US Trip

nthnbeachesguy

Hard Yards
Nov 18, 2011
53
69
68
42
Sydney
Hi ppl, been lurking around reading bits and pieces mostly on the BC side of the site as it is an ambition of mine to have a go at the MR sometime. Anyway I have some questions for those of you with experience in the US.

My girlfriend and I have been trying to decide on a trip, at first it was between US and Japan but we have kinda settled on the US for now for a variety of reasons. We have basically given ourselves from 22 Dec to 4 Jan over there as we both have enforced leave over Xmas and will be flying into LA. My girlfriend likes snowboarding but isn't as keen on it as I am so even though I would be happy to spend the whole time on the mountain it would be kinda selfish.

Firstly, has anyone ever done the Cali/Nevada mountains in an RV style motorhome? It is kinda attractive in the cost dept but I am a little concerned it will be a bit of a pain on the way up the hill. I notice that you can park your RV at Kirkwood for $25 a night and I imagine the other resorts might have similar amenities.

If we don't get the RV I was considering getting a small SUV and doing LA to Tahoe and stay in a hotel in the south lake area, ski for 6-7 days then do San Fran for a day or two and then slowly head back to LA.

The gf is keen to have a look at Vegas, personally I think Tahoe will have enough casino action for my taste but if we went there I think that would cancel any hope of using an RV, I cant imagine there are many places to park an RV near the strip and stay overnight. I think we will do either Vegas or San Fran but not both, too much driving.

I guess my questions are would you bother with an RV even if it meant saving a bit of extra coin?

Is there much to see and do off the mountain in Tahoe?

Which would be more interesting San Fran and Cali coastline or Vegas?

I surf but it's winter up there and don't want to lug snow and surf gear around so not worried about surfing over there.

Also as a snowboarder who likes small to mid size terrain parks and natural features, which Tahoe resorts would be best, my original thoughts are Heavenly, Kirkwood and Squaw but I could be mistaken.

Any help would be appreciated, proving to be tough to make a decsion!
 

sunpeaker

Hard Yards
Sep 10, 2011
39
16
58
69
Sydney Australia
RV may be convenient for accommodation if you can get it cheap enough. Plenty of RV parking including ski resorts & also no problem in Las Vegas. Some of the casinos have RV parking. Depends on how flexible you want to be & how much driving you want to do. I would not miss NYE in Vegas!!!. Also Mammoth may be a better option if you decide to do Vegas. A possible itinerary is.... LA to SFO via Coast then on to Tahoe 2 days Squaw, 2 days Heavenly, 2days Mammoth, Las Vegas for NYE & a few days R&R before heading back home. Or just Mammoth & Vegas.
 

BearExtreme1000

First Runs
Jul 19, 2009
47
0
0
35
NSW
second what sunpeaker said, there are casinos that have RV parking. So at heavenly/stateline you can RV in carparks there. and in vegas there again. haven't been to mammoth but heard its awesome. vegas naturally is awesome. SFO isn't that nice right now and the bay won't be super awesome mid winter. there is some cool scenery along the way but ok yes maybe 2 days is ok in SFO 1 to walk the sights and 1 to shop but Vegas kills SFO.

And Northstar is like the park capital of North America - Shaun White is there for the season.
Squaw is an amazing resort.
Kirkwood just gets puked on even when it seems to miss a lot of the other south lake tahoe resorts so if its a powder day definitely keep that on your list.

Sierra at Tahoe is a cool fun/little hill as well. not super aggressive but seems like a lot of boarders there and it might be more your girlfriends cup of tea, not super intimidating.

Heavenly in my opinion is a little generic. and will be packed around that christmas/NYE week. but it does have heaps of terrain and plenty of park options.

do the coast drive. maybe stay in malibu after a day in LA (in the RV - there is a cool park on the beach - minimal amenities and then starting from malibu will give you a good headstart up through big sur/monterey)
 

StuckinQld

One of Us
Jun 28, 2009
921
298
163
Hunter Valley / Newcastle ish
Just check if your rental rv is winterised and note what difference that may make to your travel plans. We decided against an rv for our 2 weeks of travels since having it winterized (basically no water) really reduced it's usefulness for our purposes.
 

sly_karma

Green Bastard
Ski Pass
Dec 12, 2005
22,542
16,789
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Penticton, BC
Look carefully to make 100% sure you can have somewhere to park overnight in that RV at the resorts. As the above posdt mentions, you'll have no water so will need to arrange for showers elsewhere. Thirdly, are you sure you want to drive an unfamiliar, topheavy, bulky, rear wheel drive vehicle on mountain roads without snow tires? Worse, most rental RVs have dually rear ends, traction not good at all unless chains fitted. Balance this off with flexibility and straightforward driving down in the low country on the majority of the trip. If it wasn't for the fact that you're looking at Christmas hols when accoms will be fairly booked up, I'd say it's a waste of money and potentially dangerous. Most other times of the season you can rock up and find rooms on snow in most resorts, but the hols - especially NYE - can be tricky.
 

vet

One of Us
Dec 8, 2009
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186
www.angliss.edu.au
There's a few rv parks, eg

Camp Richardson
http://www.recreationintahoe.com
Zephyr Cove
carson valley inn and rv park
topaz lodge at topaz lake


near mammoth: pine cliff resort silver lake rresort june lake rv park

Have a look at affordable casinos like Grand Sierra or Tahoe Biltmore

Happy hunting.
 
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nthnbeachesguy

Hard Yards
Nov 18, 2011
53
69
68
42
Sydney
Thanks for all the info, good to hear some opinions on it. I have been trying to find RV rental that is I guess you would call it fully winterized that allows showers and toilets etc. Apparently there is such an animal, they have insulation and heating for the water tanks and pipes so you can still have normal water facilities but buggerd if I can find anyone that rents them.

The ability to shower is a non negotiable item with the GF, I can understand that as well so it's leaning more towards the hire car hotel option. There still appears to be plenty available in south lake for reasonable dollars. I was thinking of hiring an suv with 4wd, do you need to ask for snow tyres to be fitted or is 4wd enough over there?
 

mjmmjm

First Runs
Apr 28, 2009
302
0
0
nthnbeachesguy said:
The ability to shower is a non negotiable item with the GF, I can understand that as well so it's leaning more towards the hire car hotel option. There still appears to be plenty available in south lake for reasonable dollars. I was thinking of hiring an suv with 4wd, do you need to ask for snow tyres to be fitted or is 4wd enough over there?
4wd is better than no 4wd and there is no real need for snow tyres (if you are hiring from LA i wouldnt even think that snow tyres were an option) but I would definately enquire about snow tyre chains. Even with 4wd it is not easy to drive in snowy conditions especially if you're not experienced so some chains will make it much easier.
 
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nthnbeachesguy

Hard Yards
Nov 18, 2011
53
69
68
42
Sydney
Got back from our trip a couple of days ago, we were there from the 23-12 till 2-1, not a huge amount of time but good enough. Flew into LAX, got a Jeep 4wd hire car and drove from LAX to Tahoe that day, was a bit of a stretch after the overnight flight with basically zero sleep but managed it ok.

Our accom was in Stateline, very basic and cheap but was enough and was really close he casinos and shops. We did 1 day at Heavenly, a dat at Kirkwood, a day at Sierra and 2 days at Northstar, Northstar was my favourite by far.

All the resorts were struggling for snow, really bad start over there but they keep the parks in good condition which was good fun. We bailed aftre that down to mammoth for a day there which wasn't much chop, really windy and bad coverage as well. After that we did Big Bear in southern CA which had the best coverage of the lot suprisingly and a setup that I wish they would emulate here in our resorts, so much park everywhere, they have over 200 features all over the place which was amazing and the snow on the ground in the town made you think you were really in a ski resort.

Heres a few pics and a short vid of some of the trip.

Northstar
PC280048.jpg


Northstar
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Northstar
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Ice Hockey on Caples Lake on the way to Kirkwood I think
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Sierra
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Sierra
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Me at the top of Big Bear
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Big Bear
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Big Bear
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A short vid of Mammoth Baby park (was out of the wind), the bigger kicker is Northstar park and the point of view is a most of a top to bottom run at Big Bear
http://vimeo.com/34593535
 
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nthnbeachesguy

Hard Yards
Nov 18, 2011
53
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42
Sydney
The temp isnt a problem in Tahoe, its cold for sure, just way too much sunshine and not enough snow. Guys were using chainsaws to cut through the ice to make fishing holes so it was plenty thick.
 

skiflat

Old n' Crusty
Aug 10, 1999
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Welcome to the Forums and thanks so much for the pics
biggrin.gif
 
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nthnbeachesguy

Hard Yards
Nov 18, 2011
53
69
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Sydney
From what I can gather tahoe itself is over 6000ft in elevation and at a guess Caples Lake is around 8000ft so freezing levels arent a problem. Big Bear Lake is frozen as well but doesn't hit low enough temps to allow it to freeze sufficiently to walk on, you can throw fist size rocks on it and they punch through. How do I know this? The ten yr old boy in me made me try it ha ha!
 

'H' Jones

One of Us
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Jun 24, 2008
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thanks for the report and posting the pics
smile.gif
 
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skiflat

Old n' Crusty
Aug 10, 1999
37,433
1,502
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Big Bear Tahoe

That's the place I stayed at when I was about 10 years old

I remember being left in the cabin we had rented while Mum & Dad went out to dinner

laugh.gif
 
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tr+h

One of Us
Jun 19, 2008
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Perth,wa
nice work. I want to do something similar next xmas.

PS. how much of the snow was man-made?
 

nthnbeachesguy

Hard Yards
Nov 18, 2011
53
69
68
42
Sydney
TR+H most of it would have been man made I would say as mostly off piste was either bare or had a thin cover, anything south facing was basically completely bare. Big Bear had a lot of snow everywhere, more than anywhere else we went but still on south facing side of the mountain was completely bare, you just can't have no snow for 6 weeks and blazing sunshine everyday and expect to keep coverage!
 
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