South Lake Tahoe: How To Stay Warm In The Mountains

Some of my favorite winter memories take place in Lake Tahoe, California, where the temperature is often below 32ºF.


No matter what your plans are as you head up to the mountains this winter, you can find fun and creative ways to keep the cold from affecting your holiday spirits! Some of my favorite winter memories take place in Lake Tahoe, California, where the temperature is often below 32ºF. I am, however, still able to enjoy every moment, both indoors and outdoors. Whether your vacation means hitting the slopes, playing in the snow, or just watching the snow fall, the chilly mountain air does not have to put a damper on your mountain agenda.

For many people, my family included, a weekend in Tahoe often means at least one full day of skiing or snowboarding. It is always fun to look cute at the ski resorts, but I promise that having the right amount of clothing on can make or break your day. In planning your ski outfit, it is absolutely essential that you pack layers. This means a comfortable sleeveless undershirt, a turtleneck, a warm fleece, and a heavy weatherproof jacket for your upper half. For your legs, I recommend a pair of long underwear or fleece leggings and snow-proof ski pants. If you are one of those people who tend to be cold, maybe add another layer. Also, always have a really warm pair of gloves and something fleece to cover your face and head. Try on your ski/board boots in advance with at least one pair of warm wool socks to make sure they fit comfortably.


Now that you have this impressive assortment of apparel, use the weather report to get a prediction– not a guarantee -of what weather you’ll be facing on the big day. If it is going to be warm (ok, we’re talking low 40ºs), there is a very good chance you will heat up quickly and will want to lose the fleece or the turtleneck. Plan accordingly. Have a place to stash this layer, or leave it in your car and brave that first cold chairlift ride with the knowledge that you will warm up on the way down. If it is blizzard-ing out, no worries! As long as you have something to cover that vulnerable chin area, you have enough layers to keep you cozy while you enjoy the fresh powder. You can even buy heating pads for your hands and feet at various stores and resorts. And of course, make sure to take a hot chocolate break. Your hands and your taste buds will thank you.

Even if you don’t ski, there are plenty of activities to keep you moving so you can enjoy the winter wonderland without letting the cold get to you. For some of these pastimes, all you need is an open field or a somewhat steep hill. I promise, a snowball fight or an hour of sledding is one of the most fun sources of exercise, regardless of your age. If you are willing to invest in more time and equipment, a cross-country ski trip will let you explore an undoubtedly beautiful area while getting a serious workout. You will be sweating instead of freezing. If you choose this type of adventure, be sure to know your course so you don’t get lost. Aim for more flexible sweats and a lighter waterproof layer of clothing. Again, finishing your day off with a hot chocolate is always encouraged.

Of course, no matter how much fun there is to be had out in the snow, a day of embracing the serenity of the mountain atmosphere from inside a cabin or lodge is vastly underrated. Sitting on the couch and watching the snow fall from the sky is, admittedly, one of my favorite things to do in the wintertime. One way to go about this type of relaxation is to find a coffee shop with good coffee and pastries, manageable crowds, and a big window to watch the snow through. You can use this place to read a book, sip a hot drink, or simply hang out with a companion. My local favorite is the Tahoe House in Tahoe City, but you might find your own quaint retreat wherever you reside. Once again, you are going to want layers, but this time bring a scarf, a cozy jacket to face the chilly walk from your house or car, and a lighter shirt to compensate for the undoubtedly well-heated indoors. You can also take in the winter sights from the comfort of your home in the mountains. Here, the dress code is up to you: I strongly recommend a pair of your most comfortable socks and a blanket, with minimal concern about how cute your outfit is. If possible, it is important to have a warm fire, stock up on soup and hot beverages, and keep your ears open for when the heaters come on so you can sit by them. A classic movie (or three) is always a plus. And of course, I recommend a peppermint hot chocolate.

Kaela Trutner

A California native, Kaela lived in Barcelona, Spain. Her travel style consists of two clichés: carpe diem, but stop to smell the roses. One person she wants to travel with: Tina Fey.

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