In our ever-so-busy lives while raising a young family, time is precious, and it can be hard to organize a trip up to Tahoe. So when is the ideal time of the year to make it up to the lake for learning to ski? Average ski seasons in Tahoe generally range from late December through early-middle April. There’s Christmas break, ski week in February, and Spring break in April. What type of snow is the best to learn on and at what time is there powder? All of these factors for when to learn to ski should appeal to various people for different reasons, so let’s break down what works best.
Holidays or not. What is better? During the peak of the season in Christmas Break when the hill is totally packed, or a quiet off-peak weekend in late January. An argument can be made for either. The advantages of going up for a holiday is that you have more of an extended time period to learn and practice then just a regular weekend. It’s essential when learning skiing to do many repetitions of going down the hill while working on your new skills. It gives you the opportunity to do more lessons then you would otherwise, which is crucial for developing into a suitable long-term skier. On the flip side, the issue with going up to Tahoe during the holidays is how insanely busy and packed it gets. There are few roads so the traffic becomes atrocious, and this is only a hundred times worse if it’s storming while that many people are on the roads. During your lessons and on the mountains, it can be crazy trying to navigate the slopes for your first time while there’s zero space for you to ski. Lift lines get longer while it’s packed which slows down your day and lessens the amount of runs you can get in. The benefit to going for a random off peak weekend to learn to ski is that Tahoe is less crowded so there won’t be as bad of traffic to get to the resort and the slopes are wide open, giving you all the space you need to conquer the hill. The only issue with going up for a weekend is you only have 1-2 days for lessons, whereas if you’re up in Tahoe for the holidays you can practice for a week or more straight.
The best conditions for a lesson are soft snow on a sunny day. Powder is very difficult to learn how to ski in, as it requires a more advanced technique that is foreign to beginners. Therefore, when there is a foot of snow it’s not the best day to take your first lesson. Additionally, you want to be comfortable while learning such a foreign sport, so being out in the sun nice and warm vs freezing miserably in a blizzard your first day on skis makes a big difference on shaping your perspective of skiing and may change your long term outlook on if it’s the right sport for you.
So when is the best time of the year in Tahoe to ski in these nice conditions? The answer: you never know. Tahoe is unpredictable and the weather patterns vary so much from year to year. In 2018-19 it dumped feet after feet of snow all Winter straight, and this past season there was very little snow and endless sunny days until the beginning of March when it finally stormed regularly. Therefore, it is unfortunate when trying to make this plans well before a ski season. In general, you will find the perfect conditions to first learn during March and April. Tahoe is known for its legendary Spring skiing, where during these months, there is plenty of snow left over from storms during January and February that is soft and enjoyable in the warm 40 degree weather. A spring blue bird day is such a pure day for you first on skis. Therefore, Spring break can make for an excellent time to learn in early April, as long as there is still snow left over.
The issue with planning on going up for the holidays just because it’s a good time that works for your family is that you cannot predict the weather patterns. Here’s the truth, it’s not the end of the world to go up for a vacation and end up learning in not the ideal weather. You can still have a great time. You shouldn’t let a bit of snowfall and wind deter you from trying it out. Skiing through storms comes with the territory.
A great option for when to make your trip up to Tahoe to learn to ski is to avoid the busy holidays and wait for an off peak weekend, and try and time that weekend with a nice forecast of not too much storming. And to make up for not having the same amount of days to practice as those who go up for the holidays, potentially take a Friday or Monday off and get a third day of lessons or practice in. Holidays or not, there really is never a bad time to go up to beautiful Lake Tahoe!