Red, White and Snow in Lake Tahoe

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Fourth of July is synonymous with summer fun.

Parades loaded with kids on decorated bikes, fireworks, barbecues, warm pie with ice cream and sunshine. The list could go on, but you get the idea.  Even having lived through years of cold patriotic celebrations in San Francisco, one thing I don’t think of on Independence Day is snow.

This year things are different.

In early April, I spent a spring weekend with the kids at Squaw Valley, in Lake Tahoe, California. I typically don’t do well in cold, but even with fresh snow and chilly temperatures it was a great weekend. Record snowfall had folks buzzing about the possibility of an extended ski and snow boarding season.

Ski Dreams Do Come True

Keep the gear handy, because slopes at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resort will be open 4th of July weekend. Even if you’re not a skier, you have to understand this is a big deal. When summer arrives in Lake Tahoe, the snow gear gets pushed to the back of the closet and summer items like bikes and hiking gear move to the front. The last time Squaw was open for skiing on Independence Day was the 1998-99 season. It’s the fourth time in the resort’s history they’ve opened the slopes on the 4th of July.

Independence Day Experience Like No Other

For those of us who are less than advanced skiers or riders (yes, I include myself in that category), there will be plenty of options. Squaw plans to operate five lifts from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 2 through Monday, July 4th. 2011-12 season passes will be honored, but holiday lift tickets are a good deal for families at $49 per day for adults and $12 for kids 12 and under. Oh yeah, all tickets for the weekend will include a free commemorative T-shirt.

Skiers and snow boarders at Alpine Meadows can hit the slopes from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Pre-sale holiday weekend lift tickets start at $40, but if you take part in their 4th of July Fan Quest challenge, you might be able to score lift tickets for as low as $25.

You Don’t Have to Ski

One of the reasons my family enjoyed our weekend at Squaw was that it doesn’t only have to be about skiing and boarding. There’s something for everyone. Families can easily spend a kid-friendly summer weekend in Lake Tahoe, never hit the slopes and still go home very happy. There won’t be time for anyone to be bored.

Squaw Valley Selections

If you’d rather catch some rays than air, head to Squaw Valley’s High Camp Swimming Pool and Hot Tub at elevation 8200’. While you are there, you can take the kids roller skating, play disc golf, tennis or check out the small, but historic Olympic Museum. The 4th of July Arts and Crafts Festival will be in full force over the weekend. If you’re lucky enough to be there, check out the 21st Annual Lake Cushing Crossing. Essentially, contestants skim the lake on skis, but keep in mind, it’s summer, so the lake is a lake, not a sheet of ice. It’s the first ever summer crossing, so I’m thinking eventually everyone gets very wet, some just might have a bit more grace doing it than others.

Alpine Meadows Activities

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort is hosting what they are calling “the ultimate Independence Day celebration.” Along with skiing and  snowboarding, the resort has plans for barbecues, live music and family friendly games like a hula-hoop contest, beanbag toss, dance-off and a “Slip & Slide.”

It was a long, cold and wet winter for folks in Northern California. Fourth of July skiing and snow boarding is a well deserved reward for all those snow days … and the shoveling that came with them.  As for the rest of us that will invade for the holidays, I think we’re just extremely lucky.

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