Wish We Were Here: Northstar California Resort

Paulie | | Trip ReportTrip Report
Dip into the delights of this world-class recreation destination. Photo: courtesy of Northstar California Media

A Pre-COVID-19 Closure Report Brought to you by Ski California

Nestles among the trees of Lake Tahoe’s northwest shore, Northstar California Resort (formerly Northstar-at-Tahoe) offers something for everyone; from family to freestyle and all forms in-between, this resort is a must-visit! 

Luxury amenities surrounded by all-time skiing and snowboarding at Northstar. Photo: P.M. Fadden

The tally of attractions at Northstar reads like a wishlist for the perfect ski holiday. The Vail Resorts destination benefits by accessibility (200mi to San Fran and on Gold Pass), expansive terrain, convenient infrastructure, retail, lodging, and entertainment, plus zones to suit a variety of disciplines and sports (XC, bike park & golf).

A SnowBrains ski-envoy paid a lucky visit to Northstar California, preceding its precautionary closure, to share first-hand the lowdown at this iconic recreation destination. 

Quick Hits:

  • SUMMIT ELEVATION – 8,610ft
  • VERTICAL – 2,280ft
  • SKIABLE AREA – 3,170 acres
  • RUNS – 100 (including 7 terrain parks)
  • LIFTS – 20
  • LONGEST RUN – 1.4 miles
Professional grade terrain parks are a Northstar staple. Photo: P.M. Fadden
Ships from the fleet at Northstar, CA. Photo: P.M. Fadden

Thanks to web edits and snow industry highlights, the location is already well known as a fixture for heavy-hitter freestyle action, but we soon saw that’s only a portion of what sets the standard at Northstar so high. A glance across the sum of this resort’s ski area reveals an intricate network of trails amidst nearly endless tree line possibilities. The menu here offers steep, deep, tricky, or tranquil; it’s snowsport’s best in a single beautiful location.


Skies closed bringing falling snow, time to get to the top-floor fast! Photos: P.M. Fadden

Lucky for us, this visit coincided with a snowy stormcell, a pleasant peak to the rollercoaster-esque weather ride over California this winter 2019/20. The morning was marked by bright splashes of sunshine which gradually gave way to overcast sky and, ultimately, to moderate wind and close, dense snowfall. It was the Neopolitan of ski days–the full spectrum in a single scoop.

Jumping for joy in the mountains above Lake Tahoe. Photo: courtesy of Northstar California Media

Mt. Pluto, and its infamous Backside particularly, got better and better as the hours rolled on. In this case low, thick cloud did not necessarily equate to reduced visibility. Northstar’s trees made for easily identified markers on virtually every descent, and they doubled delightfully as creative opportunity for ducking under and into their great big boughs in search of new, untracked routes in-between the trunks.

A Northstar blank canvas. Photo: P.M. Fadden

Whatsmore, the wind transport of the snowpack’s supersurface combined with newly collected deposits meant refreshed faces with almost every lap. Unsurprisingly, this was especially true at upper mountain zones and, as icing on the cake, there were far fewer numbers up there to track it. Northstar it seems, has space to spare.

Northstar spins you right-round, right-round. Photo: P.M. Fadden

And the kicks at this resort carry-on beyond the piste. Northstar’s lodge/base area is the scene of up-tempo activity even as the chairlifts stop. Surrounded by plethoric shopping, dining, and drinking options, guests loosen their boots for a dance to DJ-spun tunes or swap their footwear entirely to take a glide on the centrally located ice skating rink.

Northstar California Resort adds a flare to the mountain experience that’s hard to leave behind and sure to beckon us back sooner rather than later.

Northstar: a destination for all seasons!

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2 thoughts on “Wish We Were Here: Northstar California Resort

  1. Changes to free parking announced after pass payments completed are so bad and customer unfriendly that they are being sued.

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