Recent winter storms have blanketed local mountains, with snowpack above normal for the first time in three years. The combination of copious snow and some special astronomical events coming up in the first few months of 2016 (hello, Jupiter!) makes the starlit snowshoeing tours local ski resorts have added to their schedules even more exciting.
The California resort offers two nighttime snowshoeing events throughout the remainder of the winter. First up, the Twilight Snowshoe Tour – popular with families – is a 2.5-hour guided tour beginning at 5 p.m. Those in need of equipment may rent snowshoes from the resort for $20 before embarking on a journey that will take them from the Cross Country Ski, Telemark & Snowshoe Center to the Village at Northstar. Leashed pups can join in on the fun as well, which includes s’mores, warm drinks and acoustic, fireside music. Tickets for the Twilight Snowshoe Tours are $54 per adult, and $37 for kids ages 10-12.
Led by “astronomer poet” and president of the Northern Nevada Science Coalition Tony Berensden, Northstar’s Star-Gazing Snowshoe Tour leads visitors on a moderate snowshoe trip through the mountains, where unobstructed views of the night skies await. Berensden, combining poetry with science, entertains and explains what guests see during the laser tour of the sky, and high-powered Celestron telescopes are available for viewing the heavenly bodies up close. The tour concludes at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, where a fire pit, wine and hot cider wait. The Star-Gazing Snowshoe Tour is $61 per adult and $42 for kids aged 10-12, with equipment rentals available beginning at $20.
Berensden also works in conjunction with the Tahoe Adventure Company to host Full Moon Snowshoe Tours. These two to three mile treks through the mountains feature tour guides knowledgeable in the area’s natural history as well as astronomy topics, and include shoes, poles, drinks and snacks. There are five more chances this season to catch a full moon tour, and cost is $65 per person. Reservations can be made by phone at 866-587-1277 or on the Tahoe Adventure Company’s site.
Guests of Kirkwood’s Full Moon Snowshoe Treks are invited to “hoot and howl” at the moon as they join guides on the resort’s monthly guided full moon tour. Groups will meet at the resort’s Cross Country Ski Center at 6 p.m. before taking off on the moonlit snowshoe adventure. Adults and children 10 and up are $35, with an additional $5 for equipment rental. Reservations are required for the remaining two treks of the season (Jan. 23 and Feb. 20) and can be made by calling the Cross Country Center at 209-258-7248.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
An Alps-inspired menu is the reward after taking the Moonlit Snowshoe Tour at Squaw Valley. Guests will meet at the Alpine Meadows Base Lodge and make their way to the mid-mountain chalet, where a dinner of hearty dishes like potato cheese soup and chicken cordon bleu await them. Reservations are limited to 50 guests per dinner, which runs three times a night during select dates throughout the rest of the winter. For more information or procure tickets ($69 per adult and $35 for children younger than 9), call 800-403-0206.