Imagine yourself 3,000 feet in the air, gliding steadily over snow-capped pine trees and swaths of white tundra as far as the eye can see. In the distance, you spot a glistening, pristine lake surrounded by mountains. You take a deep breath and wrap your mind around the exquisite scenery, giving yourself a mental and physical break to regroup and relax before once again tackling your next run.
That’s the feeling of riding the new base-to-base gondola that connects two expansive valleys within the 6,000 acre Palisades Tahoe — the shining jewel of Lake Tahoe and now, the largest ski resort in California. The resort’s yearly ski seasons are one of the longest in Lake Tahoe, often lasting up to 6 months due to the area’s higher elevation and its expansive snowmaking capabilities. Olympic Valley, home of the resort, boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year.
The much-anticipated base-to-base gondola has been years in the making, starting as a vision by the resort’s original owners decades ago. Thousands of hours have gone into its planning, development and construction, resulting in an engineering marvel with 96 cabins that can transport up to 1,400 people in a single hour, traveling 2.4 miles in only 16 minutes. As the resort’s longest lift, it connects The Village at Palisades Tahoe to the Alpine Lodge, with a mid-station stop at the famous KT-22 — known as the “mothership” to many expert skiers and boarders including famous frequenters such as Olympic Gold Medalist and freestyle skier Jonny Moseley — and is a game changer for all visitors wanting unparalleled access to a variety of terrains.
The new gondola begins service on December 17 with an all-day grand opening celebration, including a ribbon cutting, live music at both base areas, mountain guide tours, giveaways, fireworks and more.
A highlight of the 2022-23 ski season will take place in February, when world-class ski racers from around the world will descend on Palisades Tahoe for the 2023 Audi FiS Ski World Cup. Race events are scheduled for February 24 through 26 and include men’s slalom and giant slalom, with the course running along Dog Leg and Red Dog Face (the same course used in 2017 for the World Cup women’s alpine event, which was described by Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin as “one of, if not the, toughest” course on the circuit.) Race fans will be able to cheer on the pros from the base area, plus see outdoor concerts and fireworks throughout the weekend.
During the off-season, the team at Palisades Tahoe has been hard at work making upgrades to other resort amenities, including transforming its Red Dog Lift to a high-speed, six seater variety with a new base terminal that offers direct access from the parking lot; expanding the Funitel Plaza located at the base of the Village; and reworking the foot traffic flow of Alpine Lodge that will make breezeway access to the mountain easier through expansion of the lodge’s sun deck and surrounding snow beach. The resort’s transportation partner, Mountaineer, has also added several new routes to its free service throughout Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows.
Fun Fact: Palisades Tahoe is the only ski resort in North America that operates a tram, funitel and gondola all on the same property. What’s the difference between these three transportation modes? Find out here.