Tahoe Donner is certainly not one of the first places people think of when they consider skiing or snowboarding in Lake Tahoe. The ski resort opened Dec. 14 and was the last of Lake Tahoe’s 14 ski resorts to open for the 2013-14 ski season.
Located off Interstate 80 and five miles from Donner Lake, Tahoe Donner has a modest downhill terrain of 120 skiable acres, accessed by two lifts and 14 trails. Its base elevation rests at 6,200 feet and its summit rises to 8,000 feet.
The lure of small ski resorts like Tahoe Donner is its uncrowded slopes, great beginner terrain, groomed runs, and areas for sledding and pure family fun.
Tahoe Donner not only has a downhill area, it also features a cross country center that is popular for locals and visitors to the Lake Tahoe region.
Tahoe Donner is an old-school resort, for sure. Where else could one find an opening-day price of $15 for adults (ages 13-74) and $5 for kids (ages 7-12). And one day later (Dec. 15), on Customer Appreciation Day, a lift ticket cost a mere $5 for everyone!
With limited terrain right now, the adult lift tickets remain at $15 and kids ski or ride for $5 a day.
Tahoe Donner remains committed to being a family resort that offers a great place to learn to ski or snowboard. It offers skiing to anyone age 3 or older. The resort definitely caters to beginners.
New for the 2013-14 ski season is a 700-square-foot yurt, which will allow the resort to provide a slopeside warm area for lessons with a large sun deck.
Tahoe Donner terrain: Besides its two chairlifts (one quad and one double chair), Tahoe Donner also has a terrain park and three surface lifts, which is a great option for those looking for a more intimate and laid-back experience.
Tahoe Donner cross country ski center: The cross country center opened for the season Dec. 8 and is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with half-day rates of $22 ($14 for homeowners) for an all-day trail pass. After 1 p.m., twilight rates of $17 ($12 for homeowners) are offered. Rental equipment is available.
Both Tahoe Donner’s cross country ski center and downhill ski area offer great programs — including a newly announced junior biathlon program (see sidebar). Sign-ups for season-long programs are still available.
Other amenities include Alder Creek Café, which is open on a limited basis with coffee, tea, soup and muffins. Although dog trails are not currently open, with more snow, cross-country skiers can enjoy the trails with their dogs by their sides. Check the website for the conditions report or for more information at www.tahoedonner.com or call 530-587-9400.
— Jeffrey Weidel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his winter website at www.tahoeskiworld.com
In the spirit of this Olympic year, Tahoe Donner’s cross country ski center is offering a new junior biathlon program led by former U.S. biathlon team member Tom McElroy. This program will be an introduction to the winter Olympic sport of biathlon, a combination of skiing and rifle marksmanship, for children in second through eighth grades.
“Biathlon was first appointed as an Olympic sport at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley,” said Sally Jones, Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center manager. “We’re excited to be able to introduce kids to this Olympic sport.”
Children who participate in the new junior biathlon program will be coached to improve their skiing skills, and also learn marksmanship and gun safety using specially designed, 100 percent safe, laser biathlon rifles. There will be eight after-school lessons held on Tuesdays, Jan. 14 through March, from 3:45 to 5 p.m. for second- through eighth-graders. Participants must have basic ski handling skills. The cost of the program is $120.
Tahoe Donner also will be offing new biathlon clinics for adults and children interested in learning about the sport. After range instruction and a brief background on the history of the sport, participants will get a chance to ski or snowshoe a short loop and then practice their skills trying to hit targets with an elevated heart rate.
This is a 1.5-hour clinic from 10 to 11:30 a.m. for ages 13 and older, or 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for youths ages 7-12. Cost $30; trail pass required. The clinics will be Sundays, Jan. 12, Feb. 8 and Feb. 17.