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Olympic Valley owes its name to the 1960 Winter Games, which shaped the unincorporated town and surrounding countryside. Chosen for its enviable location in the Sierra Nevada mountains, roads, bridges, and an electric grid were constructed and the Olympic Valley’s resort developed to accommodate world-class skiers and other athletes who slalomed down the hills that year. Today Olympic Valley is a bustling hub for visitors from all over the globe who want to travel in the tracks of those Olympians, exploring more than 3,600 acres of skiable terrain at one major ski resort and an additional 2,400 acres and more than 100 trails at the other. After a day on the slopes, snow bunnies descend on the Olympic Valley, where you can quaff wines at an upscale bistro or nachos and beer on an outdoor patio, rent gear, and stock up on warm weather duds. Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe National Forest are nearby, making Olympic Valley an all-season destination with hiking and waterfront fun during warm months.
Fly into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO), located in Nevada and about an hour’s drive from Olympic Valley. Once you’re on the ground the North Lake Tahoe Express shuttle will get you the rest of the way there, or you can grab a rideshare, taxi, or rental car. Locally, the Squaw Alpine Shuttle and the Mountaineer Shuttle Service are options for getting around ski areas during winter without a car. TART regional transit buses run between Olympic Valley and nearby Truckee and Tahoe. If you’re traveling during warmer months, consider renting a car to see the most of the surrounding area.
Winter is Olympic Valley’s peak season, with visitors flowing in and out of town at a steady clip. Hundreds of inches of snowfall during ski season, which stretches from November to May — and sometimes beyond. That means spring can look a lot like winter here. In the spring the town celebrates bluegrass and roots music at the three-day WinterWonderGrass Festival. The summer months bring sunny days ideal for hiking or swimming. In July, yogis arrive for the Wanderlust festival, which offers meditation, downward dogs, and pool parties. The forests around the valley are filled with evergreens, but there are still opportunities for leaf peeping, as aspen trees turn gold in the fall.
In between ski runs, pop into this museum that honors the event that built this town. Exhibits include such memorabilia as a hockey stick and puck from the 1960 Winter Games, and a five-minute film showcasing highlights from that year’s competitions. Admission is free with a Aerial Tram ticket, so you’ll get a nice view on the way.
Located less than 15 minutes away is one of the country’s largest lakes. Lake Tahoe is a recreational heavyweight, offering boating, fishing, diving, and swimming on and in its vast, clear waters. One of its unique attractions is a circa-1929 Scandinavian-inspired estate called Vikingsholm, accessible by boat or a one-mile trail. Tours are offered for a fee during summer months.
This half-day hike packs a scenic punch: You’ll walk past granite boulders and soaring conifer trees before ending at pristine Shirley Lake, with shores framed by forests set against a mountain backdrop. You can pick up the trailhead in town for this 5.6-mile out-and-back hike.