Budget Ski Trips 2009
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ALPINE MEADOWS, CALIFORNIA
Annual snowfall: 365 inches
Vertical drop: 1,802 feet
Skiable acres: 2,400
One-day lift ticket: $64
Perfect for: Spring skiers. Alpine has one of the longest seasons in the valley, often operating well into May.
Why here: Alpine is the anti-Squaw: It shares a ridgeline with the Tahoe superstar, but it's utterly unpretentious, and lift tickets here are some of the cheapest in the valley. It's also gorgeous, with the area's best views of the lake (sorry, Heavenly). While many resorts tout the "something for everyone" cliché, it happens to be true at Alpine. Experts find plenty of goods in the chutes and bowls north of the Summit Six Express: From the top, it's a ten-minute hike to the Double Black Diamond Beaver Bowl, but trust us, it's worth it. Intermediates love the blue cruisers off the Roundhouse quad because they can challenge themselves without being scared silly. And groups of skiers with mixed abilities can all ride up the lift together, separate to ski different terrain, and then meet up at the bottom for another lift ride.
The highlight: Dinner at Christy Hill. It's not Tahoe City's most renowned restaurant, but it is one of the best. The elegant dining room is perched above the lake—be sure to catch the sunset—and prices on the no-fuss menu won't make you want to jump overboard. (Try the pan-seared wild king salmon with cracked pepper in a cabernet demi-glace.)
Sleep for cheap: There's not much in the way of lodging at Alpine's base, but there are plenty of options ten minutes away in Tahoe City. If you don't mind rustic, camp-style cabins, try the Tamarack Lodge: The price—$150 for a two-bedroom with a full kitchen, even on weekends—will help you see past the tacky comforters.