Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California

Mount Lincoln, Sugar Bowl ski resort

Mount Lincoln, Sugar Bowl ski resort

Sugar Bowl was founded in 1938 by a consortium which included the participitation of Walt Disney.  By the following winter several trails had been cut, and the first ever chair lift in California installed.  1940 saw the construction of the famous Sugar Bowl inn, which still stands proudly at the foot of Mount Disney.   The resort was (as is) popular with the gliterati – the resort’s website features a charming old film clip of Marilyn Monroe skiing (and falling over!).

You’ll find it easy to get to Sugar Bowl, as it’s situated by the Donner pass, just a few miles west of Truckee, a short drive off Interstate 80.  Driving time from San Francisco is about 31/2 hours, from Reno 1 hour.  Truckee is also served by Amtrak, so the train then taxi is another option.  Beware though, that because of the easy access, Sugar Bowl can be crowded at the weekend.

There are two parking lots at Sugar Bowl. The first, the Judah parking lot is situated directly at the foot of Mount Judah base. The second, the Disney lot, is a gondola ride away from the Mount Disney base, and this can busy at times.  So unless you’re planning to stay at the Inn (at the Mount Disney base), it’s probably better to park at Judah.

The skiing area at Sugar Bowl encompasses some 1500 acres spread across the northern slopes of three mountains, Mount Judah,  served by the Judah express rising from the Judah base, Mount Lincoln, reached by the Lincoln chair from the Mid Mountain Lodge and Mount Disney connected to its base by the Disney chair.    It’s easy to transfer from one skiing area to another, as there are all connected by green (or harder) runs.

Sugar Bowl has a separate area set aside for learners, next to the ski school at Judah Base.  Improvers will find the easy runs accessed via the Christmas Tree lift perfect for their first forays onto a big hill.

Mount Disney is a paradise for Intermediates, with a huge amount of easy cruising  runs like Crowley’s and Station B and also the fantastic Henderson’s bowl.

Experts will know all about the famous Silver Belt race, which was first run way back in 1940.  The raceline drops straight off the summit of Mount Disney swooping down to the Steilhang trail.  You’ll also know all about the most famous ‘son of Sugar Bowl’, Daron Rahlves, who made his mark by winning the horrifying Hahnenkamm race in 2003.  |Sample the excellent Rahlves Run trail, named after the legendary skiier.

Slopeside ski-in ski-out accommodation at Sugar Bowl consists of the Inn (very characterful, but very expensive), and some new condo style lodgings at the Judah base. The limited facilities make for a limited nightlife, but after a day on the slopes you will want to tuck in early!

Best Ski Resorts‘ (from 100BestEverything) rating (out of 5 stars) 2-expert,4-intermediate, 3-beginner.


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