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Catch The Drift with articles for skiers and snowboarders by Sugar Bowl Resort.
10 Kid-Friendly Sugar Bowl Tips You Need to Know
Picture this: the classic family ski vacation with snow angels and hot chocolate, where faces are buried behind goggles and neck warmers instead of smartphones and tablets. Well, to be honest, a ski getaway with kids isn’t the easiest vacation to plan, but we think it’s worth it. Here’s your kid-friendly guide to Sugar Bowl, a complete list of tips and tricks to make your family time on the snow memorable.
1. Score a $10 lift ticket for kids 5 and under.
Did you say $10? Yep, at Sugar Bowl, kids 5 and under ski for just $10. Kids 6-12 ski for as low as $59. With ticket prices so affordable, it’s going to be a breakthrough year for your kid’s skiing or riding… without breaking the bank!
2. Nail the timing: door-to-door from San Francisco to Sugar Bowl in just over 3 hours.
We all want less “are we there yet??” If you are traveling with kids to Sugar Bowl on a midwinter weekend, consider driving on i80 during non-peak times– the night before, or extra early the morning of. A little creative scheduling pays off big time.
If you are traveling west on i80, Sugar Bowl is 20 minutes closer, at minimum, than other large resorts in Tahoe.
Since you won’t spend time backed up in traffic on highway 267 or 89, you can wrap up a day of skiing at Sugar Bowl and be home for dinner.
3. Choose the best time of year to ski with kids
The best time to visit is probably going to be when kids aren’t in school. But hey, we promise not to judge if you’re letting your kids play hooky to go skiing! To avoid busier periods and ski with kids in a more relaxed environment, choose midweek/non-holidays whenever possible.
Any month of the winter season can be a great time to ski with kids. Want a preview of the typical conditions we get throughout the season?
4. Get the Kids Outfitted
Warm kids = happy kids, let’s break down all the essentials to keep little fingers and toes warm.
If you forgot something, the Village Lodge and Judah Lodge are both equipped with retail shops. You’ll be able to replace that mitten that got left in the driveway, no problem. If a binding malfunctions or your kid’s foot mysteriously increases in size— it’s that fast, right?— you can head to the rental shop in Judah Lodge for a spare pair of boots, board, skis, or poles.
Want a link to a handy packing checklist?
- Water / wind resistant jacket & pants
- Long underwear
- Fleece midlayer top
5. Know where to park with kids in the car
If you want to get from car to slope with kids as fast as possible, Mt Judah Lodge is the easiest and most convenient place to park. There are three large slopeside parking lots with free parking. Pro tip: If carrying skis across the parking lot doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, use the 10-minute drop-off zone next to the Judah Lodge for easy unloading. If you’ve signed up for ski or ride lessons, you can use the free, upfront ski school parking near the big white tent at Judah. Here’s a handy link.
Alternatively, show your kids the scenic route and take the Village Gondola ride across the Van Norden Meadow and the train tracks. You’ll arrive at the Village Lodge after a 10-minute ride and you can access the resort from there. Just remember, if you need to access the car again, it’s another round trip on the Gondola.
6. Choose the best terrain to ski with kids
- Take it easy: If you parked at Judah, the easiest kid-friendly zone is White Pine. You’ll find short lifts, a moving carpet, and mellow terrain great for the kids to warm up on.
- Send it! If the kids are ready for more adventure, bring them to our new “flow park” off the Judah lift. The flow park is a new kind of terrain park that is full of creative snow features and is accessible to a wide range of skiers and riders.
- Let’s go explore: When the kids are ready to continue exploring the whole mountain, head to the top of the Disney lift and look for the the Disney Traverse. Skiing or riding through the giant snow rollers is always a winner.
7. Skiing with kids is great but… when you need an hour to yourself
We hear you! Lapping the bunny hill all day can be a task when the bigger mountain is calling your name. A half-day group lesson or even a one-hour private lesson can provide just enough time to get your fill. Our certified ski & board instructorslk are professionals at making sure your kids have fun on the slopes. We offer four different levels of lessons to make sure that your kid is matched up with a group appropriate for their skill level. In a kid-specific lesson, your kid will learn new ski/board skills, meet new friends, and give YOU some time to ski and relax on your own.
8. Show the kids a little Disney Magic
We may be hundreds of miles from the closest theme park, but did you know Sugar Bowl comes with it’s own Disney History? Showing your kids these three Disney connections is a surefire way to get them excited to explore the entire resort. Walt Disney was an early investor in Sugar Bowl and his legacy lives throughout the resort, especially Goofy.
- Find our new Goofy statue near the Disney lift for the best skiing selfie ever.
- Watch the 1941 cartoon “The Art of Skiing,” where Goofy goes to Sugar Bowl to learn how to ski. Look for the Village Lodge featured in the cartoon at 2:39.
- Grab a copy of our trail map and scour the trail names for Disney-related characters.
9. Keep h-anger at bay: because even the best powder day of the year won’t make a hungry kid excited to go skiing.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that hungry kids have less fun on the slopes. Plan for success and schedule some midday R&R into your ski day. Here’s our top 3 kid favorites:
- Mac & Cheese Bar at Mid Mountain Lodge
- Sweet sticky BBQ ribs outside on the sundeck Mt Judah Lodge
- Warm homemade Cinnamon Buns on the sundeck at Village Lodge
On a budget? Make sure there’s a Clif Bar in everyone’s pocket for chairlift snack breaks. Brown bag it at the Ratskeller for lunch.
10. Find the Goldilocks of ski destinations: not too big, not too small
Sugar Bowl is the perfect destination for your family ski vacation. You’ll enjoy the small resort feel, while having access to a big variety of terrain. You’ll find plenty of accessible kid-friendly terrain across the resort, but there are plenty of steeps & chutes just a chairlift ride away. Join us for a trip to the mountains that the whole family will enjoy.
Our certified ski & board instructors are professionals at making sure your kids have fun on the slopes. We offer four different levels of lessons to make sure that your kid is matched up with a group appropriate for their skill level. In a kid-specific lesson, your kid will learn new ski/board skills, meet new friends, and give YOU some time to ski and relax on your own.
Escape to Uncrowded
There’s a Better Way
When the first thing you say about your ski weekend in Tahoe is how long you sat in traffic, something is broken. Here at Sugar Bowl, we value providing an uncrowded experience. To fulfill this commitment to our mountain community, we choose to do things a little differently.
We Manage the Crowd, so you Don’t Have To
It’s pretty simple– Each season, we choose a specific number of season passes to sell, and we just stop selling ‘em when we hit that number. On top of that, we also limit lift tickets each day to preserve the on-mountain experience.
What does Limited Sales Mean?
It’s not complicated; by selling a limited amount of season passes and lift tickets, we don’t overcrowd the mountain. Less traffic getting here, less people in line, and less skiers on the mountain. That means more fun for you. Our proudly independent resort has been operating since 1939, and our team cares deeply about continuing our legacy of authentic alpine experience. We believe that requires managing how many skiers and riders come to enjoy our resort, every single day of the season.
Okay, it’s Less Crowded, but is it Affordable?
We invite you to shop around; you’ll find that our lift tickets are more affordable than many resorts in the area. The earlier you buy, the more you save. View the monthly ticket calendar to find deeply discounted lift tickets. Looking for even bigger deals? Take advantage of our monthly 96-Hour Sales, where you can save an extra 10% off already discounted lift tickets. Sign up to be notified when there is a sale coming up.
Authentic Alpine Experience
Your time is valuable, so spend it skiing and riding, because ski trips are too short for traffic (on the roads and the slopes). We’re excited to show you how we do things differently at Sugar Bowl. Remember, tickets are subject to sell out each day, so be sure to purchase in advance.
Purchase your lift tickets online in advance for guaranteed availability and the best rates.
Essential Chairlift How-To’s for Kids
Chairlift Safety for Children under 55″ Tall
Planning for a fun day of skiing or riding with young kids? Awesome, it’s going to be a blast! But first, let’s make sure you know the essentials of chairlift safety. Here at Sugar Bowl, chairlift safety is important for kids of all ages but we have specific guidelines for children under 55” tall. Follow these steps to ensure a safe lift ride:
One adult buddy please!
Let’s start with the basics: ALL children under 55” tall must be accompanied by an adult on the chairlift. Even if you have an advanced little ripper on your hands, they’ll still need an adult buddy to ride the lift with… until they hit the growth spurt jackpot! You’ll find handy measurement signage throughout the resort if you need to double check a child’s height.
Before you’re ready to load the chair, order is important.
As you shuffle through the lift line, make sure you’re in the optimal order for loading the lift. A single child under 55” tall should sit on the lift operator side of the chair next to the adult accompanying them. Said another way, as you’re about to sit on the chair, the child should be lined up in between the adult and the lift operator.
Two children? Have one child sit on either side of the adult.
Pro Tip: while the chairlift ride is a great place for a quick Clif Bar snack, try to make most of your adjustments at the base of the lift before you get in line. It can be tough to juggle gear on the lift; it’s easy to drop a mitten or lose a wrapper from an unzipped pocket.
All Aboard! Let’s Load Up
- Want the lift slowed down for you? Just ask our lift operator.
- There are always two lines on the snow. Stop at the first “wait here” line and await instruction from the lift operator.
- When it’s time to move forward, scoot forward to the second line. Turn and watch the lift approach.
- As the chair arrives, you’ll probably need to give the child a little boost or a full-on lift so they can reach the chair, depending on their height.
- If you need assistance or fall while loading the lift, our lift operators are here to help. We’ll stop/slow the lift and help everyone load up safely.
- The lift operator will let you know that they are assisting with lowering the restraining bar by saying “bar coming down.”
How to Sit on the Chairlift
- Is there a seat white “seat target” on the chair? Make sure the child’s bottom is covering the target
- Make sure the child’s back is all the way back against the back of the chair
- Children should ride the lift facing forward
- Holding the restraint bar is A-okay, but don’t lean forward on the bar.
- Got the wiggles? The chairlift is no place for horseplay, so make sure that the child is sitting (relatively) still.
- Keep the safety bar down until you reach the green, “raise bar” signage at/near the top lift terminal
At the Top
- If a child needs help getting on the lift, chances are they’ll need some assistance hopping off the lift too. Be ready to support the child getting off the seat as you arrive in the top terminal.
- After everyone has unloaded the chair, clear the unloading area as swiftly as possible to make room for the next group behind you. Every Sugar Bowl lift has ample space at the top where you’ll be able to regroup before starting down the hill, so take care to not accidentally clog up the unloading zone!
- If someone falls while unloading, don’t panic, our lift operators will stop or slow the lift to give you extra time to clear the area.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to adhere to our Kids on Lifts Safety Protocols. Together, we can make sure that everyone has a safe day on the slopes. Now that you’re dialed in with chairlift policy, have a fun day with the kids!
Sugar Bowl Mountain Safety
Need some help? In case of emergency call SKI PATROL at (530) 426-6727 (save this contact in your phone) or 9-1-1.
First Aid – lower level of Judah Lodge past Special Tickets; Village Lodge past the Hotel front desk down the corridor from the Gondola terminal.
Ski Patrol block houses – are found at the top of the following lifts: Mt. Disney Express, Mt. Lincoln Express, Jerome Hill Express, Mt. Judah Express and Summit Chairlift.
Mountain Safety Patrol – You’ll see Mountain Safety personnel in their bright yellow jackets throughout the day in slow zones and high traffic areas helping guests and controlling the flow of traffic.
Our instructors are certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and have the highest level of teaching expertise.
Bonus: Everyone in the lesson can access the chairlifts faster by using the express line bypassing the general line.
Banked Slalom Returns!
We are so excited to bring back the Banked Slalom on February 26 for the first time since 2019! In a few short weeks, our racers will be zipping through the banked turns and rollers of the best snake-run course in Tahoe. The course is currently under construction by our terrain park crew. Check out the interview below with Terrain Park Manager Parker Gokey for an insider’s look into the event.
If you want to sign up, don’t delay. The event is already more than halfway sold out with less than 60 spots remaining. We have multiple categories for men’s and women’s skiers, snowboarders, and adaptive athletes.
Interview with Banked Slalom Designer Parker Gokey
Q: Have you already started building the course?
“Yes, for the Banked Slalom this year we started the build early so we’ll have a great course in place for the event on February 26.
Q: Where is the course this year?
“The course will be River Run Gully which is in-between Golden Gate and Coldstream trails with the finish line poking back onto Golden gate above and in-between Judah and Jerome Lifts visible from the tents and Judah Deck areas.”
Q: What kind of design are you building for the banked slalom course this year?
“The top of the course will be flowy with some big deep turns at the top and into the middle section. As you enter into River Run Gully in the trees, the turns will get a little tighter all the way to the end. The course pops back out onto Golden Gate to the finish line.”
Q: How do you build the course?
“We use a snowcat to build the very top and bottom of the course. In the middle section, we can do some cat work but most of the work will be done by hand. We will also ride and ride and ride the course so we know the turns are good.”
Q: What’s cool about this banked slalom event?
“This event is special in a lot of ways but most importantly all the proceeds go directly to the High Fives Foundation. It will be a great honor to host them and race your friends in support of this great organization.”
Q: Any words of advice to the banked slalom participants out there?
“Skies, snowboarders, and adaptive riders are all welcome and we have some awesome prizes! So bust out the wax and let’s get racing!”
- Registration: 7:30am-8:30am – Judah Lodge
- Racer’s Meeting & course inspection: 9:45am – top of River Run Gully
- Race Start: 11:00am
- Party Train lap to the after-party: 2:30pm
- After-Party with live music: 2pm-4:30pm
- Awards: 3:00pm – Judah Deck.
Spring Fling 3-Pack
Getting fed up with your current committed mountain relationship?
Perhaps you’re tired of waiting in long lift lines, getting stuck in traffic, and riding down crowded runs… We heard you! Have a fling at Sugar Bowl this spring with the Spring Fling 3 Pack. Come out to soak up some sunny days and spring vibes on Donner Summit. This 3-day pack is $299 for all ages and grants you access to any three days of skiing/riding from March 1, 2022 until the season concludes in mid-April, now including Saturdays! Buy the pack now and choose your dates later.
What’s great about spring skiing and riding at Sugar Bowl?
Spring skiing is already amazing thanks to the beautiful California weather we are treated to but here are a few reasons it’s even better at ‘The Bowl’.
1. Spring Events
On snow events like the Pond Skim, Pop Bars and more happen throughout the spring when the weather is more predictable. Plus we are Rockin’ The Bowl with live music on the Judah and Disney decks each Saturday & Sunday. (Keep in mind, 3-packs aren’t valid on Saturdays but après is always allowed!)
2. Corn Snow
This elusive snow is actually very desirable and often falls in the “hero snow” category, but it can be hard to time. It is generally found in the spring when freeze/melt cycles affect the snow. Large grains of snow freeze together overnight, then they loosen as the sun warms them during the day. Corn refers to the snow during the time window when it has become soft and forgiving, but not too wet and slushy. In other words, it’s the “Goldilocks” of snow—not too hard, not too soft, but just right.
In spring what you do on the snow is just as important as what occurs after ski (après). Both the Disney and Judah Decks are perfectly situated to enjoy a cold beverage (Palisades Pale Ale anyone), soak up the soak and enjoy some tunes (See #1).
Hot Tip: Free Pack Flex “Pack Flex” — a $60 value — is automatically included, allowing you to shift your reserved visit dates if your plans change. Pack Flex does not mean a refund, just flexible dates until the end of the season.
If you’re tired of waiting in long lift lines and riding down crowded runs, have a fling at Sugar Bowl this spring!
Big mountain terrain, with a small mountain vibe: Take 3-days to experience the alternative. We’ll show you how we do things differently at Sugar Bowl. But be warned, after a 3-day honeymoon on our uncrowded slopes, you might not want to leave.
Hot Tip: Direct to Lift Once you print out your lift ticket for the first time, plan to reuse your media card each time, when you login to your account and choose your dates, your lift ticket media card will automatically be reloaded. That means you can roll into the parking lot and go direct to lift without stopping at the ticket window.
Q: How do I use a 3-pack?
Log into your account on at sugarbowl.com and purchase a 3-Pack through our online store You’ll be able to logon later to book dates if you don’t want to choose them immediately. On your account you can see how many days you have left to use.
Q: How much does it cost?
The Spring Fling 3-pack costs $299, or about $99 per day.
Q: When is it valid?
Sunday – Friday, March 1 until at least April 10.
Q: Is there any fine print?
- 3 Packs are non-transferrable. All 3 days must be used by the 3 Pack holder on separate dates
- No refunds or credits for unused days.
- Valid through the end of the 2021/22 season. No dates will be rolled over for any reason.
- Dates must be booked online by 11:59pm the day prior to arrival.
- Dates may be moved to another valid date within the 2021/22 season.
- Date changes must occur before 11:59pm the day prior to arrival.
- Any unused dates expire after April 11.
- If the season is extended, the ability to select dates for the 3 Pack will be extended too.
Purchase your lift tickets online in advance for guaranteed availability and the best rates.
Five Ways to Avoid Crowds in Tahoe
It’s no secret, Tahoe is a popular place on winter weekends. Traffic can get jammed and lines can grow long. But if you choose Sugar Bowl and follow our five favorite tips, you can make lines on the mountain instead of waiting in them! (Hint: #5 is our favorite.)
1. Don’t Drive Farther on I-80 than you have to.
The the closer you get to Lake Tahoe, the more congested the roads get. Sugar Bowl’s exit (174 at Soda Springs) is the first ski area exit off of I-80 when driving up from Sacramento and Bay Area communities. You’ll be taking your first Sugar Bowl chairlift ride while others might still be stuck in a traffic jam farther down the road. And since you’ll skip that same traffic jam when your day is done, you can be home for dinner!
2. Nail the Timing
Let’s talk about days and hours. If you want a ski & ride experience that’s as quiet and relaxed as possible, you’ve come to the right place. Even on a peak weekend, we preserve the skiing and riding experience at Sugar Bowl by not overcrowding the resort.
Here are some ways to optimize your timing even more:
- Visit midweek. Of course, midweek days – especially Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays – are the least popular days to ski or ride. You’ll often score non-existent lift lines on Fridays and Mondays, too, so if you can extend or shift your weekend by a day… you might even get lonely out there.
- Get an early start. Our early birds who catch the lifts at the crack of 9:00 am are often rewarded with short lines until everyone else gets themselves together an hour later. But don’t kid yourself about the amount of time it takes to get on the road. Early birds are booting up in the parking lot at 8:30 am at the latest, and they’ve already defrosted their windshields and eaten their breakfasts. Set your alarm!
- Start when others leave. Alternatively, you can opt for an afternoon start. When most skiers and riders get “lunch legs” at noon and head home, you’ll be fresh and ready to go. Perks of the 12:00 to 3:00 pm ski day? You’re lined up perfectly to enjoy our legendary après. Sugar Bowl hosts Rockin’ the Bowl every Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 pm on both the Judah and Village sundecks, so wrap up your ski day right with live music and your beverage of choice.
3. Really, Really Get Out of Dodge
If you’re up for an adventure, here are three ways to separate yourself from the pack:
- Hike for turns. Try some hike-to inbounds terrain like Crow’s Peak or Roller Pass.
- Extend your ski/ride day. Get your heart pumping with a lap or two of uphill travel outside of normal operating hours. Uphill travel is open from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm, as conditions allow (and you’ll need a touring set up with skins.)
- Head up and out. Take advantage of Sugar Bowl’s open boundary policy and plan a day of backcountry skiing/riding. Avalanche training and safety equipment is recommended for any form of backcountry travel, so be sure to inquire about training with your preferred guide service. We recommend ASI (Alpine Skills International), headquartered near Sugar Bowl on Donner Summit.
4. Alpine Lodge > Alpine Start
Choose to spend the night a snowball’s throw from the lift you plan to ride in the morning. Don’t spend your morning driving to Tahoe with the I-80 crowd. The Hotel at Sugar Bowl is located in the heart of Tahoe’s only snowbound village. Wake up slopeside, grab a breakfast burrito from the Nob Hill cafe, and still have time to nab first chair.
5. Choose a Resort that Manages the Crowds, so you Don’t Have To
Sugar Bowl follows a simple, yet radical, rule. Each season, we choose a specific number of season passes to sell, and we just stop selling ‘em when we hit that number. On top of that, we also limit lift tickets each day to preserve the on-mountain experience.
Less traffic getting here, less people in line, and less skiers on the mountain. That means more fun for you. Our proudly independent resort has been operating since 1939, and our team cares deeply about continuing our legacy of authentic alpine experience. We believe that requires managing how many skiers and riders come to enjoy our resort, every single day of the season.
Bonus Time-Saving Tips:
Closest Parking for Ski & Board School
If you are signed up for a group or private Ski & Board School lesson, we offer free priority parking directly in front of the big white tent located near the Judah Lodge. You’ll be steps away from the check-in desk for your lesson.
Reload & Go Direct to Lift
Save your ticket! If you decide to ski/ride another day, you can login to your sugarbowl.com account and purchase online. Choose to “reload your existing ticket” and you’ll be ready to go straight to the lifts next time you visit Sugar Bowl, no stop at the ticket windows needed.
Beat the crowds and come see how we do things differently at Sugar Bowl. Next time you visit Tahoe, you’ll be making lines on the mountain, not waiting in them.
Purchase your lift tickets online in advance for guaranteed availability and the best rates.
2022 Poker Run
This January 22, 2022, join us for a family-friendly game of poker—on snow! The poker run is simple to participate in and it’s a fun way to explore the mountain. Just ski or ride to at least five Poker stations we’ll have set up around the mountain and take a picture of yourself at each one. Then head to the lodge to pick up a card for each station you stopped at. The person who has the best poker hand of cards is the winner! No problem if you don’t know the game, we’ll help you choose your best hand.
Have fun while supporting a good cause
All proceeds from the event benefit Excellence in Education, in support of students and teachers in the Truckee-Tahoe school district. Register in advance online for $20… or $15 for kids 12 and under. First 100 sign-ups receive a custom deck of Sugar Bowl Poker Run cards. Day-of registration is $25.
Stick around for the after-party at Judah Lodge with awards and live music by Jelly Bread. A $1000 grand prize plus tons of raffle prizes are up for grabs!
3 Important Reminders if you Plan to Participate
- On Saturday Jan 22, from 9-11am, come by the registration tent at Judah Lodge. You will need to sign a liability form and get a wristband. No wristband = no prizes (and no fun). Remember cash for the raffle. See full schedule below.
- You will need a valid Sugar Bowl lift ticket or season pass to play. Lift tickets must be purchased in advance and are subject to sell out.
- You will need a smartphone or digital camera to document that you went to each station. Take a selfie at each station to prove you were there. Photo must include: your face AND the numbered poker chip.
- 9-11am Registration Tent: Course Overview
- 10am-2pm Ski or Ride around to Poker Chip Stations, take selfies to prove you were there!
- 12-2pm Return to registration and dealer will deal your hand
- 1-4pm After Party & Live Music by Jelly Bread
- 2:30pm Awards & HUGE raffle
How do I play poker?
- Don’t worry about it, just go to the Poker Chip Stations, take a selfie with each one, and we can help you select your best hand at the end.
How do we know where to go?
- Look at the Poker Chip Station map at check-in, we have provided trail maps and sharpies so you can mark down the locations.
What do the Poker Chip Stations look like?
- Look for a giant Poker Run Chip mounted on a bamboo pole. Take a selfie at each station so you can prove you were there!
How long will the checkpoints be on the mountain?
- Check points will be available from 10AM – 2PM.
Do we have to go to every location?
- No you do not, however your chances of playing a good hand increase if you do!
Is this a race?
- No, although check in to play your hand will end promptly at 2:30PM.
Where are the Joker’s hidden?
- Follow us on Instagram and look for our Stories!
What do I do after I visit 5 or more stations and I’ve taken a selfie to prove I was there?
- Come back to registration at the Judah Lodge to be dealt your hand. Check-in will be from 1:00pm – 2:30pm.
How many cards can I get?
- Depending on how many stations you visit, you can get up to 7 cards. The minimum number of stations you need to visit is 5. Remember to take a selfie each time to prove you were there.
Can we trade cards with another player?
- No way! You will be dealt all your cards at once back at the registration tent, so you’d have to be a real card shark to pull a switcheroo.
What happens in a tie?
- The two people who tie will pull 5 cards from a deck and play their best hand.
What are the prizes?
- $1000 Grand Prize. This will happen at 2:30PM at the Judah Lodge. Our top 3 winners will receive cash plus great prizes from our sponsors, Totally Board, Silver Legacy Casino, Giro, RMU Truckee, Deschutes Brewery, and HitchFire.
Current Passholder Perks & Details
The information below pertains to 2021/22 season passholders only. Information about perks & details for 2022/23 passholders can be found at sugarbowl.com/seasonpass.
I’m a Midweek/Slightly Restricted Passholder, what are my blackout dates?
In general, slightly restricted passes have a few blackout days between Christmas and New Year’s Day and during long holiday weekends like Presidents’ Day weekend and Martin Luther King weekend. Midweek passholders have Saturdays and Sundays restricted in addition. See the specific dates on the Existing Passholder Info page.
What if I want to ski or ride on one of my blackout days?
You qualify for discounted lift tickets on your blackout days. Visit the Existing Passholder Info page for details on how to purchase. Thanks to the installation of RFID gates, Midweek and Slightly Restricted passholders will now be able to go direct-to-lift with the purchase of a blackout date lift ticket. Advance purchase online is required – at least one day in advance. Once purchased, the blackout day lift ticket will be loaded onto your existing season pass card and you can go direct-to-lift on your designated ski/ride day.
How many Friends and Family Tickets do I have?
As a passholder, you receive an allotment of 50% off tickets to share with your friends & family. These vary by pass type and are detailed here. As a reminder, these tickets are subject to sell-out and could be challenging to secure for peak days. You will need to purchase these tickets 1+ day in advance.
How do I redeem them?
To access your Friends & Family tickets, log in to your account on the online store. Different pass types qualify for different amounts of tickets, so check your account to see how many you have. For a step-by-step guide on how to redeem these tickets, visit the Existing Passholder Info page.
What’s the discount for a friends and family ticket?
Guests will get 50% off a full-priced ticket, not off any discounted online rates available.
Do you offer insurance for friends and family tickets or regular lift tickets?
Yes, you can purchase Trip Flex to make your tickets refundable. Lift tickets are non-changeable and non-refundable, however during the check-out process, you may elect to add-on Trip Flex to any lift ticket for only $20. By adding Trip Flex to your lift ticket, you will make it refundable and you may request a refund for your date up until 11:59PM PST on the date of your scheduled arrival.
What discounts do I get on food and retail at the resort?
With your season pass, you can save 15% on retail, food, tuning and repair, and weekday private lessons. Visit the Existing Passholder Info page for the specifics of how your passholder discount can be applied. Please note, the passholder must be present and show their season pass to receive the discount. Discounts above may not be combined with any other offers.
Can I upgrade my pass from a midweek or slightly restricted pass to an unlimited pass?
No, sorry. Since season passes are sold-out, we are no longer offering upgrades.
How can I check to see if Old 40 is open for easy access to the mountain?
Old 40 is the best shortcut from Truckee to Sugar Bowl. If you want to know the status of Old 40 this winter, text “Old40” to 855-835-5599 and we’ll send you a message anytime Old 40 opens or closes.
Can I visit other resorts with my Sugar Bowl season pass?
Yes! We have partnered with several resorts of similar size and quality of Sugar Bowl including new partnerships. See our partner resorts on the Existing Passholder Info page.
How do I contact customer service about a question/problem with my pass?
If you have already reviewed the Existing Passholder Info page for your answer and need additional assistance, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. During the busy winter season, we receive a large volume of requests, so please allow a few days of response time.
We pride ourselves on consistently offering an uncrowded experience – pandemic or not – and we believe that a limit on pass sales is a responsible approach while there is still some uncertainty about restrictions and policies that could impact winter operations. Expect season pass quantities to be limited and sell out!
Operational Changes for This Season
Our focus is offering a seven-day/week lift service, maximizing open terrain, and providing a memorable experience. By reducing the footprint of our operation, we can provide the same level of service you have come to expect in the venues that remain open. Below is a list of operational changes that could potentially impact your experience during the upcoming holiday period.
What you will experience this winter:
Subject to change based on staffing and business levels
Lift Ticket Windows
- Minimum one-day advance purchase for all lift tickets.
- Open Daily: Village Tickets: 8:00am – 5:00pm, Highway: 8:00am – 1:00pm, Judah Tickets: 8:00am – 5:00pm
- Judah Special Tickets will not be open.
- Judah & Village Rentals will be closed for the season. Sugar Bowl will not offer equipment rentals and encourage you to rent at a shop in your local community.
- Lesson participants and parents can get rentals at Judah Kids with advanced booking of their lesson programs.
- The Finishline Tuning & Repair is closed for the season.
Ski & Board School
- Advance sales only. Minimum two-day advance booking required for all lesson programs.
- Guests should check-in at Judah Kids, open 8:00am – 5:00pm.
- Village Kids will be closed for the season.
- Village Ski & Sports will be open daily from 8:00am – 5:oopm
- Judad Ski & Sports is closed at this time.
Food & Beverage
- The Dining Room will be closed for the season.
- The Belt Room Bar will be open with various operating hours:
- Thursday: Food 11am to 5pm. Bar closes at 5pm.
- Friday and Saturday: Food 11am to 8pm. Bar closes at 9pm.
- Sunday and Monday: Food 11am to 5pm. Bar closes at 5pm.
- Tuesday and Wednesday: Bar service only 10am to 5pm.
- Judah Café breakfast will only offer cold grab ‘n go. Nob Hill Café will provide hot breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays, plus Monday 1/17 of MLK weekend. Nob Hill Café will offer cold grab ‘n go Monday-Friday. Both locations will offer hot food and grab ‘n go for lunch.
- Breakfast daily, 7:30am – 10:30am.
- Lunch daily, Hot Food – 11am – 2pm, Cold Grab ‘N Go – 2pm -3pm.
- Sierra Vista Bar, daily 10am – 4:30pm.
- Mid Mountain Café, Open Friday- Sunday & Holidays, 10am – 3pm.
- Village Espresso will be closed for the season.
After January 3rd, the hotel will only be open for Friday & Saturday night bookings plus the MLK holiday and Ski/Skate Week. We are now accepting reservations at sugarbowl.com/hotel.
- The Gondola will be open daily with flucating hours.
- Monday – Thursday: 7am – 7pm
- Friday & Saturday: 7am – midnight
- Summit Chair is closed for the season.
- Crow’s Peak Lift will be open Weekends and Holiday when staffing levels allow.
- Other lifts will operate on their traditional schedule.
- Summit Station & Café, Open daily 8am – 5pm.
- Trail passes purchased online; 1-day advance purchase required.
- Rentals and Lessons, 2-day advance purchase required, Open daily 8am – 5pm
- XC Access from Village.
- Rentals and Private Lessons available for Villagers or Hotel guests.
- Mon – Friday: by appointment only from Village Kids.
- Sat – Sun & Hol: 8am – 5pm.
- Rentals and Private Lessons available for Villagers or Hotel guests.
As you can tell, we had to make some very difficult choices, and none were taken lightly. We chose to sacrifice areas, such as Rentals, that would allow us to redeploy team members to essential operations. If staffing levels improve, we hope to add operations back, adjust hours and get back to normal.
Do Your Snow Dance
We are running a fun contest to see all the funny rituals people do to make it snow. You can enter by posting an Instagram story of what you do and tagging us @sugarbowlresort and #makeitsnow. Our three favorites, posted by December 1, will win an exclusive Sugar Bowl belt from Arcade, a New Era hat and more.
Trains & Donner Summit History
Driving by History
When we’re cruising up Old 40 from Donner Lake to Sugar Bowl, sometimes we forget to pay attention to all the history we’re driving past. You’ve probably noticed the horizontal stripe of snowsheds set into the landscape BUT do you know the story behind these train tunnels?
Completing the Transcontinental Railroad
More than 150 years ago, the train tunnels were constructed by thousands of Chinese laborers. The challenging puzzle piece completed a crucial section of the Transcontinental Railroad. This feat of engineering involved drilling through miles of solid granite and building huge walls from the excavated rock. Most of this dangerous work was completed by hand.
While the pioneers of the infamous Donner Party are often remembered in Tahoe’s history, far fewer realize these railroad tunnels were engineered by Chinese immigrants who endured two big Sierra winters— even bigger than the ‘16-17 season. Not only did the tunnel builders avoid the same fate as the Donner Party, they succeeded in producing one of our nation’s most impressive infrastructure achievements.
Want more information about the train tunnels?
Check out this article (with gorgeous photos) by SF Gate.
Read more about Donner Summit history from the The Donner Summit Historical Society.
P.S. Since you’re into trains…
We’ve got another little known train fact for you. There used to be a ski train that skiers could take directly to Sugar Bowl. How cool is that?
This particular photograph was used in the 1930’s as an advertisement for the Southern Pacific railroad’s “Snowball Specials” which ran from the Bay Area all the way to Truckee. The trains would depart from Oakland at midnight and were equipped with all the comforts a skier might need. Of course, there was a well-stocked bar car so travelers could party through the night. There was even a “Ski Hut” that sold socks and mittens and offered professional rental equipment fittings. Arriving at Sugar Bowl early the next morning, skier could enjoy the mountain for the day, returning exhausted on the train that evening. Just sayin’… who else wants to bring back the ski train!?
What to Wear Skiing & Snowboarding
Let’s Get Comfortable
Dialing in your outerwear and gear will help you have a great day on the slopes. Here is some insight on how you can prepare for your best day possible. Forget something? Stop by one of our retail stores at the Judah Lodge or the Village Lodge. We have just about everything you might need.
Our California winters run the full spectrum of Sierra weather. Conditions at Sugar Bowl range from blizzard days with gale-force winds to sunny spring T-shirt weather. Be prepared to dress for success in a variety of different weather scenarios.
Start with the basics: a wind & water resistant jacket and pants. As with all ski gear, there’s a wide range of price/quality in outerwear. You can kit yourself out with brand name Gore Tex, or there are plenty of budget friendly options out there. Some retailers even rent soft goods, so you don’t have to buy a full ski kit to get started.
Pro Outerwear Tip
The water resistant pants you choose should have a wide enough cuff to fit over your boot. This will prevent snow from getting into your boots. Try to choose jackets and pants with thigh/underarm vents if possible to help regulate your body temperature.
The Beauty Within: Layers!
Next, make a plan for your layers underneath. Non-cotton, sweat-wicking pieces of clothing will help keep you dry and comfortable. If it’s a sunny day and temps are above freezing, you may choose to simply go with a light pair of long underwear or yoga pants underneath your ski jacket and pants. If it’s a cloudy day or temps are below freezing, you may want to add additional layers, like a fleece or wool sweater.
Pro Layering Tip
if you are bundling up, try to choose some upper body layers that don’t all have hoods. Stacking too many hoods might make you feel like you’re in a straight jacket once you zip everything up!
Fingers and Toes
Your socks should follow the same rules as your layers— no cotton. If possible, choose a pair of ski-specific socks. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to double up socks, it doesn’t help.
How can I keep my feet from getting cold?
Start with a high-quality pair of ski-specific socks. Look for a non-cotton, wicking pair of socks that fit slim to your foot without wrinkling or bunching. Next, if you’re wearing ski boots, you can unbuckle your boots as you walk across the parking lot or every time you ride lifts. This will help get the blood flowing through your feet while you aren’t using your boots for downhill performance. Just remember to rebuckle before you take your next run.
While you probably don’t need to run out and buy a new pair of gloves just for skiing or riding, here are a couple considerations. It can be helpful to choose a glove with a synthetic exterior, like nylon, that has some kind of a water resistant layer. Choosing a glove with some insulation will help you stay warm in cold, wet conditions. Ski & ride-specific gloves will often have abrasion-resistant patches on the palm and fingertips for durability.
Pro Gloves Tip
It can be helpful to stash an extra pair of gloves in the car, even if they aren’t the ones you plan to ski in. If you have to put chains on before arriving at the mountain, you won’t want to get your gloves sopping wet before you even start your day. It can be nice to switch gloves midday or before your après activity.
Get your Head in the Game
Let’s protect your noggin! First, we always recommend a helmet. If you don’t want to purchase one, many retailers have helmets for rent. If you are taking a ski or board lesson at Sugar Bowl, we’ll include a complementary helmet rental.
Next, given our weather extremes in Tahoe, we highly recommend goggles over sunglasses. If it’s snowing, sunnies just don’t cut it. If it’s a bluebird day, the sun will be reflecting off the snow and you’ll want eye protection from all angles. Getting a sunburn on your eyeball is not a good look.
The third element you should plan for is a balaclava or neck gaiter. Depending on the temps, you may want a light stretchy neck gaiter for light sun and wind protection. If it’s really cold, you may choose a fleece neck warmer. Our go-to choice is typically the light stretchy neck gaiter. If it gets wet, it’s really easy to have an extra one stashed in your jacket (they are inexpensive and fold up really small!)
Pro-tip: How should my helmet fit?
Your helmet should be snug but not so tight that you can feel pressure on the sides of your head. A good test is to rock your head side-to-side / yes-and-no. If your helmet sloshes around, it’s too loose. If it’s giving you a headache, too tight. There are many different helmet types to accommodate different shaped heads. A good rule of thumb is to use a helmet that is 5 or less years old.
How to Properly Wear your RFID Ticket
Seems simple right? Buy your ticket online, use the QR code to redeem it at a kiosk, then pop it in your jacket pocket… You’d be surprised how many people get stuck in the lift line because they’ve done it wrong! Here’s a couple things to remember (in additional to zipping your pocket up tight!)
- Choose a pocket on the left side of your jacket.
- Your ticket rides solo, not in your wallet or with a phone.
- Don’t punch a hole in your ticket
- Essentials for the other pockets: sunscreen, lip balm, medicine if needed, and a Cliff Bar or other light snack.
5 Exercises for Skiing & Riding
Want to know how the pros are getting ready for ski season? Check out this 5-part preseason exercise series with Jamey Conley, Director of Performance at Sugar Bowl Academy. Jamey shows us five ways to prepare the key muscles, or “primary movers” that you’ll use skiing and riding this season– think knees, thighs, glutes and core. This series of exercises are simple to do at home and they don’t require any specialized equipment.
A couple benefits to preseason training include:
- Building overall strength and endurance
- Preventing injury
- Being a little less exhausted on the first powder day of the season
A little background on Jamey…
Jamey has a BS in Athletic Training from Springfield College, where he played on the Men’s Lacrosse Team. He is a Certified Athletic Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist with experience working in collegiate and professional sports settings, as well as in the private setting working with middle school, high school, collegiate, and professional athletes. Prior to joining SBSTA, Jamey was a Performance Coach for Altis Performance and for U.S. Ski & Snowboard High Performance.
Exercise 1: The Classic Squat
- Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart (Slightly wider is okay, but avoid trending too wide)
- Get tall through the top of your head and keep your back straight
- As you descend, your goal should be to descend straight downward
- Keep your feet flat on the ground- you should feel weight in your heels all the way to your big toe.
- Make sure your knees are tracking straight over shins
Exercise 2: Lateral Lunge
- Similar to the squat, remember to stay tall in your upper body with a straight back
- From standing, keep one foot anchored while stepping the other foot out to the side.
- Try to hit a 90 degree angle between your hip and your knee
- Drive from the inside edge of the foot
- Lateral Lunges are an important movement especially for skiing. When you are making a big arcing turn with speed, you’re using the same lateral movement as this lunge. Lateral lunges also help us train the muscles that absorb impacts on the hill. Stability prevents injury.
Exercise 3: Single Leg Squat
- Stand facing away from a stable surface (like a coffee table, chair, or bench)
- Shift your weight onto the foot of the leg you’re going to be squatting towards. Slide the other foot forward and lift it off the floor.
- Keeping your upper body tall, squat straight down to tap the bench and be sure to keep your knee tracking straight over your toes.
- This is a great exercise for building stability in the knee joint and preventing injury.
Exercise 4: Dead Bug
- Lay with a flat back on the floor and bring your arms and legs up to 90 degrees (like an upside down table.)
- Take turns extending an opposite arm and leg outwards.
- Keep your back flat to the floor and remember to take deep breaths.
- Building a strong core is essential for being able to control our turns.
Exercise 5: Squat Jumps
- Get tall and set up like you would for a squat.
- Get low and bring your arms down towards your sides (your arms will go where ever your hips go.)
- Explode up to the ceiling and bring your arms up overhead.
- When absorbing the landing, don’t stop stiffly or drop all the way to the floor, try to stop somewhere right in the middle.
- Jumping exercises help build explosive strength in our legs.
While Sugar Bowl Ski Team alumni have gone on to become members of the U.S. Ski Team and to compete at the NCAA Division I level, SBST’s primary objective is to provide a fun environment in which kids learn to love the sport of skiing. They emphasize character development through the challenges faced here on Donner Summit.
Uphill Travel Inbounds at Sugar Bowl
So you want to take the hard way up, huh? You’ve come to the right place! Here at Sugar Bowl, we’re excited to offer uphill travel on three designated routes. Most of our uphillers are here for one of two reasons, either to access the backcountry or to get a great workout. Whatever your reason for skipping the lift, we’re excited to host splitboarders and ski tourers at Sugar Bowl.
That said, the uphill scene at Sugar Bowl is no free-for-all. Follow the uphill guidelines to make sure that you have a safe uphill experience and the community can keep enjoying these privileges.
Early morning workout
If you’re here to work out before the work day, plan to arrive at Sugar Bowl with skins on between 6-7am. We’re giddy just thinking about the combination of crisp corduroy, the sunrise, and a thermos of coffee at the top. If you’re up for a challenge, it’s possible to skin from the Judah Parking Lot to the summit of Lincoln and ski/ride back in 50 minutes. You’ve still got a whole hour to get to the office if you’re a 9-5er.
If you’re more of an end-of-the-day adventurer, our uphill hours stretch through the entire day all the way to 7pm. When the sunset is hovering around 5pm in the shortest days of winter, you’re primed for an epic Sierra sunset (but you’ll want to have a headlamp in your pocket.) The afternoon uphill experience pairs well with a visit to the Belt Room afterwards.
Sugar Bowl has an open boundary policy. Please be mindful of the backcountry access gates and do not exit through the gates if they are marked as closed. If you plan on traveling in the backcountry, you’ll want to equip yourself with a beacon, shovel, probe, and a base level of understanding of how to travel avalanche terrain. A 3-day AIARE 1 avalanche course is a great place to start.
Want to learn to Uphill?
There are a variety of local guide services in North Lake Tahoe that teach uphill and backcountry skills. Sugar Bowl partners with Alpine Skills International, who offers a handy one-day Intro to Backcountry course.
The Basic Rules of Uphill:
- A lift ticket or season pass is required to travel uphill inbounds.
- Review and sign the Uphill Use Policy before traveling uphill.
- Travel is allowed between 6am-7pm, but always check the website to make sure uphill travel is open. (Rule of thumb, if it’s really storming, we’ll probably close uphill travel… always check!)
- Use designated uphill travel routes only, stick to the edges of the trail and cross the slope only where directed. See descriptions below.
- Expect to encounter on-snow vehicles like snowmobiles and snowcats, etc. Plan to yield… Are you really in that much of a hurry?
- Sorry, no dogs permitted. But you can try cross country skiing in Van Norden Meadow with your favorite furball.
A Note about Safety from Patrol:
Be aware of oncoming traffic. We close uphill when visibility becomes a safety issue, basically during weather events. Always check the Sugar Bowl website to see what the current status of uphill is. And lastly, follow the designated uphill routes.”Courtney Meyerhotlz. Sugar Bowl Ski Patrol Director
Mt. Disney 7,943′
~1,000 vertical feet of climbing from the Judah Parking Lot
Ascent & Descent Routes (listed from bottom, up): Disney Return, to Disney Traverse, to Disney Meadow, to Disney Traverse (the easiest way down).
Mt. Lincoln 8,369′
~1,400′ vertical feet of climbing from the Judah Parking Lot
Ascent & Descent Routes (listed from bottom, up): Union Street, to Silver Belt Run Out, to Cat Walk (Do not ascent straight up Silver Belt Run Out, stay to the left and utilize Cat Walk to avoid downhill traffic), to Henderson’s Bowl, to California Street, to Crowley’s Traverse (the easiest way down).
Mt. Judah 8,245′
~1,300 vertical feet of climbing from the Judah Parking Lot
Lower: Ascent & Descent Routes (listed from bottom, up): Season passholders may ascend starting at Lower Coldstream, to Tunnel 41, to Buena Vista. (Non-ticketed, non-passholder guests will end from the SnoPark parking at the top of Donner Summit. Enter the resort boundary by crossing Pacific Crest Trail and up Tunnel 41, to Buena Vista).
Upper: Ascent & Descent Routes (listed from bottom, up): Buena Vista to Tunnel.
More Details to keep in mind
- Uphill travel is not permitted inbounds outside of the normal operating season (don’t try to sneak in during early November, we’ll ask you to turn around!)
- If you’ve gotten this far you should know better but… uphill gear is required. Don’t try to walk uphill, no snowshoes, and you must have skis or a split board with metal edges to ascend. If you are looking for snowshoeing, check out Royal Gorge.
- Parking: you’ll most likely want to park in the Judah Lot if you are accessing the Lincoln or Disney uphill tracks.
Remember, be an uphill travel steward. Offering this program to our Sugar Bowl community requires the cooperation (and the goodwill) of many departments including patrol, grooming, lift maintenance, snow removal, parking and more. Ignoring the rules is dangerous and will make it impossible for us to continue to offer uphill travel. Whatever you do out there, don’t be the clown to jeopardize uphill travel for the entire community!
Visit our uphill status page for details. For daily uphill status call (530) 426-6775.
What’s the Best Time of Year to Visit?
Any month of the winter season can be a great time to ski or ride at Sugar Bowl. Here’s a little preview of the typical conditions we get throughout the season.
- Choose midweek/non-holidays if possible to take advantage of a more relaxed environment.
- If you want to ski & ride as much powder as possible this season, sign up for the powder planner email. We’ll email you when there’s a storm on the horizon so you can plan your trip.
Late-November through early-December
Every year is different, but sometimes early-season operations involve limited terrain until we get enough snow to open up additional areas. As more and more terrain opens for the season, skiers and rider go wild with stoke. After a long summer, we’re just excited to be back at it!
Events to look out for: Opening Day Celebration, Toys 4 Tots drive, Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, Royal Gorge Full Moon Snowshoe Tour
The holidays are typically our busiest time of the season— for good reason! Spending the holidays at Sugar Bowl is a great way to enjoy your time with friends and family. Let us show you what happens when you mix great skiing & riding with holiday cheer.
Events to look out for: Santa on the Slopes, Wine & Shop
January, February, and early March
Typically our snowiest & coldest times of year. These months are your best chance to score the “authentic winter experience.” i.e. sweet powder skiing. If you want to optimize your powder turns this season, sign up for the powder planner email. We’re always watching the weather and we’ll alert you when there is an upcoming storm so you can plan accordingly.
Events to look out for: Mac & Cheese Festival, Poker Run, Wine & Shop, Demo Days, Banked Slalom, Mardi Gras
Late-March & April
The springtime ski scene at Sugar Bowl is all about leaving your jacket in the car and seeking out great corn skiing in the warm California sun. With softer, more forgiving snow, it’s a great time to progress, whether that means learning a new trick in the park or trying skiing/riding for the first time. You can expect spirited après on the sundecks outside of both lodges. Driving to and from the mountains is typically simpler (but storms still do happen!) Look for late-season lift ticket specials in April.
Events to look out for: Mini-Pipe Meltdown, Tiki Pond Skim
More tools to help you plan your trip
Use these handy links to:
Sugar Bowl’s Six Sweetest Photo Spots
If you want to capture great memories on the mountain, don’t miss these great photo opportunities.
We gotta say, while the summit of Sugar Bowl is spectacular, pretty much everyone gets off the chair at the top of Mt Lincoln, pulls out their smartphone, and poses for a group photo. Yeah, we’re guilty too. Here’s the thing, it’s a great shot but it’s time to branch out. Behold: Our selection of 6 alternative photo locations you may not have thought of, curated by Sugar Bowl’s own professional photo team.
Whether you’re a pro photog with an official shot list or smartphone camera hero, use these insider spots for-the-win. With a little creativity and framing, your camera roll is going to be filled with the sweetest memories of Sugar Bowl.
1. Best Shot of the Palisades (without actually skiing them!)
Head to the top of the Christmas Tree then out along Ridge Run and get the view facing back towards the STEEP east face of Disney and Palisades. It will give you the impression of being surrounded by giant peaks.
2. Best get-the-whole-picture shot
Head to the edge of the gondola parking lot (on top of the parking garage). You’ll see just about everything from here: Judah, Lincoln, Disney and Crow’s. Hello holiday card family portrait!
3. Capture Sugar Bowl History in the Background
From the modern day Disney lift or while skiing/riding down, you can spy a tower off to the right from the first chairlift in California still standing.
4. Best hike-to shot
Roller Pass may be inbounds, but it feels like a world away. Our “best hike-to” shot is located in the saddle between Lincoln and Judah. You can access it most easily by riding up Lincoln and skiing down Crowley’s Traverse. Turn off at the obvious big elbow in the run, in the flat zone after the headwall.
A little bonus history for you, back in the era of the pioneers, Roller Pass is where the pioneers “rolled” their covered wagons over the pass on their journey westward. Just think about that if you get tired hiking.
5. Cleanest corduroy
There are two important tricks to nailing this one: Show up for first chair and make sure the terrain you pick to ski is east facing (so your shot will be in the light even when the sun is low in the sky.) The early morning light is magical off of East Face via Disney (make sure your skier model can handle it!) and the view won’t disappoint either.
6. Best Pow shot
Nothing beats a powder shot from the top of Silver Belt. It’s high elevation which means the it’s going to receive the most and highest quality snowfall. It’s got plenty of dramatic jagged rocks for snow to pile up on top of, which pretty much guarantees your shot is going to be insta-worthy.
Bonus Photo Spot
For the best shot en route to Sugar Bowl, head up Old 40 to catch a view of Donner Lake from the Rainbow Bridge. There’s a handy parking area here. Text “Old40” to 855-835-5599 to be notified every time the road opens or closes.
P.S. we hope you still took a photo at the top of Lincoln. It’s amazing up there!
Sugar Bowl Parking Guide
Sugar Bowl has a variety of ways to park and enjoy the mountain including free lots with first-come-first-serve parking, a 10-minute drop-off zone, and reserved parking options. Remember to carpool when possible.
Park at the Mt Judah Lodge
- Slopeside parking, most convenient option for chairlift access
- Free parking in all three parking lots around Judah Lodge
- First-come-first serve basis
On weekends and holidays, a free shuttles circulates the Judah parking lot to bring skiers and riders directly to the base area.
Judah Lodge: Mt Judah Lodge, Sugar Bowl Rd, Truckee, CA 96161
Judah Drop-Off Zone: Free 10 min Parking
Sugar Bowl guests are welcome to use the Judah drop-off zone to unload belongings and equipment. Drive through the Judah Lot to the roundabout near Judah Lodge and look for drop-off zone signage. Please do not leave your vehicle unattended and plan to limit your usage to 10 minutes or less.
Judah Lodge Preferred Parking: Sold Out
All preferred parking passes for the 2021/22 season have been sold. We do not anticipate making any additional parking passes available.
Judah Kids Ski School Parking
There is limited first-come-first-serve parking for ski school participants at the Judah Kids Building. Use the upper parking lot at Judah to access, it will be on your left as you drive into the Judah Lot.
Park at Village Access Gondola Parking Lot
- 10-minute gondola ride from parking lot to Village Lodge & chairlift access
- Free parking in our smaller, secondary parking lot
- First-come-first serve basis
Village Gondola Parking Lot: 58370 Donner Summit Rd, Norden, CA 95724
Village Gondola Lot for Hotel & Village Guest Parking
Hotel and Village guests have access to the covered indoor parking at the base of the gondola. After parking in the garage, head upstairs to board the Gondola, and you will arrive inside The Hotel in just a few minutes. Please note, we do not offer overnight parking in our Judah base area parking lots nor adjacent to The Hotel, so we highly encourage taking the Village Gondola during your stay.
Limited Overnight Parking
There is a small amount of overnight parking available for guests and employees located near the Village Gondola Parking Lot on Old 40. Please do not attempt to park overnight in the main lot. The overnight lot is located east of the gondola on the south side of the road. Look for a small parking lot that runs along the gondola-side of the road.
Please note, there is no overnight parking, including RVs, in the main Judah lot or the main Village Gondola parking lot due to snow removal concerns.
What Level Ski Lesson is Right for Me?
Our ski lessons are offered in FOUR fantastic levels so you can drop in with a group that’s tailored to your skill level.
- Level 1 (first time skiing)
- Level 2 (beginner)
- Level 3 (intermediate)
- Level 4 (advanced)
Benefits to signing up for the right level ski lesson include:
- The content of the lesson will be catered to your current abilities
- You’ll be learning in a group with skiers of a similar level
- You’ll be taught by an instructor best suited to teach your level
Take a few moments to read through this handy breakdown to ensure you have chosen your level correctly. You’ll be set up for a great ski lesson at Sugar Bowl.
Level 1: I’m a First Time Skier
Green Circle Runs
Q: Have you ever skied before?
No? You are a Level 1 skier. Pretty simple, there is no need to read further until you return for more lessons on your path to becoming a lifetime skier/rider.
Yes? If you have skied before in the past few years, and you already know how to make a wedge turn, consider exploring Level 2 lessons instead.
More about Level 1
Booking a Level 1 lesson with one of our certified ski instructors will get you started in the right direction. The progress you can make with an hour of ski instruction can replace many days of figuring it out on your own. You’ll cover how ski equipment functions and learn foundational skills like turning and stopping. A Learn to Ski Package is the best way to get started and includes rentals, a lesson, and a lift ticket.
Level 2: I’ve skied before and I’m all about the wedge turn
Green Circle Runs
Q: Can you stop and change direction using a wedge?
Q: Do you use a wedge at any time during a turn?
Q: Do you prefer skiing green runs?
Q: Can you ride a chairlift?
If the skier above sounds like you, Level 2 is a great next lesson for you. If you are already transitioning to parallel turns, move ahead to Level 3.
More about Level 2
Mastering the wedge turn (otherwise known as the “pizza”) is a great first step towards learning to ski. You’ll be able to stop, turn, and generally get to where you need to go on the mountain. As your control and balance improves, you’ll be ready to start learning “parallel turns” and gain the skills to ski more advanced terrain in Level 3
Level 3: Sometimes I Can Make Parallel Turns
Blue Square Runs+
Q: Can you comfortably link parallel turns on blue runs?
Q: Are you starting to work up to skiing some easy black runs?
Q: Can you ski with poles?
If you have transitioned from wedge turns to parallel turns and you are starting to move from blue terrain to black terrain, keep progressing with a Level 3 lesson.
More about Level 3
If you’re skiing with parallel turns some or most of the time, you’ve made it into Level 3. You should feel confident on blue square runs and want to start mixing in some easier black diamond terrain. It’s okay if your happy place is still blue runs, but hopefully you are starting to feel that if you took your time, you would be confident controlling your skis on more advanced terrain.
Level 4: I’m an Advanced Skier ready to fine tune my skills
Black Diamond Runs+
Q: Can you ski a variety of conditions? Groomed/ungroomed/bumps etc.
Q: Can you make dynamic turns skiing in parallel the whole time?
Q: Are you confident skiing black and double black runs? chutes, steeps, or bumps?
If you are confident making parallel turns in a variety of conditions in a range of terrain, Level 4 can provide helpful insight into taking your skiing to the next level.
More about Level 4
Don’t settle once you’ve transitioned from an intermediate to an advanced skier. Sure, you may be able to ski the whole mountain comfortably, but can you do it with style? Skiing is a lifelong pursuit and Level 4 will help you fine tune your skills, break out of bad habits, and have you on your way to becoming an expert skier.
Director of Mountain Operations: Greg Bretz
Join us in welcoming our new Director of Mountain Operations Greg Bretz. Greg just started at Sugar Bowl this summer but his ski industry experience already spans more than 25 years between stints at Mammoth and Doppelmayr.
Greg’s illustrious career in the ski industry began by chance in 1996, while he was backpacking through the southern Sierra with his young son. While passing through Mammoth, a friend mentioned that there was a job opening for a welder at the mountain. Greg applied and the detour became permanent. He raised his son quite literally on the mountain, who would grow up to become an Olympic halfpipe rider in the 2014 games in Sochi.
From the moment he stepped into his first ski area job, Greg dedicated himself to mastering just about every behind-the-scenes skill that makes any mountain run. We are so excited to add Greg’s expertise and passion to our team. If you’re keen to get to know Greg a little better, check out the interview below:
Q: Can you start by introducing yourself?
“Hi I’m Greg Bret, I’m the Director of Mountain Operations at Sugar Bowl. I’ve been in the ski business since ’96. I’ve worked at Mammoth and Doppelmeyer and I’ve ended up here at Sugar Bowl this summer.”
Q: What’s your approach to managing a mountain?
“I’m kind of a hands-on manager. I love to get out there and work. I’d never ask anybody to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”
Q: What work needs to get done this summer before the snow flies?
“Each lift has state requirements that we have to meet– so there’s line work, motor room work, grip work. Each lift takes about 2,000 man hours of lift maintenance and we try to get it done by November 1. Currently, we’re about to start a big job on the Judah lift and we’re also in the middle of servicing the drive motor on Lincoln.
Q: Can you give us a play-by-play of your current project on Lincoln?
Each year we plan specific maintenance on different drive motors that are on our lifts. This year we did the drive motor on Lincoln. We brought in a crane to remove the motor then we sent it down to a rebuilder in Modesto. When we get it back we’ll put it back in with a crane and load test the lift to make sure everything is working properly and safely.
We’re doing this in the off-season because it would get a little tougher, to say the least, if something were to go wrong in the middle of the ski season. It can take about 3 weeks to rebuild, so we do this planned maintenance to make sure the motor doesn’t fail in the middle of the season.”
Q: What’s the hardest part of your job?
“I’m in charge of planning the day’s events for everybody. I work across a lot of departments– vehicle maintenance, snowmaking, trail crew, lift maintenance, and patrol. During the summer months there are several projects around the mountain that need to be completed, like the weather station at the top of Lincoln and RFID gates over at Royal Gorge. It’s a challenge to plan a schedule that keeps everyone busy and makes sure that our projects get done. The hardest part of the job is tying it all together.”
Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“I’m new to the mountain manger world, mostly I’ve been the Director of Lift Operations and I started as a technician, so I think this year is all about getting everything together. Between plowing the snow, clearing the parking lots, grooming, opening the lifts, and avalanche control, it takes a lot to get the mountain open. I’m excited to get that all rolling and see how well we can do. When everything comes together and the product is perfect for the guest, that’s the most rewarding part of the job.”
Q: What do you love about working in the ski & ride industry?
“Well, the nice thing is, in the positions I’ve had, you pretty much get to ski every day. The opportunity for my son to grow up snowboarding was huge. We had a great time when he was a little kid and he went on to a career in competitive snowboarding, eventually competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. If I wasn’t in the ski industry, and mountain wasn’t his babysitter, that would have never happened.”
Q: What’s special about working at Sugar Bowl?
“Being with Dopplemeyer, I’ve done a lot of work at Sugar Bowl over the years and gotten to know the people and the terrain. It’s an incredible mountain with a great atmosphere. Compared to a lot of other resorts in the area, it has a more laid back vibe and doesn’t feel so crowded. I love being a part of the management team and trying to make the experience better for our guests every day.”
Purchase your lift tickets online in advance for guaranteed availability and the best rates.
How To Make the Most of a Short Ski Trip
Your Guide to 48 Fabulous Hours at Sugar Bowl
Use these tips to maximize fun, even if your time in the mountains is at a minimum. With a little research and some proper planning, you can get a lot done in a weekend. Between the easy highway access, uncrowded slopes, and authentic alpine vibe, Sugar Bowl Resort is the perfect spot for a quick ski getaway in Tahoe.
Drive at Non-Peak Times:
If you want to travel as efficiently as possible, plan your drive time well outside of peak traffic hours 3pm-6pm. If you are traveling east on i80 and aiming for a Friday evening arrival, consider leaving extra early midday or pushing the trip into the late evening. If Saturday morning is your target, break out the extra big coffee thermos for an alpine start and try to hit the road before dawn. Sugar Bowl is generally WAY less crowded than other large resorts in Tahoe BUT that doesn’t mean the highway won’t be busy if you’re traveling on a weekend. If you must travel at peak times on the weekend, don’t worry, Sugar Bowl is only 3 miles off the highway and you won’t be contending with the bulk of the traffic that is closer to Lake Tahoe.
Winter driving tips: plan around the weather and prep your vehicle. Have chains on board (and make sure you know how to install them) or choose a vehicle with snow tires and 4-wheel drive if possible.
Friday Night Arrival:
Where to stay: There are 2 convenient options for staying close to Sugar Bowl. If you want to be as close as possible to skiing, choose to stay slopeside at The Hotel or in a nearby vacation rental. If you prefer to stay in Truckee to be closer to the nightlife, no big deal, just hop on i80 going west and you can typically make it from Truckee to Sugar Bowl in under 25 minutes.
9am: Saturday Ski Day:
Now that you’ve unpacked your gear and gotten your bearings, let the fun begin!
Where to ski:
First let’s start with a trail map.
- Looking for easy green runs? Try White Pine near the Judah Lodge and work your way up to the Jerome Hill lift.
- Comfortable on moderate blues & blacks? Rahlves Run off of Lincoln is a classic. You’ll get to experience the tallest summit at Sugar Bowl and there’s a moderate way back down to the base.
- All about challenging black runs? Tick off the East Face of Disney or the 58 off of Lincoln.
Two important tips:
- If you need a lift ticket, remember to purchase it at least a day in advance. Keep in mind that we sell a limited amount of lift tickets every day, so plan ahead if you want guaranteed availability.
- Early birds get… good skiing: We groom our runs overnight, so showing up at or before 9am is usually the best way to catch good snow conditions.
11am: Coffee Break at Village Lodge
After a couple solid hours of skiing and riding, treat yourself to an artisan coffee and pastry at Village Espresso in the Village Lodge. You’ll be surprised to find an exceptional third-wave coffee shop nestled right into the heart of our historic Village Lodge. Temple Coffee Roasters out of Sacramento adds some serious panache to the standard ski resort coffee offering… but hey, if you want to keep it simple with a cup of drip, don’t worry, we’ve got that too.
We always find that a little caffeine perks up our tired legs for a few more hours of skiing or riding. After a good midday break, you’ll be ready to finish out day 1 on the slopes strong.
2pm: Day 1 Après
At Sugar Bowl, we maintain that the skiing and riding “lifestyle” is just as important as the actual sport itself. And that lifestyle…we’ll it’s all about Après! Once the afternoon rolls around, we head down to the Belt Room in the Village Lodge. Try one of our famous Bloody Mary’s or order up some classic American fare to top off any great day. If it’s sunny, and it often is, the expansive deck in front of the Belt Room is the place to be found with your beverage of choice in hand.
Check our calendar to see if there are events or live music happening that day.
Evening: Post-skiing Day 1
Staying in on the summit? Join us for an evening in the Dining Room at Village Lodge for the ultimate union of delicious food and incredible ambiance. Our Dining Room defines fine dining with a view: Bay Area-inspired California cuisine in our classic high-alpine lodge, complete with an oversized wood-burning fireplace.
Heading into Town? What to Eat in Truckee:
- Try Moody’s or the Cottonwood for upscale dining
- Best Pies for pizza
- Casa Baeza for Mexican
- Alibi for craft beers and pub food
What to See in Truckee:
- Downtown Truckee: go for a stroll through the charming downtown strip. Truckee is a historic railroad town, if you’re lucky, you’ll see a great big train rumbling through the heart of downtown.
- Walk the Truckee River via the Legacy Trail on the outskirts of town.
- Bundle up and watch the sunset from the east end of Donner Lake.
- If you’re up for a drive, you can typically get to Lake Tahoe in about 40 minutes from Sugar Bowl.
Day 2: Another day on the slopes
Maybe you want to rack up as many hot laps as you can before heading home… Or maybe you’re ready to mix it up? If you’re skiing the resort, you already know the drill, but if you’re ready to branch out on Day 2, here are some of our favorite Sunday activities:
Try cross country skiing at Royal Gorge.
Did you know that Sugar Bowl operates the largest cross country ski resort in North America? Explore the Van Norden Meadow and catch an incredible view of the terrain you were downhill skiing just the day before. Royal Gorge encompasses more than 6,000 acres and features 92 trails for classic cross-country skiing, skate skiing, and snowshoeing. Trails are appropriate for guests of all ages and ability levels and rentals and lessons are available daily. Plan to purchase at least a day in advance if you need rentals, a lesson, or a day ticket.
P.S. If you are traveling with your furry friend, a $5 dog pass grants you access to over 30km of dog-friendly trails.
Up for a day of backcountry skiing?
Unlike most resorts in the Tahoe region, Sugar Bowl, in conjunction with the USFS, maintains an open boundary policy for backcountry skiing and riding. If you’re an experienced backcountry user with avalanche training and proper safety gear, the world is your oyster- there is excellent backcountry terrain to be found off of Lincoln, Judah, and Crows. If you’re an inexperienced backcountry user or if you’d prefer to travel under the guidance of a mountain professional, there are numerous professional mountain guide services that operate in Tahoe. Hire a guide to take you up the resort lifts and out beyond the boundary of Sugar Bowl to explore the backcountry. More about our backcountry policy here.
Day 2: Last Stop before you hit the road
Stop by one of our retail stores for some keepsake shopping. We launched an all-new logo wear catalog this winter and we know you’ll want to bring something home with you.
Make it happen:
Now that you’ve got a basic weekend itinerary, it’s time to make a plan and customize our ideas to fit your style. Even if you have limited time at Sugar Bowl this winter, be sure to make your time in the mountains count. How many days are you going to ski this season? Set a goal and see if you can hit it. We can’t wait to see you on the slopes.
Best Outdoors Wedding at Sugar Bowl: 10 Ways
1. Easy access to hiking, mountain biking, & climbing.
Location, location, location! Donner Summit is any adventurer’s dream. From your base camp, you can climb world-class granite cliffs, hike a section of the famous Pacific Crest Trail, and mountain bike the Donner Lake Rim Trail with panoramic views of the surrounding Sierra.
2. Pre-wedding tip: Enjoy our signature “Lake Mary Day” to maximize outdoor family time the day before your wedding.
While adventure sports aren’t within everyone’s wheelhouse, a day of outdoor fun at our private lake is accessible for all. The day before your wedding, plan to paddle, swim, and connect with your guests in a stress-free setting. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy custom catering from our Lake Mary restaurant. If spending the day at a beautiful alpine lake can’t calm your pre-wedding jitters, what will?
3. Best wedding theme ever: Authentic Alpine Experience.
Our resort has been in operation since 1939, so you’ll nail a vibe that captures Old Tahoe charm with some European alpine flair mixed in. Capitalize on the cool ski area vibe because your guests are in for a mountain-top party like no other. You may want to warn them: stilettos not recommended.
4. Dancing under the stars, swoon!
If summertime weather has you wanting to spend every possible moment outside, we’re with you. Take advantage of the amazing Tahoe weather May-September and plan your whole party to be outdoors: ceremony, cocktail hour & reception. The deck of our Village Lodge is the perfect place to throw a raging outdoor dance party. Of course, as a backup, you’ll have the charming Belt Room Bar, the Lounge with its oversized stone fireplace, or the lovely Lake Mary cabin. We’ve got our fingers crossed for a perfect warm day & cool night for your big event.
5. Ride a chairlift
Incorporating chairlift transport into your wedding day makes limo travel feel a little basic, doesn’t it? Your guests will be giddy (and others probably a little nervous) about the prospect of hopping on a lift and soaring to the summit of Disney at 7,953’. Reaching the summit, you’ll be surrounded by expansive views of the Sierra from Van Norden Meadow to Castle Peak. Even your “afraid-of-heights” guests will agree the adventure was worth it.
6. Adventurers gotta eat!
If you’re leaning towards a Tahoe wedding, we’re sure you’re planning some fun mountain adventures to entertain your guests (and yourself!). With all these fun-filled and eventful days, your crew is going to work up an appetite. Sugar Bowl’s catering department delivers. Under the skillful guidance of French-trained executive chef Mark May and the masterful Chef Able, our catering is fresh and delicious. We pride ourselves in having the range to accommodate any mountain event, elevated or casual.
7. Catch a Sierra sunset unlike any other
As the daylight fades, the Sierras light up. High alpine sunsets in our mountain landscape are a sight to behold. As your wedding day transitions to the after party, the scenery won’t disappoint. It can’t hurt to have a little extra “glow” on your big day.
8. Beautiful presentations integrate incredible scenery into your wedding
Every scene of your wedding at Sugar Bowl is complete with a stunning backdrop. Our wedding planners are experts at crafting each space so it’s both functional for your event and still highlights the natural beauty of our landscape.
Let us design these spaces for you:
- A simple and elegant ceremony on the lawn surrounded by towering pine trees.
- A show-stopper cocktail hour on the summit accessed via chairlift.
- A lively base area where you’ll dine & dance under the stars.
If you want to plan an unforgettable event, start with a spectacular mountain landscape and we’ll take care of the rest!
9. Find some peace and quiet in the mountains
The best thing about a Sugar Bowl wedding is how private the venue feels. After our last day of the ski season each spring, our resort closes to the public each summer, so you can be sure that your group is the only wedding party on site. If you’re after a laidback mountain vibe with plenty of peace and quiet, look no further.
10. Base camp for your closest friends and family
Hosting an event at Sugar Bowl grants you exclusive use of the entire venue, including bar, lounge, dining room, decks and lawn for the whole weekend. Basically you’ve organized a mini summer camp with the people that matter to you most. We know this event is important, but let’s make sure it’s really, really FUN.
Start Planning. Send an email to email@example.com or call (530) 426-6769 to speak with a Wedding Specialist at Sugar Bowl.
Real-Time Information Hub
Welcome to the Real-time Information Hub, a collection for our favorite tips, tricks, and handy links to help you stay connected with what’s happening at Sugar Bowl Resort. If knowing information before everyone else is your thing, you’ve come to the right place! Bookmark/follow/download these tools for quick access to this crucial information. Stay in the loop and have your best possible day on the slopes.
Weather & Road Conditions
Knowing the weather and road conditions will help you know what to expect when traveling to the resort.
Sign up for the Powder Planner Email
- When we see a storm on the horizon, we let you know so you can plan accordingly.
Check Donner Summit Weather
- Be sure to check high elevation weather for Tahoe, above 7,000′ for the most accurate data.
- Check Caltrans for i80 Road Conditions
- Old 40 Updates
- Old 40 is the best shortcut from Truckee to Sugar Bowl. If you want to know the status of Old 40 this winter, text “Old40” to 855-835-5599 and we’ll send you a message anytime Old 40 opens or closes.
Current Conditions on the Mountain
This mega page is THE page to check. It has our updated snowfall (recorded twice daily) plus snow reporters notes. It has real-time lift operations that are updated every time a lift status changes. You’ll also find a detailed grooming report plus an interactive grooming map. It also pulls in basic weather and road conditions to give you a solid overall sense of the conditions to expect at Sugar Bowl that day.
No Frills Twitter Updates
Want to get direct updates with no frills? We’ve got just the thing. We tweet a daily conditions report each morning along with any changes to operations, whether it’s a lift going on hold during a wind event or new terrain opening during a storm day.
Real-time Mountain Operations Updates
Seeing is believing: Up-to-Date Images
If you want an updated image of what conditions look like at Sugar Bowl check our webcams or social media.
Do you need to decide what goggle lens to wear? Check the webcams, they are located all over the mountain.
Do you want to see how good the powder is skiing while you’re stuck at work? You know we’ll be posting stories to our instagram account if there is any new snow on the ground. Que the FOMO!
In Case of Emergency
Oh oh… it does happen, so be sure to add this important contact into your phone. If you witness an injury or you’re involved in one, you’ll be able to reach the dispatch office who can send a team of ski patrollers as necessary. Unless you’ve memorized this place inside out, it can be helpful to carry a paper trail map in your pocket. That way, if you need to report the precise location of an injury, you won’t be fumbling for the name.
When reporting an accident, always remember to be brief, direct, and report the most important information first. First state your location, then a brief description of the injured person(s), and the nature of the injury. Dispatch will also want to know the number of the phone from which you are calling. If you suddenly get disconnected or your phone battery dies in the cold, at least dispatch will know your location, so they can send a ski patroller for further investigation. You can also report injuries to the chairlift attendants or anyone in a Sugar Bowl uniform.
Ski Patrol and Emergencies
- call (530) 426-6727
- or 9-1-1
Our team of mountain professionals always has a close eye on the weather and keen insights on the forecast. We’ll let you know if there’s a good storm on the horizon so you can plan the best ski trip of your life.
Powder turns = optimized, you’re welcome.
Have a Smooth First Day on the Slopes: 8 Ways
With the right preparation and a couple helpful pointers, you’ll have a lot of fun learning to ski or ride at Sugar Bowl Resort.
1. Go with a Pro & Book a Lesson
Friends are great for carpooling but they almost always fall short as ski instructors. Book a lesson with one of our certified ski & ride instructors and we’ll get you started in the right direction. The progress you can make with an hour of ski instruction can replace days or weeks of figuring it out on your own.
As I’m sure you learned all too well during the pandemic, we send our kids to professional teachers in school for a reason…they are trained to teach. Same goes for our PSIA certified Ski Instructors.
2. Know the Rules of the Road
The Skier Responsibility Code is a crash course in ski area etiquette. but it’s a good idea to get a basic idea of the do’s and don’ts before you hit the slopes. The list includes common sense items such as always stay in control & be able to stop, but also some items you might not consider, like stopping in a safe spot where you can be seen. When possible, I like to stop behind a sign or tree for an added level of protection.
3. Study the Trail Map
When you’re just getting started, look for the zones with the most green circles. (Hint: both parking areas have access to beginner terrain.) Get an idea of which chairlifts you want to ride that day to access the terrain you want to ski or ride. If you take a few minutes to get your bearings before your first day, you’ll feel much more confident when you arrive. Here’s a link to our trail map. Have questions while at the mountain, just ask someone in a blue Sugar Bowl uniform. Our team is passionate about skiing and snowboarding and loves to share that passion with others.
4. Gearing up? Get the Right Tool for the Job
Sure, your friend might have a free set of skis you can borrow, but if they are better suited for a ski museum or a foot taller than you, the “savings” are doing you no favors.
One of our friendly base area rental shops can help get you and/or your family dialed in for your first day on the slopes. A professional technician will make sure your skis or boards are properly adjusted to match your skill level. You can rest assured that our state-of-the-art rental fleet is waxed, tuned, and ready to rock. Rentals are only available for skiers and riders taking a lesson at Sugar Bowl. Be sure to book at least a day in advance!
5. What to Wear: Outfitted for the Outdoors
A great day in the mountains starts with comfortable outdoor clothing. The basics are: waterproof jacket and pants, insulating/moisture-wicking base layers, helmet, googles, gloves, and ski socks. Remember to avoid cotton wherever possible, because it gets cold when wet. For a step-by-step guide, check out this helpful blog.
Pocket essentials: we like to have a travel size sunscreen, lip balm, microfiber goggle cloth, and tissues. Forgot something? We can help at one of our on-mountain stores.
6. Give Yourself a Break
If it’s your first day, it’s safe to say that you’ll be learning a lot of new skills (and testing out a couple new muscles too!) Taking a lunch break at one of our on-mountain dining locations is an opportunity to rest, relax, hydrate, and enjoy the view of the surrounding Sierra. You’ll be ready for another round of skiing or riding after a little down-time.
On a budget? Keep a spare Cliff Bar in your pocket. Kids learning to ski too? Pack two for them! Parking lot car picnics are allowed and encouraged.
7. Acclimate to the Elevation
Many of our guests travel to Sugar Bowl from sea level and will hop on the lifts that lead straight to our highest peak at 8,383’. While this altitude change is typically manageable, you may notice a mild headache and some extra huffing and puffing going up the stairs. Stay hydrated, take it slow, and keep an extra Advil in your pocket just in case.
8. Celebrate your First Day with some Après
Don’t go just yet! After your big first day on the slopes, plan to enjoy the legendary après culture Sugar Bowl has to offer. Join us for great food and party vibes at the Belt Room. Looking for a laidback soak in the sun? Try the picnic tables outside of Judah Lodge. Whatever you’re up for, our skiing and riding culture at Sugar Bowl is a lot of fun, and we’re excited to show you what it’s all about.
A Learn to Ski & Ride Package is the best way to get started. One of our certified ski & ride instructors will get you started in the right direction. The progress you can make with an hour of ski instruction can replace days or weeks of figuring it out on your own.
I Learned How to Skate Ski and You Can Too
My First Year at Royal Gorge
I finally joined the skinny ski club and I’m OBSESSED. Before last year, I was certain that I’d be a diehard downhiller at Sugar Bowl for life, alas, last December I found myself gliding into the fabulous world of skate skiing at Royal Gorge. Now I’m a proud owner of a combo pass and I’m living out my wildest winter dreams on Donner Summit. Sometimes I even get to do both in the same day.
A couple of reasons why I decided to learn to skate last year:
1. It’s incredible exercise
I can keep my cardio up all winter without using a treadmill, the most boring invention on the planet. Pro-tip: you burn so many calories skate skiing that you get to wear a fannypack to store all your extra snacks.
2. My border collie needs the aforementioned exercise more than I do.
There are 11.7km of groomed dog-friendly trails around Van Norden Meadow. Every day my dog gets to go skate skiing is the best day of her life.
3. The landscape is unreal.
Where do I start? It’s the largest cross country resort in America so there’s a lot to see. There’s an amazing view of Sugar Bowl from the meadow, you can skate to Point Mariah to see the massive canyon where the American River starts, you can hoof it all the way up to the top of Rowton Peak and gaze over the Sierra Crest, and of course— simple pleasures, skating through snowy woods is always a winner.
4. It’s a great alternative if the ski resort conditions aren’t perfect.
Hard pack groomer at the resort? Ideal skating conditions. Skiing and skating are the ying and yang of winter sports.
We covered the nice stuff, now let’s get real.
My first day of skate skiing was, in full transparency, a slippery slam fest. It would be better classified as a comedy show for my fellow cross country skiers. But don’t worry, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. Furthermore, I’ll be the first to tell you that the challenging start was worth it.
Step #1: There’s a bit of a learning curve
I learned that my proficiency on downhill skis does NOT immediately translate to a mastery of skate skis. On day 1 I asked myself many times, “Where are the metal edges? How do they get these skis SO slippery? How am I supposed to propel myself forward with these floppy bindings and squishy boots?”
I watched skaters twice my senior glide effortlessly past me shouting friendly “hello-how-are-ya’s.” Everyone else was a lot less sweaty than me. It turns out that just because you can downhill ski/run/you’re-an-athlete doesn’t mean it won’t be challenging to try skating for the first time. The experience was humbling to say the least… but the sun was out, the trees were snowy, and it was a lot of fun!
Step #2: It’s time to do the work, how do I get better at this?
Take a Lesson
I spent at least three days wobble-wiggling through the motions before I finally booked a lesson with a professional Royal Gorge instructor. My instructor broke everything down into simple steps and showed me a series of the techniques to use on different types of terrain. We practiced drills that helped improve my single leg glide and error-corrected some bad habits I had fallen into while learning on my own. The lesson was an hour long, cost $60, and set me off on the right foot. In hindsight, I would have started here in the first place.
Personally, I believe the evenings I spent watching YouTube clips of old Olympic races, drinking wine, and yelling at the computer screen were an important part of my early skate ski training. Maybe it was the professional lesson that I finally ponied up and paid for. Either way, it’s called manifesting.
This is the fun part. Starting to skate ski is challenging in every way— it’s as mental as it is physical. While my brain was working out how this strange side-to-side movement could propel me forward, every muscles in my body was working out too. Especially the tiny weird shin muscles I didn’t realize I had, those got really sore at first. If you like a challenge and you’re prepared to be humbled, you’ll love learning to skate as much as I did.
Step #3: Where do we go from here?
Only time will tell… I’m still a diehard downhiller, but I’ve grown to appreciate my slippery skinny skis and the calm of the trails. This winter if I’m not out slashing pow at Sugar Bowl, you can find me skating around Royal Gorge to explore all the places on the trail map that I haven’t gotten to yet. Devil’s Peak anyone? If you’re learning to skate this season like I did last year, remember to be humble, don’t be afraid to fall, and eat a lot of snacks. I’m still pretty new at this to be dolling out advice but I think skate skiing is a good example of where “the journey is in the destination.” I can’t wait to get skating again this winter and keep improving. Hope to see you out there too!
P.S. if you had a lot of questions (I did) Here are some handy FAQ for you:
Q: What should I know if I’m a beginner?
Royal Gorge has two parking areas, one at Van Norden Meadow and one at Summit Station. If you need rentals or a day ticket, plan to go to Summit Station first. In total Royal Gorge has 27 beginner trails with stunning views of the Northern Sierra and Van Norden Meadow.
Q: What winter sports can I do at Royal Gorge?
You can choose between classic cross-country (where you shuffling your skis straight ahead) and skate skiing (skis move laterally like ice skates). Most beginners start out with classic skiing, but if you want to go big and start with skating, why not!? There are also great snowshoeing trails at Royal Gorge.
Q: Can I rent gear?
Yes! Royal Gorge has state-of-the-art equipment rentals are available daily. You can rent one type of equipment package (skate, classic or snowshoe) and trade it in same day for a different type. Book in advance and, on the day of your arrival, rental gear can be picked up at Summit Station.
Q: Can I take a lesson?
There are group or private lessons available at Royal Gorge with experienced instructors. Lessons are available daily but sell out, be sure to book in advance.
Q: Where should I go if I’m learning?
There is a great practice area right in front of Summit Station. There are plenty of short flat loops that start and finish here as well. The Van Norden Meadow is also beginner-friendly.
Q: What do you wear for cross-country skiing?
Dress in non-cotton layers that move easily and wick sweat.
Q: Can I bring my dog?
Yes! Park at Van Norden Meadow and enjoy the 11.7km of dog trials. See trail map and on-trail signage for details.
Behind the Passholder Beanie: Designer Interview
Aaaand we have a winner! We are pleased to bring you an interview with ’21-22 Passholder Beanie Designer Sophia Sperman. Last spring, during our first ever beanie design competition, Sophia submitted her trail map themed masterpiece. Although we received hundreds of submissions, Sophia’s design was quickly selected for the next round of the competition by a highly professional panel of judges (otherwise known as the Sugar Bowl marketing department). Our top eight picks were then blasted out on all our social channels, awaiting judgment from our faithful followers. A rigorous voting session ensued and when it all shook out, we had a clear winner. Congratulations Sophia!
The new beanies will be given out to passholders at random during the ’21/22 winter season. Hope you get one! Now, on with the interview:
Q: How did you come up with your design? What was the inspiration behind the map?
“I designed this beanie with the Sugar Bowl’s brand in mind. I wanted it to be identifiably on-brand and unique. While brainstorming ideas that fit these criteria, I remembered the resort map. I thought it would be hilariously charming to point to a map on my head if someone asked me for directions.”
Q: What’s your go-to creative outlet? Art, design, music, cat photos on Instagram… whatever
“My go-to creative outlet is absolutely art. Growing up, I drew on every scrap of paper I could get my hands on. My teachers were often irked by doodles on the edges of assignments, and I used my school planner as a sketchbook. In high school, I took a graphic design class and fell in love with Adobe Illustrator. I used Adobe Illustrator to design my entry to the Sugar Bowl Beanie Contest! I also love sculpture and print making, and most recently, I taught myself to crochet — I’ve been working on blankets for my apartment next semester. I find the overlap of physical and digital arts fascinating, and I plan on exploring that overlap in the near future!”
Q: Have you done design work before or is this amazing hat design totally out of the blue for you?
“I’ve done design work in the past. I first learned the ropes of graphic design in high school, and was later competitively chosen to revamp the logos and branding guidelines for my high school (San Leandro High School) as well as the school’s business academy logo. It’s really rewarding to see the logo I designed newly painted on the school’s exterior! Later, I worked on logos for small businesses, and I frequently find small jobs in photo editing. I’ve also dabbled in digital illustration for children’s books.”
Q: Are you going come up and ski/ride Sugar Bowl this winter? If yes, what are you most excited to experience at Sugar Bowl/Lake Tahoe?
“Unfortunately, with college and internships, I don’t think I’ll make it to Sugar Bowl this winter. However, it is a favorite destination for my aunt and me, so as soon as I can make a snowboarding trip, Sugar Bowl will 100% be in my itinerary. Hopefully, I’ll be able to come back soon for a pre-graduation trip!”
Q: What are you going to do with your $500 cash?
The $500 prize will help me pay for textbooks and lab fees during my upcoming semester at UC Berkeley! I am so grateful!
Q: What’s your experience like being a student at Berkeley? What are you studying?
“I love it here at UC Berkeley! It is easy to get a quick workout walking along the many campus footpaths – there is always somewhere new to explore! Coming into college, I was determined to find a career path that combined both art and STEM. I am an intended Chemistry major–I plan to declare my major once the fall semester starts–but I also take a lot of art classes which help me unwind from those long chemistry labs. Additionally, I’ve been interested in the chemical processes behind the art of tattoos for a long time, and majoring in chemistry is a great way to explore that niche topic.”
Q: Did your major in college help you come up with your design or totally unrelated?
“I approach chemistry with an artistic lens, which informed my artistic process designing the hat. Maps, like the one I included in my entry, are inherently structural. Maps give visual structure to the process of conveying concepts of direction and space. In a similar vein, chemistry gives us the words to describe how matter works in our world. Finding artistic ways to portray these chemical processes makes chemistry accessible and my art functional, which is important to me. Thus, I spent extra time making sure the map in my design was both functional and beautiful.”
Q: What outfit is going to look best with this beanie?
“This beanie is a statement piece that would add a fantastic touch to anyone’s outfit. I’m also a big fan of versatility in fashion, so I combined the primary colors with the Sugar Bowl color palette to ensure that this beanie will look wonderful with an outfit of almost any color scheme. Personally, I will be pairing my beanie with a light blue long-sleeved turtle neck layered under a black cami and tucked into my favorite pair of forest green jeans. Of course, I’ll have to add some cute black fuzzy boots and, if it gets cold enough here in Berkeley, my favorite blue-grey North Face raincoat.”
Q: We’re going to send you a bunch of hats, who are you going to share them with?
“I plan to share my beanies with my family–especially my aunt Phoebe Chandler, the habitual snowboarder of the family. While I was growing up, she would take me to Sugar Bowl during winter vacation to snowboard with her. She’s also the one who told me about this contest. I would not have known to enter without her, so I am very grateful that she thought of me when she saw the contest details! I also will send a beanie to my high school graphic arts teacher, Ms. Deborah Reinerio, without whom I would not have had the skills to create an entry. I am so lucky to have the support of many wonderful people in my life, and I am so excited to share my winning beanies with them!”
Q: If you could see anyone in the world wearing your design, who would it be?
I would love to have seen my Opa (the German word for grandfather) wear one of my beanies. After he was liberated during WW2, he received graphic design training in Switzerland and went on to make a living in the U.S. designing logos and product packaging. Plus, he was always wearing a hat. If he were still alive, I am sure he would be ecstatic to see what I’ve accomplished in this contest, and I know he would wear my beanie design with pride.
Q: Besides for getting to wear your beanie, what are you most excited about for this upcoming winter?
I’m a cold-weather person, so winter is my favorite season and I am excited for winter itself (along with eggnog and hopefully seeing family and friends). This winter, I am hoping to see a picture full of map-hat clad super fans of Sugar Bowl! What a treat to see my art enjoyed.
Want to get one of the ’21-22 passholder beanies?
We’ll be passing out thousands of these sweet hats throughout the season. But remember, these limited edition hats can’t be purchased, to get one you must:
- Be a season passholder
- Be out skiing or riding
- Be in the right place at the right time
Good luck and hope you get one!
We pride ourselves on consistently offering an uncrowded experience – pandemic or not – and we believe that a limit on pass sales is a responsible approach while there is still some uncertainty about restrictions and policies that could impact winter operations. Expect season pass quantities to be limited and sell out!
New Terrain Park Manager: Parker Gokey
We are thrilled to welcome new Terrain Park Manager Parker Gokey to the Sugar Bowl Team. Parker brings tons of prior terrain park and mountain management experience into his new role and he is highly respected in his field. We caught up with him for a quick interview to see what he has planned for the ’21/22 season at Sugar Bowl. Check it out:
Can you start by introducing yourself and giving us an overview of your experience in the ski industry?
“Hi I’m Parker Gokey. I’m the terrain park manager at Sugar Bowl. I’ve been building parks at Mount Ashland in Southern Oregon for the last 10 years, I was their Outdoor Operation Manager. I’m brand new here, starting last May.”
I also want to build a park that every kind of person can enjoy, from the little shredders to the Rad Dad or Mom. We’ll be building more snow features in the area near our halfpipe. When you look down the flow park, you won’t see a straight line of features. There will be features spread across the area that all connect into one another.”
What are you excited to build at Sugar Bowl to improve the terrain park experience?
“I want to bring flow park features into the Sugar Bowl Terrain park. Of course, we will have our main park with jumps, rails, everything like that, but I also want to build a park that every kind of person can enjoy, from the little shredders to the Rad Dad or Mom. We’ll be building more snow features in the area near our halfpipe. When you look down the flow park, you won’t see a straight line of features. There will be features spread across the area that all connect into one another.”
For example, maybe you have a jump to start, but on the side of that jump you’ll have an oval or a volcano that will bring you across [gesturing] to a hip over there [gesturing]. I’m also excited to build more terrain-based learning features into our program.”
What’s unique about your approach to building parks?
“I’m very hardworking. I’m generally always the first person to show up at work, whether it’s here or any job I’ve ever hand. My style is getting everything out there. I never want to see features in the parking lot, I want to see feature on the snow and I want to see people hitting those features.”
What do you love about working in the ski & ride industry?
“I’m originally from New Hampshire so ski history is very much in my blood. I love snowboarding and skiing together. I do both as well— I’ve skied since 1992 and snowboard since 2004. The most rewarding part of working in this industry is seeing people in our terrain parks, hitting features, and having fun. That’s what skiing and snowboarding is all about.”
What are your favorite terrain & conditions to ride?
“I mostly lap the park and I am always looking for a rock to jump off of. On a powder day I’ll be first in line with the other powder hounds.”
What made you want to become the Terrain Park Manager at Sugar Bowl?
“It’s independent and family-oriented. It’s definitely not a small mountain but it still has that small-mountain community feel. I have a young family and it’s the kind of place I would want my kid to learn to ski.”