By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hitting the slopes
in the 209

The recent pandemic may have put a damper on many seasonal activities, but there’s plenty of winter fun to be had on the slopes this season as 209 resorts are open and ready for business.

“We are looking forward to welcoming our guests back to Kirkwood for another incredible winter of skiing and riding. We plan to open up 100% of terrain for our guests as soon as weather and conditions allow. Personally, I can’t wait to get my first turns of the season,” said Joanna McWilliams, communications manager for Vail Resorts, which includes Kirkwood, Heavenly and Northstar.

Kirkwood, along with other ski resorts across the country, have adapted to COVID-19 concerns with an extensive plan aimed at keeping its guests safe, while enjoying the slopes. Kirkwood’s plan includes a reservation system, face covering requirements, social distancing on chairlifts and gondolas, limited seating at dining areas, additional quick-serve food options and limited enrollment in group ski lessons.

“We are fortunate that our mountain is naturally spacious and that skiing and riding takes place outdoors…We have designed our winter operating plan to do what we feel matters most, help keep guests safe and provide access to great skiing and snowboarding this winter at Kirkwood,” said McWilliams.

Bear Valley Resort is adapting to COVID-19 by urging guests not to gather in its chalet area.

“We’re encouraging our patrons to embrace a true outdoor experience, and to use their car as a home base rather than the chalet building,” said Laura Kiley, marketing director for Bear Valley Resort.

Bear Valley will also institute face covering requirements, enforce spacing between patrons and reduce indoor dining, but they do not pan to require pre-booking at this time.

Kiley and the team at Bear Valley are anticipating a busy 2020-21 winter season, despite the pandemic.

“We think most people are suffering from some cabin fever and we’ve heard from our community that they can’t wait to hit the slopes and enjoy that fresh mountain air,” she said.

“We do anticipate an increase in demand for skiing this year. We expect pass holders will get amazing value from their passes this year. Bear Valley has so much skiable acreage and the ability to move patrons up the mountain very efficiently, so we’re confident that we’ll continue to be able to provide that ‘off the beaten path’ vibe we’re known for, even with increased demand that COVID-19 is driving,” Kiley continued.

While winter sports enthusiasts are used to checking ahead for weather conditions before heading up the mountain, this season it’s also a good idea to check out all the COVID-19 requirements before making your way to your favorite 209 resort. 

209 Ski Resorts


Kirkwood, located south of South Lake Tahoe in the 209, is a true mountain escape. This remote resort features 2,000 feet of vertical drop and over 2,300 acres of terrain ranging from calm, groomed beginner runs to hair-raising cornices and cliffs. Average snowfall at Kirkwood is 354 inches. The resort boasts 86 trails and 15 lifts. The longest trail is 2.5 miles. Base elevation is 7,800 feet and summit is 9,800 feet. The terrain is 12% beginner, 30% intermediate, 38% advances and 20% expert. 


Those seeking adventure can check out the Kirkwood Peaks: 
Covered Wagon (9,565 ft.) — Accessible from Chair 4 on the backside, Covered Wagon Peak kisses the boundary of Kirkwood and provides access to renowned backcountry terrain through a U.S. Forest Service gate.
Thimble Peak (9,805 ft.) — Kirkwood’s tallest peak and easily identifiable by the Cirque, Thimble Peak provides steep pitches and expert terrain.
 The Sisters (9,400 ft.) — The Sisters pack a punch, providing a stretch of notorious chutes and cliff drops that make Kirkwood legendary. Be prepared to go big if you plan to scale this peak.
Glove Rock (9,360 ft.) — Perfect for any expert looking for a steep descent or speedy traverse to powder fields. Glove Rock provides lots of varied terrain and hiking options if you are up for the challenge.
Martin Point (9,249 ft.) — The farthest peak from the Village, but by far the most rewarding. The terrain accessible from Martin Point is pure bliss. For more information on Kirkwood, visit:


Bear Valley, located off Highway 4 in the Stanislaus Forest, is a High Sierra resort only three miles from Lake Alpine and 27 miles from Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Bear Valley has 10 lifts and more than 75 trails across 1,680 skiable acres and a 1,900-foot vertical drop. Twenty-five percent of Bear Valley’s trails are for beginners, 40% for intermediate and 35% are advanced or expert. Bear Valley doesn’t feature slopes, however, as the nearby Bear Valley Adventure Company offers acres of fully serviced cross-country ski trails in the area’s sizeable meadow. Snowmobile rentals offer more vast access to backcountry areas as well as to cabins in town. Most residences in the Village are accessed only by snowmobile in the winter, and once here, cars are an afterthought. For more information about Bear Valley, visit:


Dodge Ridge, located near Pinecrest in Tuolumne County, is the closest ski resort to many Valley locations. The resort features 862 skiable acres and 1,600 ft. vertical drop. Base elevation is 6,600 ft. and summit is 8,200 ft. There are 67 total runs with 12 lifts. Twenty percent of the trails are rated for beginners, 40% intermediate and 40% advanced. Dodge Ridge is celebrating its 70th season this year. The resort was founded in 1950 by the Purdy family and has been owned by the Helm family since 1976. Throughout their decades of ownership, the Helm family has dedicated themselves to the continued growth of Dodge Ridge. The resort as it stands today is a direct result of their commitment to continual growth. Dodge Ridge recommends purchasing all lift tickets, equipment rentals and lessons in advance online this season. For more information about Dodge Ridge, visit: