Sumptuous Accommodations Amid Captivating Mountain Terrain
While taking in the dazzling view from the sixth hole of the Resort at Squaw Creek's golf course—which looks out over close-cropped greens, lush prairie, and mountainsides stitched tight with towering pines—it's easy to forget that summer is technically the off-season here. Bob, one of the course marshals, sits at the wheel of a golf cart and sweeps an arm toward the six peaks of Squaw Valley USA, the snowsports Shangri-La that served as the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. He describes the winters, when the landscape is blanketed with snow, the mountains dotted with skiers and snowboarders, and the golf course—transformed for the season into the Nordic Center—crisscrossed with tracks left by dogsleds, cross-country skis, and snowshoes.
Tucked into the Sierra Nevadas on Lake Tahoe's north shore, the Resort at Squaw Creek blends AAA Four Diamond comforts with year-round natural recreational resources. The resort’s 405 rooms and suites underwent a $53 million renovation in recent years, a revamp evident in the Deluxe Forest View room's tumbled marble shower and grand picture window overlooking the densely pined Tahoe National Forest. In fact, the entire guest tower, in which all the rooms are located, is sheathed in lustrous black glass to maximize views of the valley.
Outdoor adventures abound on and around the resort property thanks to nearby trails and facilities such as a private outdoor ice rink and an on-site fly-fishing center. Travelers can splash in the outdoor pool complex's plunge pool and 120-foot water slide in the summer and choreograph water ballets in its heated lap pool and three hot tubs during all seasons. To help fuel these activities, Six Peaks Grille, one of the resort’s four dining venues, serves up breakfasts of fresh fruit, lox, and a goldmine of pastries kept warm amid white linens. The buffet breakfast gives diners carte blanche to the continental array plus unfettered rights to made-to-order omelets and a cadre of steel chafers containing bacon, french toast, and pancakes.
Squaw Valley USA: Mountain Playland on Lake Tahoe's North Shore
Located about a 15-minute drive from the aquamarine waters of North Lake Tahoe, Squaw Creek sits amid some of northern California's most breathtaking scenery and varied terrain. With the resort's by-the-hour bicycle rentals—Marin cruisers for adults, Trek mountain bikes for kids, and tagalong carts for infants and beloved pet rocks—cyclists can hop on Truckee River trail, a gently rolling, paved path that follows the burbling, crystal-clear river 7 miles to Tahoe City. There, a paved lakeside trail picks up, affording views of the Lake of the Sky and access to Tahoe Vista's beaches 10 miles to the north.
Come winter, the ski lift chugs to life, offering ski-in, ski-out access to the intermediate-level Snow King peak—with its wide, conifer-lined alleys—and the five peaks beyond. Skiers can access other trails via the High Camp aerial tram. In summer, when lupine and buckwheat paint the mountainside, the high camp is also a launching point for hikes along dry, pebbly trails that crunch underfoot. Although those unaccustomed to the high altitude may find themselves easily winded on even short hikes, the 1.5-mile jaunt uphill to Emigrant Peak rewards walkers with 360-degree views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierras.
The quaint clapboard buildings of the Village at Squaw Valley contain a number of shops and restaurants, including PlumpJack Café, the brainchild of former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. In a dimly lit dining room crowded with nattily dressed gastronomes, the restaurant's white tablecloths offset seasonal contemporary fare such as the inventive ceviche cone, a feuille de brick cone full of tuna, avocado, and ginger and topped with chili threads ($15).