News from the snow
Kirkwood's potential to be a world class ski resort was first recognised in the 1960's by Bud Klein, former chairman of Klein Bros International. After the tremendous success of the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics there was a huge upswing in interest in Californian skiing and it seemed that everyone was out looking for a place to build the perfect ski resort. Together with a group of prominent Stockton business men, who were also avid skiers, he formed Kirkwood Meadows Inc and in 1968 submitted a combination of 2 master plans which were approved by the US Forest Service. In 1972 Klein's vision culminated with the opening of Kirkwood ski resort. What started off with only 4 ski lifts has grown steadily over the years and in 1995 the Telluride Group purchased a significant interest in Kirkwood, launching the resort into a new phase of development with further new lifts and mountain village facilities. Today there are 12 lifts, luxury ski in/ski out condominiums and townhomes, and all the facilities you would expect from a world class resort. As well as its manmade facilities Kirkwood has excellent snow records. You could say this region of North America has the perfect formula for plentiful high quality snow. Kirkwood's geographic location in the Sierra Nevada , which literally translates as "snowy mountains", combines with its low humidity to create a weather pattern that produces perfect quality snow in huge quantities. During winter, weather systems from the nearby Pacific are carried north via the Polar Jet Stream to the Gulf of Alaska where they cool before heading south and tracking towards Lake Tahoe. When the weather systems meet with the Sierra Nevada mountains they cool rapidly and the moisture condenses to produce more than 500 inches of snow annually. Most of the mountains top 10,000 ft which produces even lighter powder and for 6 of the last 7 seasons Kirkwood has laid claim to having the deepest powder in North America. This, along with around 300 days of sunshine a year would explain why Kirkwood has been voted in the top 10 American ski resorts by Ski USA magazine. Kirkwood, combined with the 5 other Ski Lake Tahoe resorts—Alpine Meadows, Heavenly, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Squaw Valley USA—offer over 17,000 acres of skiing and riding serviced by more than 100 chairlifts, including more wide open bowls and high speed chairlifts than any other ski destination in North America. Located around the largest alpine lake in North America, the Ski Lake Tahoe resorts offer unparalleled scenic beauty as well as an array of different resort experiences to suit the preferences and style of every winter sports enthusiast. In the past five years, Kirkwood has invested $100 million in developing the mountain village. Last year, the resort focused its efforts on the mountain by building a family tubing park and installing the first high speed quad. This year, improvements will be centered on the base area, with development of the ice rink, recreation center, swimming complex and two new ski-in/si-out condominium complexes - called Snowcrest and Meadowstone. Originally a meadow surrounded by mountains, the resort takes its name from Zachary Kirkwood who arrived here along with emigrants and fortune seekers during the Californian Gold Rush Days of the mid 1800s. He loved the place so much that he stayed on and opened the Kirkwood Station, now known as the Kirkwood Inn. Its hard to imagine it now but the Inn, which was then mainly frequented by Washoe Indians, travellers and cattle ranchers, was once the site of occasional shoot-ups, bootlegging, gambling. The Washoe Indians , renowned for their intricate basket weaving, were indigenous to the area around Lake Tahoe which they considered to be a sacred place and where they would gather each spring for a sacred ceremony. The name Tahoe derives from the Washoe meaning "big lake".
With the highest base area in northern California, Kirkwood has a European feel. All of the accommodation is condo-based and there is a large amount of cross-country skiing.
This year voted one of the top ten resorts for on-mountain experience and one of the best places in America to learn to ski and board. Kirkwood's Ski and Board School programmes promote active learning by emphasising movement throughout the lesson without a lot of passive listening and lessons are structured around breaking through to the next skill level and expanding terrain options.
First time instruction takes place at Timber Creek on the region's widest, most gentle beginner slopes, away from faster moving skiers and boarders with lessons led by skilled professionals who provide individualised attention in a relaxed group environment.
For the more experienced skiers, Kirkwood offers various camps including All Mountain Day Camps which focus on all mountain skiing with 4 on-snow hours and an hour of video analysis, and Ladies All Conditions Camps which encourage ladies to ski at their ability level while pushing their limits in a safe and supportive environment.
The North American Ski Training Centre has been based at Kirkwood since 1996 and offers multi-day, total immersion, performance ski school for advanced intermediate up to expert skiers with special clinics offered in backcountry skills and avalanche awareness.
Kirkwood has 80km of cross-country trails with a variety of terrain ranging from the flat, groomed trails in the Meadow or the advanced trail appropriately named "Agony".
The Mighty Mountain Children's Ski and Snowboard School, for skiers aged 4 to 12 years or snowboarders aged 7 to 12 combines supervised fun with skill development on the slopes. Youngsters have a great time with others of their own age and ability while developing their skills and exploring Kirkwood's unique terrain. Private lessons are available too for kids aged from 3 years up to 12. The customised program features its own terrain garden, terrain parks and surface lifts. Parents are invited to choose between leaving their children after registration (as early as 8.30am) or they can ski or ride with their children until the lesson begins at 10am. If you choose the full day program then lunch is included.
Kirkwood's Child Care Centre provides non-skiing childcare at its new more convenient slopeside location for children from 2 to 6. Supervision is by qualified staff who will provide indoor and outdoor activities.
Children even have their own cross country trail at Kirkwood. The "Kiddie Kilometer" features life size cut-outs of forest animals and flip up signs which show an animal track on the outside and a drawing of the animal when flipped up.
If the action on the slopes is still not enough for the kids then they can sled over to Woody's Family Fun Zone, the snowplay area adjacent to Chair No 1 (Snowkirk) to extend their adventures into the evening. The handle tow provides effortless transportation up the tubing hill and tubes, discs and toboggans are all available for rent. The Red Cliffs Barbecue Deck makes the perfect vantage point for parents
For typically Californian fayre and to view some of Kirkwood's ski memorabilia try the slopeside Cornice Cafe Restaurant and Bar . The walls of the Cornice celebrate the Kirkwood chronology with everything from neon neoprene to padded racing sweaters and hexel skis. The menu includes steaks, burgers, seafood, and a fantastic selection of appetizers as well as a well stocked bar.
The Kirkwood Inn was built in 1864 by Zachary Kirkwood and has been in operation ever since. Open daily for hearty lunches and dinners. Features continental cuisine including mouthwatering steaks and seafood, as well as a unique blend of menu items with a regional flare. Live entertainment Saturday nights and holidays. Full service bar. Menu highlights: The lunch menu offers a choice of Soup, Salads, Beef Stew, Chili, Burgers and a variety of sandwiches ranging from Grilled Portabella to the Chuck Wagon Dip (a french dip topped with melted jack cheese). At dinner you can choose between Rack of Ribs, New York Steak, Chicken Fiesta, Pasta Milano-Penne and the Fresh Catch of the Day.
The luxurious Off the Wall Bar and Grill is located in the Lodge at Kirkwood. Dinners here feature California fine dining in comfortable style with mood lighting and overstuffed chairs and couches. The fireplace and awe-inspiring views extending along Kirkwood's ridgetops from Thimble Peak to Martin Point enhance the intimate setting. Full service bar. During the lunch hour you'll find a variety of salads, sandwiches and specials such as California Rolls and Off the Wall Ahi. At dinner you can choose from Lodge Tournedos, Rack of Lamb, Pork Cabernet, Plum Ducky, Holiday Halibut, Off the Wall Ahi and a Portobella Mushroom Napolean.
South Lake Tahoe 56km/35 miles offers visitors over 100 dining establishments, 65 lodging properties, shopping, dancing, live music, entertainment and gaming action. Renowned for the quality and variety of its restaurants, one can find everything from old-fashioned pancake houses to restaurants featuring world-class chefs trained at Europe's finest culinary schools. On any given night visitors can relax to live country music, blues, jazz, or rock-and-roll at any of Tahoe's myriad of night clubs.
For comedy, musical reviews, live entertainment with the likes of Carrot Top, Kenny Loggins, or Vince Gill head to the casinos where celebrities take the stage every night of the week.
From mid-December to early April, Kirkwood provides daily transportation from various South Lake Tahoe lodging properties.
Kirkwood's snowboard centre has over 350 snowboards and 500 pairs of boots available for rent including the latest in snowboard technology. Kirkwood Mountain Outfitters in the Red Cliffs Day Lodge have a wide variety of snowboard equipment and clothing available for those who would prefer to buy their own.
Snowboard instruction is available with the resort's skilled staff of board professionals who offer instruction for all levels from first-timers to the more advanced riders. Kirkwood hosts a variety of snowboarding events