“Power This Economic Engine”: Snow is big business for Lake Tahoe

Palisades Tahoe reported receiving 14 feet of fresh snow in January.
Deployed/Palisade Tahoe

OLYMPIC VALLEY, California – Lift lines are long and businesses are taking advantage of Lake Tahoe’s abundant snowfall.

With lots of snow falling into the basin from a series of storms in December and January, ski resorts are seeing tons of skiers and drivers having to deal with difficulties head-on.

Palisades Tahoe has been seeing great business since recent storms slowed and is trying to urge people to come midweek to avoid longer lines and delayed waits.

“Now that the storms have calmed down a bit, people can come up here,” said Patrick Lacey, Palisades’ public relations manager. “We really want to get people to ski during the week. Take a sick day here and there because obviously parking can be a problem here…or, if you’re coming at the weekend, come early and stay late. Stay at the Village, come early, have breakfast here, you know you’ll have a much more enjoyable day if you do that.”

Lift lines were long at Northstar over the bank holiday weekend with many long waits.
Provided/Kierra Keller

Sara Roston, Heavenly Mountain Resort’s Director of Communications, reported that Vail Resorts work tirelessly to provide every guest on the mountain with a great experience while facing challenges during periods of heavy snowfall.

“The Heavenly team has been working day and night to recover from the weather-related challenges,” Roston said. “In particular, we experienced a power outage on the Nevada side of the mountain which resulted in some unusual operational difficulties this holiday season.”

The outage disabled three elevators, leaving California Main Lodge as the only point of access throughout the holiday weekend, and resulted in massive traffic and parking problems, the Tribune previously reported. Fortunately, power has been restored and services have continued on the mountain.

The large storms and large numbers of people visiting the basin come in waves and depend on the weather and advice from authorities around the basin.

Heavenly team members were busy excavating the Tamarack lift and others after heavy snowfall.

“When a storm hits, most travelers have taken the advice of Caltrans, NDOT and Highway Patrol on road conditions to monitor and delay travel until it is safe,” said Carol Chaplin, President and CEO of Lake Tahoe Visitor Authorities. “When the roads have been cleared and it’s safer and easier to get here, winter enthusiasts have enjoyed the powder snow conditions.”

Although the Visitors Authority has not compiled formal statistics for South Lake Tahoe, it has communicated with the lodging, restaurants and attractions here in the basin and is aware that there may be temporary disruption during peak periods, during post-holiday periods due to snow creating ideals conditions in the mountains.

“While the storm was here, there was a temporary blow,” said Carl Ribado, president and chief strategist of SMG Consulting. “Typical [tourism is] burdened while we are lashed and dug up by snow and so on. But I think it helps in the long run of the winter. People know we have great outdoor recreation conditions, so it’s a short-term hit. But one hopes that one can make amends over the course of the winter season.”

The benefits of heavier snowfall in winter are longer winter seasons for outdoor recreation.

“It’s a balance,” Ribaudo said. “We really don’t have a choice”

Many are looking forward to a longer ski season this winter.

“We believe the prospects for a longer ski season are so positive that we are placing our bets on it and announcing a midweek spring ski accommodation offer on Friday 27 January,” said Siobhan Kenney, Director of Sustainable Tourism at Visit Truckee-Tahoe. “By contrast, we know from past great winters that longer ski resort hours have a positive impact on revenue for Truckee’s local businesses, retailers and restaurants.”

Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar all report that staffing at their resorts is not an issue right now, but Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau President and CEO Andy Chapman said some resorts are still trying to get their teams started .

“There are definitely still labor and labor issues,” Chapman said. “But I think companies are very adaptable. They’re looking at different ways they’re planning and executing shared days off where in the past the store was open seven days a week and now it might just be open six or five days a week… The storms are helping to drive that economy engine here in the winter for Tahoe.”

Tourism in the Basin is always a topic of conversation and was particularly so after Lake Tahoe was placed on Fodor’s 2023 No List of Places to Visit due to an overcrowding/crowding issue.

While the list’s name might suggest that tourists shouldn’t visit the area, Chapman reiterated that it’s important to teach visitors how to visit responsibly, rather than telling visitors to stay away.

“We always make sure we’re spreading accurate, real-time information about what’s going on up here,” Chapman said. “We post on our social channels and our websites about any type of storm warning and road report links because it is important that both our guests coming off a ride and our fly market guests know what is happening. ”

In addition to providing accurate information to tourists, Chapman and the other travel agencies in the basin provided an opinion piece to the grandstand, which outlined how to practice being a steward when visiting the pool.

Some of the ways travelers can help are by using the free public transportation available throughout the basin, including TART and TART Connect on the North Shore, Lake Link on the South Shore, and Mountaineer in Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows.

Being a steward also means leaving Lake Tahoe better than you found it by disposing of trash properly, choosing reusable products over single-use plastic, and being mindful and respectful of the environment.

For more information about traveling to Lake Tahoe, visit visitlaketahoe.com/destination-update or http://www.gotahoenorth.com/sustainable-travel-pledge.