Friday, October 31, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Historic Granlibakken provides unique winter experience in Lake Tahoe

Kids zoom down the sledding hill at Granlibakken resort in Lake Tahoe. Courtesy photo

By
March 14, 2011 |

Although its hill is extremely modest and barely garners a mention among Lake Tahoe’s many famed ski resorts, for several decades Granlibakken was known as the only winter playground in the entire Tahoe basin.

Never heard of Granlibakken? That’s not surprising. Drive too swiftly along scenic Highway 89 on Tahoe’s west shore and it’s easy to overlook the road that heads into this historic Norwegian-like village.

Occupying 74 beautifully wooded acres in this picturesque mountain valley, Granlibakken is located a half-mile from Tahoe City. It provides a link to the past, a reminder that some ski hills were once small in stature and remain devoid of the sophistication that typifies today’s mega resorts.

In 1928, when a mere 12 families called Tahoe City their year-round home, making a trek into Granlibakken was a regular occurrence for local children, who were overjoyed that their school shut down in December and didn’t reopen until sometime in March.

Much like children in some European villages that get covered in snow all winter, Tahoe City kids used their make-shift skis frequently as their mode of transportation. One of their prime destinations was the then unnamed Granlibakken area, where winter visitors would take a short sleigh ride from the elegant, 223-room Tahoe Tavern and head up the hill across the street for a few turns in the nearby terrain.

At the time, there was no official ski hill on the Granlibakken property. But that quickly changed when a group of touring Norwegian skiers so impressed the owners of the famed Tahoe Tavern that they hired one of the Norwegians — seven-time ski jumping champion Lars Haugen — to design a ski jump hill.

Two years and $10,000 later, Haugen completed the task in 1929, clearing an area of trees and establishing a 60-meter jump that became known as Olympic Hill. The hill quickly gained fame and hosted the Olympic Trials and the U.S. Championships in 1932.

But it wasn’t until after World War II, when Norwegian ski jumper Kjell “Rusty” Rustad moved from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, that a village resort was established and named Granlibakken — which in Norwegian means “a hillside sheltered by fir trees.”

Granlibakken was the first official ski resort in the Tahoe basin, where two years later in 1949, Squaw Valley had its modest beginnings.

Today, Granlibakken still sports a ski hill, but it’s more suited for snow play than skiing or snowboarding. A lone tow rope carries people to the top of a small hill for the quick downhill trek. On the opposite side of the ski slope, a sledding area receives much more attention.

On a recent weekend in early March, Chris and Heather Himmelmann were providing their 5-year-old daughter Grace a ski lesson and some snow play time. Granlibakken has become a winter destination for the Himmelmanns, who have driven from their home in Rancho Murrieta for a third-straight winter vacation.

“Granlibakken is really a family friendly place,” Heather said. “It’s a great beginner hill for Grace. She’s taken lessons here and keeps making good progress each year. The price is right, and we really enjoy our stay.”

More serious skiers and riders use Granlibakken for a convenient lodging location they can book for a bargain price. For $138 on the weekend ($114 weekdays), an individual receives a room, generous buffet breakfast, and a lift ticket to one of seven nearby ski resorts (Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Homewood, Mt. Rose, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Sugar Bowl, Sierra-at-Tahoe).

While serving as a serene, isolated place for families to vacation, Granlibakken is an even bigger lure as a conference destination. With more than 200 rooms and conference space for an estimated 500 people, Granlibakken hosts numerous groups year round, ranging from ski clubs to international academic organizations that seek a secluded getaway in an inspiring area.

“In the winter time we’re in the ski business, but we’re in the conference business all year round,” notes Kay Williams, Granlibakken’s resort manager. “We’re not a Holiday Inn. You get treated to a real experience here. Granlibakken is a beautiful location, and we treat you like a member of the family.”

Being in the “family” might include an impromptu dinner chat at Granlibakken’s Cedar Creek restaurant with Ron Parson, the current general manager whose family has part-owned and run the resort since 1978. Parson is a walking historian for the Granlibakken and the west shore region. Like much of the staff for which he manages, Parson is amiable and friendly.

Lodging at Granlibakken includes studio units, 1-3 bedroom townhouses with a loft, suites, executive bedrooms, and a chalet with eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.

Granlibakken converts to a summer resort around May, offering biking, hiking, year-round heated pool and spa, and use of its six tennis courts.

For more information on Granlibakken, visit  http://www.granlibakken.com or call 877 552-6325.

— Jeffrey Weidel is a Sacramento-area free-lance writer with more than 25 years of skiing experience.

Comments

comments

Jeffrey Weidel

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    State superintendent makes campaign stop in Davis

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Indians celebrate Diwali with gala on Sunday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Rairdan dinged for late report

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

     
    Veterans will tailgate at ‘Salute to Heroes’ game

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Wolk hailed for environmental votes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Yamada honored for leadership on aging issues

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Embroidery group meets at mall

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Bones for Life classes offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Bet Haverim will hear Israel update

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Local artisans featured at holiday craft fair

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Kids walk for friends at Birch Lane

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Explorit: Creep out with some spooky science

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4

     
    Shambhala offers Tai Chi class

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Enjoy wine, music and art at Sunday fundraiser for DHS choir

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Forum

    My choices on Tuesday

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Garamendi, Dodd get my votes

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

    High hopes for Sunder

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Public service is in her heart

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    A calm, thoughtful voice

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Sunder is a perfect fit

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Best predictor is past behavior

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Vote for students, with Tuck

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    .

    Sports

    DHS plays undefeated Pacers Friday night

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Blue Devil girls net an easy win at Grant

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie offense A-OK; now what about defense?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    In Davis, rugby is as American as apple pie

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
     
    Niemi’s 43 saves aren’t enough in loss to Wild

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    Calling all artists for upcoming show

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    ‘Birdman': A dark comedy that soars

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11

     
    DHS Madrigals host singing workshop

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

     
    Marcia Ball to play at The Palms

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Big, capable luxury defines Yukon

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Joseph Francis Gray

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, October 31, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER2

    Lyon Real Estate

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER3

    RE/Max Gold

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER4

    Kim Eichorn

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER5

    Susan von Geldern

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER6

    Team Traverso

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER6

    Yolo FCU

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER6

    Juan Ramirez

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER6

    Tracy Harris

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER7

    Susan von Geldern

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER7

    Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER8

    Julie Leonard

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER8

    Joe Kaplan

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER9

    Melrina A Maggiora

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER9

    Coldwell Banker

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER10

    Leslie Blevins

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER12

    Julie Partain

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER12

    Robin Garland

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER13

    Jamie Madison

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER13

    Diane Lardelli

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER13

    Karen Waggoner

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER14

    Jamie Madison & Associates

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER14

    Lisa Haass

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER14

    Ciana Wallace

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER15

    Travis Credit Union

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER16

    Malek Baroody

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER17

    Marcelo Campos

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER18

    F1rst Street Real Estate

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER20