vibrant village this resort will make every family member smile.   Look for Olympian Shawn White and visit the only Burton Academy training facility in North America.  And, your Vail Resort’s Epic Pass works here too!

Squaw Valley – A skier’s and rider’s paradise.  Famed host of the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley includes 6 peaks, 3600 acres of terrain, 30 lifts, aerial tram, views of Lake Tahoe and a lively village.  It offers some of the most famous terrain in Lake Tahoe including steeps, bowls and cliffs along with the most extensive offerings of racing events and night skiing terrain.  Squaw Valley celebrates the longest ski season lasting until late spring and even sometimes 4th of July!

images ski run

Can’t choose just one ski resort to visit for the season or on your next trip?  Great news, you don’t have to!  There are fantastic interchangeable lift ticket passes which give you access to the top alpine ski resorts every day of the season such as Ski Tahoe North’s Interchangeable Lift Ticket as well as the Ski Lake Tahoe Six-Pack.  Also, websites like Liftopia are a one-stop shopping for the best daily lift ticket deals at all of the ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe Basin!

Do you have a favorite resort that you like to ski or ride at in Lake Tahoe?  Please share in the comments below which resort is your favorite and why?