Kirkwood is great mountain resort located in a remote part of South Lake Tahoe. I highly recommend checking it out if you are ever in the area. Below is our review of one of the best places to ski or ride in the Lake Tahoe area.
Pros: Terrain, Vibe, Overall Experience
Cons: Only 1 high speed Lift to the top, Access/Parking, Terrain Park
One of the cons of Kirkwood also factors in as a pro. Due to it's more remote location, it gets less crowded than Heavenly, Northstar, or Palisades. That is not to say it never gets crowded, but it is almost always less so than its counterparts in the Lake Tahoe area. Kirkwood is about an hour drive from South Lake Tahoe and an hour and half or more from Reno. It is also only accessible via one long road with parking stretched across the entire bottom of the mountain (because of this, there can be long lines getting into the parking lot). It is a horizontally oriented mountain with lifts sprawled across the face of a long ridge. Advanced skiers and riders will spend most of their time on 2 or 3 main lifts that take you to the top the ridge. The terrain options are limitless with tons of chutes, gullies, tree runs, and steeps.
If you are willing to traverse a bit from the lift you can get yourself into some pretty amazing terrain. It is super fun mountain to ride, but do not expect a super fancy experience. They have some restaurants, a lodge, and a few bars, but don't expect a Starbucks and a Patagonia store in a Village. Additionally, they only have one high speed lift to the top. The lack of facilities actually makes the place more fun in my opinion because you get mostly hardcore skiers and riders who just want to rip down the face of an amazing mountain.
There was no terrain park the day I went, maybe because the area had been slammed by so much snow that they couldn't build one. However, the backcountry feel of the the terrain and the overall experience of the whole mountain means that they don't really need a park. There is so much fun stuff to ride or ski across the mountain, I am sure you will not even notice if there is a park or not. If you can get past the lack of high speed lifts and the more basic lodge offerings, then this is a great mountain for anyone looking for fun on the snow. There is quite a bit of extreme terrain, so be careful as you traverse away from the chairlift because you can get yourself into some gnarly areas (nothing an advanced skier/rider can't get through). Kirkwood is my favorite place to visit (other then Mammoth Mountain) when I want to get out into some new terrain.