What to Do in Lake Tahoe (NYTimes.com)

Straddling Nevada and California, Lake Tahoe is a winter playground for skiers and snowboarders, food enthusiasts and anyone willing to be pulled into the area’s adventurous orbit.

By FINN-OLAF JONES on Publish Date February 25, 2015. Photo by Oresti Tsonopoulos for The New York Times.

Straddling the Nevada-California border, Lake Tahoe’s immense cobalt blue oval — unfrozen thanks to the lake’s depth — stands out against the snow-covered mountains like a colossal eye staring into heaven. This May, Tahoe’s wilderness will be even more accessible with JetBlue beginning daily direct flights between J.F.K. and Reno-Tahoe International Airport. The lake’s vastness can be absorbed only by being there — or better yet, skiing the dozen resorts surrounding it, their trails like frozen white waterfalls cutting through the fir-lined mountains. Lake Tahoe has two distinctive areas: the north side, where cowboy-chic cabins and semi-isolated shops and cafes overlook a quiet shoreline; and South Tahoe, which glitters with casinos, clubs and a slew of new upscale boutique hotels hovering above the lake. Skiing both sides in one weekend is an ambitious undertaking, but the lake’s wilderness spirit and surprising contrasts are compelling enough to pull you into its adventurous orbit.

1. History Lesson | 3 p.m.

Winter is a dramatic time to visit Donner Memorial State Park ($8 entry per vehicle) for a bracing insight into the travails of the 87 members of the Donner Party who were snowed in here during the winter of 1846-47 and resorted to cannibalism to survive. The Visitor’s Center gives a grim but inspiring overview of what Donner & Co. went though in their drive to overcome the High Sierras. It’s an especially touching and surreal experience to stand by the boulder that formed the wall of one of the party’s cabins with the nearby roar of Highway 80 drivers clearing the once-daunting Donner Pass in minutes.

2. Trampolines and Tubing | 4:30 p.m.

Beloved by the local younger set for its intimate slopes, night skiing and Camp Woodward year-round indoor training facility (trampolines! foam pits!), Boreal, perched on a scenic stretch of Donner Pass, is now celebrating its 50th year. Because of its five terrain parks, including the newly opened pirate-themed Neffland, Boreal is especially attractive to snowboarders, having hosted the United States Snowboarding Grand Prix in 2009. Boreal lights up its mile-long runs for night skiing, 3:30 to 9 p.m. Take the lift to 7,300 feet and wait for the stars to emerge above while carving through the fir trees back to the valley. You can also take the hills closer to ground on the dedicated snow-tubing park next to the parking lot (night lift ticket $29 or two-hour tubing session $34). Night skiers also have another great opportunity on Saturday when Squaw Valley, half an hour’s drive south on the Lake, illuminates its long runs with a new high contrast lighting system. (3 to 7 p.m. Lift tickets, $49)

Article continued..
Click to see a great video and interactive map at NYtimes.com

Post to Twitter Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to MySpace Post to StumbleUpon