Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe may not be as well-known as nearby Squaw Valley or Heavenly Resort, but particularly in low-snow years, the Nevada ski area is worth a visit. With the Tahoe region’s highest base at a lofty 8,260 feet, Mt. Rose often avoids the rain that accompanies warmer Tahoe storms. Visible from the city of Reno, Nev., the ski area has more than 1,200 skiable acres and a vertical drop of 1,800 feet. Although most of the ski area faces away from Lake Tahoe, a few trails loop around the backside to offer lake views.
Once divided into two independent ski areas named Mt. Rose and Slide Mountain, the layout has three main sections. In addition to the two formerly separate areas, The Chutes opened in 2004. The 200 acres of steep terrain funnel to the Chuter lift that takes skiers and boarders back to the Slide Bowl side of the resort.
While the Lake Tahoe area has suffered through difficult snow years recently, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe has benefitted from its elevation starting above the other ski areas in the region. The summit reaches an elevation of 9,700 feet.
Mt. Rose usually lists its base at 8,260 feet in reference to both the Main Lodge on the west side and Winters Creek Lodge on the Slide Bowl side. In The Chutes, the layout actually dips to an elevation of 7,900 feet. Even at that slightly lower level, the ski area still has the highest base elevation in the Tahoe area by just beating out Kirkwood at 7,800 feet.
Lodging in Reno
Mt. Rose is just a 25-minute drive from Reno, Nev. The city’s casino-hotels provide incredibly inexpensive lodging for less than $50 per night. Unlike most Las Vegas casinos, the Reno casinos still subscribe to the business model of offering cheap hotel rooms to entice gamblers. Several hotel-casinos even offer ski-and-stay packages with Mt. Rose for as little as $79.
“You’ll never find a more affordable ski trip anywhere by using Reno as a lodging base,” said Mike Pierce, marketing director at Mt. Rose. “You can get a room for 40 bucks and it’s a nice room. That’s definitely one of our best assets in being the closest resort to Reno.”
For a ski area that is not a nationally known destination resort, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe has a remarkably efficient lift system. A pair of high-speed six-pack lifts are the major base-to-summit arteries for the layout. The Northwest Magnum 6 near the Main Lodge was installed for the 2000-01 season. The Blazing Zephyr 6 on the Slide Bowl side was added in 2004.
The Chutes offer some of the region’s best expert skiing. Accessible through designated gates, some of the 16 named chutes extend for more than 1,000 vertical feet of serious sustained steepness. The pitch ranges from 40 to 55 degrees. According to Pierce, Fuse and Cardiac Ridge are particularly steep choices.
Around the World
The green “Around the World” trail gives beginners a scenic route with an option to dip into a bit of easy tree skiing. Except for first-timers, most novice skiers should be able to navigate the blue-marked Kit Carson Traverse from the Northwest Magnum 6 or Lakeview lift over to the start of Around the World.
Kids’ Ski School
Many resorts surprisingly do not even offer half-day children’s lessons. For parents wanting their kids to take a lesson but also desiring time to ski together, Mt. Rose’s two-hour lessons work well. The sessions start at 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. Of course, parents can also enroll their children in both sessions for the day.
The Rosebuds ski program for children ages 4-10 costs $97 (or $92 online in advance). The program includes one two-hour group lesson, rental equipment including a helmet for the entire day, and an all-day lift ticket. The similar Rosebuds snowboarding program is for children ages 7-10.