Back in 2011, Palisades Tahoe – then called Squaw Valley – acquired neighboring ski resort Alpine Meadows. The combination of these two resorts created one of the largest ski areas in the Lake Tahoe region. However, the two were only really “connected’ via a short bus ride between the two.
Then, right before the 2022/23 ski season, after a decade of waiting, the two resorts were finally connected via an $65 million dollar gondola. The new gondola spans 2.4 miles over the course of 15 minutes and ascends a total of 3,105 vertical feet. It takes passengers from one base terminal to the other, with a stop at the new KT Mid station. The gondola will offer skiers and riders two ways to reach the resort’s iconic Kt-22 and has the capability of operating as one continuous lift or two separate lifts.
Since one lift ticket gets you access to both mountains, usually the metrics for the resorts are simply combined into one. You can see those here:
|Ski Resort||Palisades Tahoe – Alpine Meadows||Palisades Tahoe – Palisades Mountain|
|Location||Alpine Meadows, CA, 96146||Olympic Valley, CA, 96146|
|Summit Elevation (ft)||8,637||9,050|
|Base Elevation (ft)||6,835||6,200|
|Vertical Drop (ft)||1,802||2,850|
So from the comparison table above, you can see that the original Palisades Mountain is larger and more difficult by nearly every metric shown. Palisades Mountain has a thousand more feet in its vertical drop, twice the number of lifts, 1,200 more skiable acres, and almost double the number of trails. Palisades dwarfs Alpine Meadows on the surface.
It should be known that Palisades Mountain is probably better known as Olympic Valley, which got its name after it hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics. But since Palisades themselves call it Palisades Mountain, so shall we. Anyway, back to the story…
Anyway, not everything can be explained with numbers alone.
The two resorts differ mostly in accessibility and crowds. Palisades Mountain boasts a monstrous network of lifts that provides easy access to its vast terrain. Meanwhile, Alpine Meadow’s steepest and most revered skiing requires a bit more effort, but it’s worth it because the terrain often has fewer crowds and thus more untouched snow. Alpine also offers excellent options for intermediate/groomed skiing and side country terrain.
Palisades Mountain also boasts a more vibrant village and après atmosphere, as well as a better on-mountain amenities layout.
Palisades Mountain (Olympic Valley) Pros
- Has more steep and expert terrain than Alpine.
- The chairlifts here are unrivaled: KT-22 (aka the Mothership), Summit, Siberia, Granite Chief, and Silverado.
- Can access backcountry skiing via a convenient chairlift.
- More terrain parks than Alpine.
Alpine Meadows Pros
- Less crowded, especially during weekends and holidays.
- More groomed trails with snowmaking capabilities.
- More long, mellow trails for the beginner/intermediate skier, providing a more relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.
Note #2: Palisades was called Squaw Valley for the first 72 years of its existence. In 2021, Alterra decided that the name was no longer appropriate (was it ever?), and renamed it Palisades Tahoe.