What’s New at Squaw Valley for Families

Squaw Valley has Olympic history; it hosted the 1960 winter Olympics and is the home mountain of Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley who is now a spokesperson for the ski resort.  It also has a reputation for extreme skiing.

What you may not know is that Squaw Valley is transforming itself to appeal to a larger audience; beginner and intermediates skiers, foodies and families take note – there is more here for you now.

Squaw Valley Village in Winter

Squaw Valley village

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows Merger

The biggest news is that Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have combined operations.  Skiers now have access — on one lift ticket — to 6,000 skiable acres, 44 lifts and over 270 trails.

The vibe is so different at each resort that it feels like two completely different ski experiences. Alpine Meadows is all about the skiing. There are restaurants and a ski shop but the resort is smaller and more intimate feeling.  Squaw Valley is about a more varied experience – skiing is the priority, but the Village and resort offer many amenities and activities when you want a break from the slopes.

This merger proved popular with the local skiers according to Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley who reported a “38% increase in the purchase of season passes.”  Complimentary shuttle busses run continuously between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

Ski Up Starbucks Squaw Valley California

First ever ski-up Starbucks

Improved Ski Experience

Signage and Grooming. For the first time in Squaw’s 62-year history, there are established trail names and maps.  This means no guessing where to meet up with people if you are new to the mountain. And, the new information boards at the bottom of the hill feel like the flight departures and arrivals boards at airports – practical and easy-to-use.  Green dot means open, red dot means closed.

The days we skied were snowy and cold with plenty of fresh powder.  I felt about 20 years too old when I kept hearing skiers say “It’s just sick out there” which translates to ‘the powder is amazing’.  After one run (or fall) through the powder, “sick” wasn’t the first word that came to mind.

While many people in my ski group raved about the powder, I was grateful to get back on the groomed trails. With new grooming machines and maps marked with the groomed trails, it’s easier to stay on the terrain that you want to ski.

Gold Coast Complex Gets an Update and a Shot of Espresso. The 28-person Funitel (gondola) drops skiers off at the mid-mountain Gold Coast Complex which has received a mini-makeover including more bathrooms, lockers and the first ever ski-up Starbucks.

We took time out for a photo but it was too cold to stand outside and drink anything – on a warmer day I imagine it will have a line.

Squaw Valley Village Restaurants

New at The Village at Squaw Valley

If you have an après-ski romantic idea of what a mountain ski village should look like, this is it.  There is so much to do here we couldn’t begin to cover it all in a day.  Good restaurants, wine tasting, shopping, spa, candy stores, toy stores – you name it, it’s all here and packaged in an inviting village.

Dining. I didn’t think I’d get great food and a view of the mountain but we had both at the new upscale Rocker@Squaw and Twenty-Two Bistro Bar. Kids are welcome and there is a kids’ menu, but we saw mostly adults in these restaurants (although that may have been due to our weekday visit.)

For a more casual atmosphere, Olympic House is home to several new and expanded dining options: Wildflour Café and Batch Cupcakery are counter service and great family options, while the upper level offers the hip hangouts of The KT Base Bar, Bar One and O-Lounge.  If I didn’t have kids in tow, I’d head here.

Shopping. If you want to see what’s cutting edge in skiing or winter wear (or you just didn’t pack the right clothes) Salomon, Oakley and The North Face have opened new concept stores.

Editorial Note: Squaw Valley and the Resort at Squaw Creek provided complimentary lodging, activities and meals on this trip.  They did not ask us to present any particular point of view.

Photos courtesy of Squaw Valley and Kristi Marcelle

Relevant Links:

Resort at Squaw Creek Review on Ciao Bambino

Things to do in Squaw Valley with kids

Favorite Lake Tahoe summer activities with kids

Ciao Bambino’s family-friendly ski vacation recommendations

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