Celebrating A Culture and Family Dedicated To Pushing The Sport Forward

Kirkwood CA 2022, Following a successful1960 Squaw Olympics, and the emergence of the American ski culture popularity, the El Dorado National Forest surveyed potential regional winter sports development sites. In the 1960s, with short skis and other innovations, skiing, in general, was getting easier. The 1960s saw the first surge of extensive grooming and snowmaking, and the success of American skiing in the Olympics led to a rise in cultural enthusiasm for the sport.

Kirkwood was a location of interest and discussions of making Kirkwood a possible winter sports site were intriguing. The display of interest was not surprising, and in several ways, Kirkwood was the most eye-catching of the areas studied. First, it is a large and handsome alpine meadow, surrounded on three sides by spectacular slopes, making the whole a vast natural arena. 

Pictures from the first surveys showed that Kirkwood was designed for skiing by the mountain itself. Natural slide areas on the slopes added to a vision that would become one of America’s Iconic Deep Power Vertical Ski resorts.

The Kirkwood Ski Resort opened in 1972 with four chairlifts. That could get approx.. 1100 people an hour up the mountain with a vertical rise of 1200 feet. From its inception, Kirkwood has fostered a skiing culture that would push the boundaries of the sport, encourage free culture and capture the spirit of the skiing community. in 2012 Kirkwood was Purchased by Vail resorts and its investment first into the Lifts and structure on the mountain and then into its people have made all the difference in what has become a Sierra favorite for the ski community. From the trained patrol staff that live one the mountain to identify safety issue to the crews that shovel out the parking areas, lifts and dining areas, the team at Kirkwood is excited to be hosting its 50th year celebration in 2022, in what some are calling a celebration of “back to normal”.

50th Anniversary

Kirkwood celebrates 50 years of skiing and riding this year. The Kirkwood community has strong ties to this mountain, and celebrating its rich history is sure to have everyone reminiscing of deep winter’s past.  Kirkwood has always been know for its steep slope filled with powder. From a birds eye view you can actually see that most all the lift areas are designed in traditional slide areas created by the mountain itself. But it is the ski community that makes Kirkwood legendary. As skiing has advanced the ability of riders to shape the future of the mountain is still being seen today. carving lines across the ridges in places that would not even have been imagined 50 years ago.

Kirkwood opened on November 12 for the 22-23 ski season after a great November winter storm dropped over 3 feet of fresh powder.

“Opening weekend was so much fun, as the Kirkwood family seemed just to enjoy hanging out on the mountain all weekend, catching up with old friends and visualizing the great ski season ahead, says Dennis Baggett, communications Director at Kirkwood and long-time resident skier of the mountain.”

Discover Kirkwood

Where the steep and deep produces hair-raising cliff drops, bumps, and open bowls ensure your legs feel like Jell-O when lifts close. Every day at Kirkwood is a chance to choose your adventure. With 2,300 acres of terrain and over 2,000 feet of vertical, Kirkwood is truly an outdoor playground packed with thrills. The rugged terrain and prolific deep snowpack beckon shredders for steep lines they won’t soon forget. Sitting on top of the Sierra Crest as it does, it’s easy to have an annual snowfall of over 600 inches.

Kirkwood offers a variety of trails for all abilities. Chair 6 is the access point for both Sentinel and Palisades Bowl. Chair 2 is the access point to the backside of the mountain.

“”Kirkwood has a foundational culture that beckons the freeride community in skiing. An exciting culture that seems to be constantly pushing the edge is a way of life on the mountain,”” says Baggett

Backcountry Skiing history is also rich at Kirkwood, with well-monitored side country access in multiple locations around the mountains and a fantastic nordic and snowshoe track on the north side of the highway that leads into some beautiful country.

A Slope for Every Skill Level

Are you a beginner? Check out the Timber Creek area for various blue and green runs, which are great for learning.

You may be an expert. Then, don’t forget to ride our famous Chair 10, The Wall, for access to some of the most incredible terrain Kirkwood offers.

The skiing and riding in the Timber Creek base area offer an ideal place to progress your skills and enjoy perfect groomers, moderately-pitched tree runs, and small gullies. 

What to Expect on the Mountain in 22-23

For this historic season, Kirkwood looks forward to a return to normal after three seasons of “weird” there are several fantastic events planned for the community at Kirkwood.

December 17 – Kirkwood 50th Anniversary Kickoff

December 31 – NYE Torchlight Parade and Fireworks

March 18 – Banked Slalom

April 15 – Pond Skim

April 22 – Rail Jam

Kirkwood Skier
Kirkwood_Skier Dennis_ Thimble Peak_ by Steve Seime

Here are a few other quick things Kirkwood has set up for the upcoming season: 

Kirkwood has taken several steps to improve the parking experience on peak days. Including adding spots in the Upper 7 lot and along Loop Road, as well as some paid-carpool initiatives that will make the VIP lot and Village lot free if you have four people or more in your car, starting in December.

Family Learning Zone

 Timber Creek’sCreek’s secluded location, natural fall lines, kids’ adventure area, slow zones, and dedicated chairlifts make it one of the top places to learn to ski. At Timber Creek, natural “enhanced teaching terrain” in green gullies helps build skills and progress those newer to the sport. In addition, the ideal location of Timber Creek naturally separates ability levels, as advanced skiers and riders do not use the dedicated base, and sets families and learners up to quickly rent gear, sign up for classes and be on the mountain together.

The Return of The Sunrise Grill

A Locals favorite for sitting at the mountain’s base and chilling with friends and family. The sunrise Grill is Located on the backside of the mountain quick stop for skiers and riders who want to stay on the slopes. Across the Mountain, Dining is so much easier this season. Whether you’re warming up or fueling up with a full meal, there will be no vaccine, mask, or reservation requirements at all dining outlets and lodges. Reservations are still recommended for our popular full-service locations, including Kirkwood Inn.

Sense of Community

 When you ski or ride at Kirkwood, you’re immediately part of a close-knit community. Generations of locals have called this mountain home, taught their kids to ski and ride here, and reveled in deep winters of epic powder. If you want to know where the best lines are, just ask. Pride of place runs deep, and there is always room for new members.

Banked Slalom

Kirkwood’s 28th Annual Banked Slalom is back again! Day one will be for the kids and families, while day two is for the adults. Held in Snow Snake Gully, this event is a staple for the mountain and the community. Test your skills against some of the best locals and see who comes out fastest. Not participating? Make sure you’re at the finish line to cheer on your favorite racer through the bottom.

New Year’s Eve Celebration

 A family-friendly staple everyone looks forward to, we ring in the New Year with a torchlight run from the top of chair 5. The kids love being a part of this special parade, and the adults love the chance to socialize in Kirkwood Village.

Kirkwoods Signature Programs

JETS: JETS is a season-long, team-driven program for both skiers and snowboarders where athletes demonstrate dramatic improvement in their skiing/riding by the season’s end. In December, each new participant is evaluated to help guide team placement from the start of the season. They then ski/ride weekly throughout the season with world-class coaching to ensure that every child realizes their maximum potential. As a result, parents will see their children achieving new goals on the mountain and before they know it, even surpassing them with their abilities.

Freeride Program: The Kirkwood Freeride teams are an extension of the JETS program for those that wish to compete in Junior Big Mountain freeride events. These programs focus on big mountain riding with a competitive outcome, developing the necessary skills to ride and compete at that high level. Kirkwood is the perfect training ground and we saw some incredible results during the 2021-22 season.

Expedition Kirkwood: Expedition Kirkwood is for the avid adventurer looking to explore Kirkwood on a more intimate level. At Kirkwood, our unique terrain offers lift access to backcountry opportunities within our resort boundaries, providing the perfect backdrop for our range of specialty clinics, private guides and backcountry awareness offerings. Beyond Kirkwood’s boundaries, you’ll find infamous terrain featured in many ski and snowboard flicks. Backcountry, inbound or out of bounds, Kirkwood’s landscape is in a class of its own!



Publisher of Sierra Rec Magazine. An avid hiker and explorer of mountain lifestyle and adventure. I love to discover new trails, hike along rivers and hang a hammock along the shores of a mountain lake. I often great people on the trail and have found some of my favorite places from the advice of people I meet in the Wilderness. I love the sierra and just like sharing what I know.

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