Reno’s the Place to Hang Your Ski Toque for a Spell

by Dan Giesin | February 22, 2023

We’re just going to throw it right out there:

Reno can make a great case for itself as being the best base camp in North America for skiers and snowboarders.

Tucked up against the east side of the northern Sierra Nevada range and inside an hour’s drive away from that big blue alpine splendor known as Lake Tahoe, Reno has just about anything a winter mountain sports enthusiast could wish for … and then some. After all, you don’t get to name your local landing strip Reno Tahoe International Airport for nothing you know.

But don’t take our word for it; let’s look at some of the evidence.

Where the Goods Are

First off, there are five major downhill ski resorts less than an hour  from downtown Reno.

Mt. Rose, whose runs can be seen from almost anywhere in town, is the closest, about 40 minutes away, and its 1,200 acres and 1,800 feet of vertical is accessed by 6 chairs and 2 surface lifts.

Another Nevada ski resort, Diamond Peak, is about another 20 minutes beyond Rose, and although smaller — just 655 acres but with an impressive 1,840 feet of vert —it has one of the most amazing views of Lake Tahoe, as it sits just above Big Blue’s northeast shore.

Heading west into California, you’ll find a trio big-time ski hills 45 minutes to an hour from downtown:

Palisades Tahoe, formerly known as Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, is the giant of the lot, with 6,000 skiable acres served by 42 lifts and 2,580 feet of vertical.

Northstar, the Tahoe area’s largest family-friendly resort, has 20 lifts accessing 3,170 acres and 2,280 vertical feet.

And Sugar Bowl, California’s oldest lift-served ski resort (it’s been around since 1938), has 1,650 skiable acres and 1,500 vertical accessed by 13 lifts.

Throw in a small handful of Nordic  areas — including Tahoe Donner in Truckee, Royal Gorge on Donner Summit and Tahoe Cross Country — for skinny skiing and snowshoe trails and you have all you need for a pleasant winter holiday.

Put a Fork in It

As befits a town that boasts a population of more than a quarter-million people, there are a number of quality restaurants to replace the calories you’ve burned on the ski hill.

  • Check out La Strada, in the El Dorado hotel, for great Italian cuisine and ambience.
  • Wild River Grill, on the south bank of the Truckee River in downtown, is noted for their burgers and jazzy atmosphere.
  • Miguel’s Mexican Food, at the junction of Mt. Rose Highway and Interstate 580, serves up generous portions of Southwestern fare.
  • Hinoki Sushi, also on the south end of town, is the only place around for a true omakase experience.
  • And the brand new Reno Public Market, just south of the downtown core area, is the place for locavores to hang.

A Person’s Gotta Sleep

Obviously, there are no ski-in, ski-out accommodations in Reno, but being a city that attracted more than 3.86 million visitors during the 2021-2022 fiscal year it has plenty of lodging options, ranging from economical motels to lavish spa-type digs.

However, most visitors generally opt for one of the half-dozen “resort hotels” that dot the city: The Grand Sierra Resort near the airport; the so-called Row, which comprises three properties — The Silver Legacy, Circus Circus and El Dorado — that share a common gaming area, in the downtown core, and the Peppermill and Atlantis on the south side of town.

All these hotels have pretty good-size casinos — this is Nevada after all — but they also have  a number of decent eating and drinking establishments, spa services and other diversions.

The defense rests.

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