Sugar Bowl

Snow experiences that are really sweet

  • Details: As a family-run business, Sugar Bowl is a rarity in an industry that increasingly is dominated by large corporations. It has been owned and operated by Californians ever since it opened in 1939, and today’s owners have deep roots at the resort. Sugar Bowl also offers skiers and snowboarders living in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area the shortest drive from their homes to the slopes.
  • New for 2012-13: Sugar Bowl this season started operating the Royal Gorge cross-country ski area, which encompasses 6,000 acres of land and has more than 200 kilometers of trails. The two Donner Summit resorts already are linked via an “interconnect trail” that allows skiers to go back and forth between them.
  • Best lift deal: Purchase a $19 CORE pass and get $15 off the price of a lift ticket every day of the season, plus direct-to-lift convenience and rewards points on every qualifying dollar spent at the resort. CORE pass holders also get $10 off trail tickets at Royal Gorge Cross Country.
  • Snowmaking: On 500 acres, about one third of the resort’s terrain.
  • After dark: Night snowboarding, but not skiing.
  • Hidden gem: Strawberry Fields, on the western flank of the resort overlooking the scenic Van Norden Meadow and the Royal Gorge XC Resort. “It requires a little navigation to reach, but the reward is well worth the effort,” said Krystal Tingle, resort spokeswoman. “Strawberry Fields offers a run that few people actually ski, meaning it holds snow long after a storm, and it drops through a scenic forest that makes for a truly memorable run.”
  • Spotted last season: Daron Rahlves, the most decorated American downhill and Super G skier in history and namesake to the Rahlves Banzai Tour. Sugar Bowl is Rahlves’ home mountain when he’s not traveling, and this winter the resort will host the finals of the Rahlves Banzai Tour 2013.
  • Address, phone, website: 629 Sugar Bowl Road, Donner, CA; 530-426-9000,
  • Social connections: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube
  • Where to stay: The Bavarian-style Lodge at Sugar Bowl (530-426-6742), billed as the nation’s only snowbound village, offers classic high-alpine accommodations steps from the Disney lift. Guests park in an underground garage, have their luggage loaded onto a gondola then go for a scenic ride to the lodge. Amenities include a bar, restaurant and spa, and décor embraces the area’s skiing history via many black-and-white photos. Other nearby lodging options include rental homes, and seven properties in Truckee that also sell Sugar Bowl lift tickets, saving a wait in line later at the resort. Free shuttle service between the resort and Truckee is available. Information:
  • Eats at the resort: The Lodge’s full-service restaurant has French-inspired California cuisine from Chef Alan Davis, served in a stunning setting. Specialties include Scottish seared salmon, New Zealand lamb, and a variety of homemade soups.
  • Après-snow hotspot: The Belt Room Bar in the lodge is an inviting place to kick back, enjoy a Bloody Mary, a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or another drink and talk about a great day on the slopes.

— Jerry Rice