A few years ago, my seven-year-old daughter, Dayne, put on a pair of snow skis and never looked back.
Dayne’s very first time on skis, at six years old, she was onto the black diamond slopes by the mid-afternoon. In the past year, she had complained about being bored by the ski slopes of the area we normally frequented, so we decided to try Squaw Valley Ski Resort (otherwise known as Olympic Village) in North Lake Tahoe, where the 1960 Olympic winter games had occurred.
My husband and I packed up our daughter and twin boys and made the four-hour drive to Northern California’s back yard playground, Lake Tahoe. I skied as a kid and into early adulthood, and then a scare (which I won’t get into) turned me away from skiing. It was my kids that brought me back to having a love for the sport. Skiing is also one of those sports that we can all enjoy simultaneously and be happy — do as a family for part of the time, and depart from one another when some of us are looking for much less challenging runs (like one of my son’s and myself). It is a great way to be together, where we get hardcore exercise by day, and take in a hearty meal and sit by the fire for some Smores in the evening.
When we first pulled into Squaw Valley, I thought we were in Austria, and not in Northern California. The A-framed houses are charming and cozy, and remind me of a first ski trip to Austria when I was a little girl about my daughter’s age. Then, there is the dramatic backdrop of the seven peaks that Squaw Valley is surrounded by. A few minutes drive into the community, and you approach The Village of Squaw Valley, which offers accommodations, restaurants, stores and entertainment.
Most of the accommodations at Olympic Village are ski in/out facilities so it makes it very convenient, and the 6,000 skiable acres keeps the slopes really open, where you can perfect your technique using the whole slope from side to side as you are not concerned with bumping into people or vice versa. As vast as the ski slopes are, the resort is also well contained, so if you lose a kid on the ski slopes, you know that you’ll manage to reconnect.
On our last day, our kids enrolled in half-day lessons at Squaw Valley’s Ski & Snowboard program. What was supposed to be a group lesson ended being a private lesson for our son, Dominick, who became very proficient at snowboarding the steep blues after his lesson. Our daughter, Dayne, picked up some expert moves from the other little girls in her group who looked like they were ready to take on the Olympics. While our kids in our ski/snowboard school, for the first time in over a decade, my husband and I got the opportunity to ski together ourselves – something we don’t get to do – Ever!
Squaw Valley is one of those places that you want to return to over and over. The beauty, fresh mountain air, ease of the resort, the quiet, and yet the fun ways you can entertain kids (such as mini snowmobiles and snow tubing rides), kept all of us entertained and wanting more!
Squaw Valley Lodge
High Camp (requires a tram or ski lift to the summit of the mountain, but one of the most spectacular views on earth!)
Fireside Pizza Company
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Ski Lessons for the Kids
Squaw Valley SnoVentures
Mini snowmobiles and snowtubing for the kids