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Kirkwood Ski Resort Guide

Kirkwood, United States

Rated: 3/5 (from 6 ratings)

Ski Area Highlights
Recommended ForIntermediates, Snowboarders, Snowfall and Apres-Ski!
Highest Lift2,990m9,810ft
Resort Height2,380m7,808ft
 Nearest AirportReno Tahoe
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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.


The American ski resort of Kirkwood is at an altitude of 2,380m7,808ft.

Kirkwood has direct access to 65 marked pistes, served by a total of 12 ski lifts.

The ski resort itself is at 2,380m7,808ft, so skiing or boarding back to the resort is usually possible. With ski lifts as high as 2,990m9,810ft, skiing and snowboarding is assured throughout the season.

Snow and Weather

When will it snow in Kirkwood?

There is currently no significant snow in the 7-day forecast for Kirkwood.

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Snow this week

Snow Forecast by day for Kirkwood

Ski Area Stats

Kirkwood Ski Area

Piste and Lift Stats
Black Pistes
Expert Trails
Red Pistes
Intermediate Runs
Blue Pistes
Easy Trails
Cross Country
Total Length
80km50 miles
Ski Lifts
Number of Lifts


Kirkwood Ski Area Heights

Lift Heights and Resort Altitude
Highest Lift2,990m9,810ft
Lowest Piste2,380m7,808ft
Resort Altitude (Kirkwood)2,380m7,808ft
Max Vertical610m2,001ft

Ratings & Suitability

Ratings for Kirkwood
Expert Skiers
Intermediate Skiers

Kirkwood Overview

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.

 Notable Ski Runs

The longest possible descent in Kirkwood is 4km2 miles long and the most difficult run is the 'The Wall'.


With 12 lifts, a 2,000ft vertical descent and over 68 runs to choose from, Kirkwood offers the best of what skiers and riders of all abilities look for in a resort. Boasting the deepest snow in North America for 6 out of the last 7 season, Kirkwood is known as the home of Tahoe's deepest snow. Steep chutes, powder filled open bowls and numerous runs with varying terrain have made Kirkwood one of Lake Tahoe's premier ski resorts and a favourite with locals.

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.

Kirkwood offers good sking, particularly, for Expert and Intermediate skiers.


With its chutes, wide open bowls, rock drops and long gullies the resort itself could be considered to be a gigantic natural funpark. Snowboarders have had a man-made freestyle park since 1995/96 which has been a huge success and attracts riders from across the West. The park features quarter pipes, tabletop jumps, a snake and a large spine jump as well as a well maintained half-pipe. Skiers and bladers are just as likely to be using the snowpark here and exchanging tips on tricks.

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

Location and Map

Where is Kirkwood?

This ski resort is in Bonhomme, St. Louis, United States.


Tap Show Map in Full Screen for Full-Screen, or see J2Ski's Resort map, showing Hotels and Ski Shops.

How to get there

 By Air

The nearest airport to Kirkwood is Reno Tahoe, 88 minutes drive away.


Ski Lift Capacity

The 12 ski lifts are able to uplift 16,300 skiers and snowboarders every hour.

Season Dates

When is Kirkwood open?

We don't currently have confirmed season dates, but hope to soon.

Usual opening is late November, and usual closing is Early May (Open to end April or early May depending on conditions/dates).

NOTE:- Ski area, lift and piste opening is subject to Current Snow Conditions.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus

We don't yet have specific details of the COVID-19 precautions being taken in Kirkwood, but they are likely to include most of the following :-

  • Face masks required on lifts, and in shops.
  • Social distancing in public areas.
  • Reduced lift capacity.
  • Extensive disinfection / sanitization.

French Ski Resort COVID-19 Measures describes further measures that may also be applied.

Visit the Kirkwood Tourist Office for the latest.

Talking about Kirkwood

Mentions in recent J2Ski News Items and Snow Reports from our users...

Aprés Ski

Kirkwood's apres-ski centres around its restaurants and bars. There's Karoake every Friday night in Bub's Pub and Sports Grill and live music every Saturday night at the Kirkwood Inn.

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.