Winter Van Life in Squaw Valley

As we pulled into Squaw Valley for our seventh stop on our Winter Van Life tour, we immediately knew this was a van life town. Just judging from the parking lot of the ski hill, we could tell we would fit in nicely here.

Scenery in Squaw Valley

Driving in from Reno, I-80 to Truckee is a scenic highway drive, with cliffs and rivers captivating your attention in every direction. Turning south from Truckee toward Squaw Valley, the Truckee River winds its way through the valley along the road the entire drive. With the snow beginning to melt, the river rushed full of beautiful blue water.

Skiing Squaw Valley

After being set back on our visit to Squaw Valley multiple times, it’s an understatement to say that we were anxious to get there. Our first attempt to ski the hill was thwarted by a snowstorm that closed I-80 – that same snowstorm dumped feet of snow on the hill, making an epic powder day for those who made it up the mountain before the storm. Our second attempt was cut off thanks to an unexpected work emergency.

Finally making it to Squaw was a triumph in and of itself. Once we got on the hill, it was all worth the wait.

Spring Skiing at Squaw Valley

Spring has officially arrived, and Squaw Valley Ski Resort was no exception. With highs in the mid 50s (F), early morning ice and afternoon slush were the name of the game. The key to Spring skiing is finding that sweet spot between the morning ice and the afternoon slush where the ice has soften just enough to make it ski beautifully. That sweet spot makes the whole day worthwhile.

One thing I’ve always loved about Spring skiing is the people. With the sun shining and the weather starting to warm up, everyone is in a great mood and the atmosphere on the hill is just plain fun. Put away the Outdoor Research shells and Patagonia puffies, and break out the Unicorn onesies, Disco T-shirts, and short shorts. Spring skiing attire is whatever your heart desires – choose your own adventure!  

- Winter Van Life in Squaw Valley

Where to Camp near Squaw Valley in the Winter

Winter campsites have been tough to come by this entire ski season, and Squaw Valley provided the same challenge. With nearby forestry service campgrounds closed for the winter, our only real option was the Coachland RV Park in Truckee. While we’d heard from a few locals that the parking lot at Squaw allowed overnight parking, the No Overnight Parking signs in the lots begged to differ. During our trip to Squaw, we didn’t find another alternative to camping other than the RV Park. And with nice showers and an on-site laundromat, it wasn’t the worst option!

Best Brews in Truckee

Just around the corner from Coachland RV Park in Truckee is the Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company. For some fantastic brews and great local insight on the area, pull up a chair at the little bar here and make some new friends. The beer is wonderful and the people are even better!

Dog Friendly Hiking at Lake Tahoe

We had gotten several recommendations to hike around Emerald Bay on our way south out of Squaw toward Lake Tahoe. After looking into hikes, we found several that looked incredible – except they didn’t allow dogs! Discouraged and still craving a hike, we found the trail to Cascade Falls was dog friendly, so we jumped on it.

Cascade Falls trail is a short 1.75 mile hike with minimal elevation gain. With early season conditions, however, the snow on the trail was just soft enough to post-hole through. Snowshoes would have been ideal, but unfortunately the straps on our snowshoes became weather rotted and are no good anymore. With only crampons for traction and no snowshoes for weight distribution, we did not make it all the way to the falls. Even so, we all had a great time on the hike and it offered incredible views. I would recommend doing the hike later in the year after more of the snow melts, or bring your snowshoes to make it up the full trail.