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Northstar at Tahoe Ski Resort Profile
Summary: Two things set the skiing apart at Northstar from its neighbors: First, an abundance of beginner and moderate trails. A whopping 75% of trails are either beginner or intermediate, the largest such measure on our list. Second, the ski conditions are usually better at Northstar than its neighbors due to its setting on the lake and number of trees. When comparing Northstar to the other Tahoe resorts, you’ll definitely find more good ski days here than the other places.

Review by Christy Mehrlich

Ski, Ride, Tube or Skate. Northstar has it all-89 runs, 18 lifts, 8 terrain parks- not to mention the ice skating rink and the lift accessed tubing hill.If your family is looking for the complete, contained, Tahoe winter experience, Northstar is the place to go… and stay.

Being such a goliath, Northstar is not a place you want to tackle in the morning before you ski. The parking is horrendous, and costly for people who arrive the morning of, however, for families who stay on site, it's a breeze to hit the slopes early.

With 230 onsite lodging units for rent, including Big Horn, a ski-in ski-out residence, there areample choices for places to stay based on size, price, and location. If you are looking for a less dated, more centralized unit, the condos within the village are your best bet. While they are more expensive, they give you the ability and time to take advantage of Northstar's well-developed après ski scene, as the condos are located just above all the activity.

Remodeled in 2008, the Village now contains 40,000 square feet of retail space including 12 places to eat, and over 20 shops. The food in the village is varied in price and type. For instance, there are currently four sit down restaurants serving both pizza and sushi, in different establishments of course! The lodge, like most, serves your basic ski selection at your basic lodge price… high. So, for more variety, the village is the way to go.

As for the mountain itself, expansion has also occurred. In 2008, the skiable area increased by 414 acres. So, like everything at Northstar, there are a lot of options. The backside and the runs from lookout point tend to be more advanced, while the runs facing the day lodge are mainly beginner and intermediate (making up almost 75% of the mountain), giving your family plenty of opportunity to develop your skills. And if lessons are required, in skiing, riding, telemarking, cross-country or snowshoe, why Northstar's got it! If, however, some of your children are too young to learn, there is licensed childcare available for children ages two and up. To make this option even more appealing, Northstar now offers a free adult lift ticket upon purchase of all-day childcare through the Minor's Camp Child Care Center.

If your family happens to venture off the self-sustained mountain, perhaps to ski the competition, there are at least six other mountains within an hour drive; Mt. Rose, Diamond Peak, Homewood, Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley and Boreal. Staying at the resort and braving other mountains and other towns is an option, and is highly recommended.

In fact, your family can't come to Northstar and not visit Lake Tahoe. Just six miles from the Northstar entrance, Kings Beach sits right along the North Shore of the lake. Being a small strip of a town, with incredible views, Kings Beach is a quaint and unique place to grab a bite, take a picture or peruse the shops.

No matter what your goals for vacation are, Northstar can help you achieve them. Because, while no one mountain can be everything to everyone, Northstar sure tries, and gets awfully close.

Terrain / Highest Elevation / Vertical Drop: 2,500 acres / 8,600 feet / 2,200 feet

Activities for Non-Skiers: Northstar offers an atmosphere with some activities for the non-skier, but not to the extent of places like Aspen or Stowe. Still, restaurants, shops and boutiques offer enough entertainment off the mountain, with more being added each year. For those with transportation, easy day-trips to Reno’s casinos or longer day-trips (3 hours) to the Napa wine country can augment the ski experience.

Ski School: Northstar’s highly regarded ski school accommodates kids ages 3 to 15. Full day prices range from $129 to $139. Northstar has also created a parent and toddler joint lesson for children ages 3 or 4 and a caregiver. This follows a trend we are seeing at the more family-oriented resorts.

Day Care: Northstar’s childcare accommodates older children than many resorts we have reviewed. Ages 2-6 are welcome at Northstar’s Minor’s Camp, while the norm in the industry is to accommodate infants starting at age 2-6 months. The childcare rates range from $99 - $129, depending on length of time and time of year. However, the Parent Predicament lift ticket, allowing two parents to share one lift ticket throughout the day, offers a very innovative solution to the need to care for an infant at the resort.

Getting here: Northstar is located on the northern edge of Lake Tahoe, a 3 hour drive from San Francisco. For those flying, Reno is just 30 minutes away, and offers air service from Boise, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Elko, Houston, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Spokane and Tucson.

Insider Tip: Being so close to Napa and the Bay area, standards are high for dining. Options and quality of food is one of the great pluses of the Northstar area.

Christy Mehrlich is a Lake Tahoe based writer recognized for her work in aviation and travel journalism. Her work has been featured in numerous newspapers and web-zines, as well her website, www.skyfemme.com, which documents her experience flying a single engine Piper Arrow around the country for 21 weeks.