Truckee, CA Listed on National Geographic's World's 25 Best Ski Towns
In the Sierra Nevada north of Lake Tahoe, between Reno and South Lake Tahoe, the old logging and railway town of Truckee has bloomed into a ski mecca, with no less than eight different ski areas within 15 miles. The first recorded ski lift in the U.S. was a Truckee steam-powered tobaggan lift in 1910, and the burg still maintains much of its Old West character, with wooden walkways in its historic downtown and a still active, clapboard train station (Amtrak service twice daily). Its population of 16,180 is growing fast, but the relaxed town has managed to eschew the glitz of the larger Tahoe resort scene. This is where the locals live.
With many of its ski areas receiving some of the highest average snowfall totals in the country—more than one ski area ran lifts on the Fourth of July this past year—it’s easy to understand why the locals choose to live here. Famed for its extreme terrain and appearances in countless ski movies, Squaw Valley is Truckee’s alpha mountain, with six distinct peaks, a superpipe, and plenty of bleached hair and mirrored goggles. It’s called “Squallywood” for a reason. A recent merger with neighboring Alpine Meadows, a family favorite, will, when connected, create the one of the country’s largest ski areas. Northstar, six miles southeast of town, is an intermediate’s paradise; Sugar Bowl has steeps that rival Squaw but with fewer crowds; Tahoe Donner, right in town, and nearby Soda Springs are perfect for beginners.
Daron Rahlves—four-time Olympian, 15-year member of the U.S. Ski Team, and current Sugar Bowl ski ambassador—moved to Truckee with his family when he was 19 and is now raising his own children there. Here are his recommendations.