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The 8 Best Photo Ops In Squaw Valley

Capture stunning, one-of-a-kind photographs at these scenic locations in Squaw Valley, California.

Squaw Valley is the type of place where your camera’s memory card fills in less than a day. There are just so many photographic gems. But if you’re not careful that card will be saturated in redundant, albeit gorgeous, shots.

You can avoid this by using your trip to Squaw Valley as an opportunity to step away from the obvious and stretch your creativity to find a unique way to represent the character of this 6,300-acre region, featuring six peaks that top out at 9,050 feet.

As you peel back the layers of this valley, remember that its pictorial personality is woven with motion, textures, wildlife, weather, sunrises, and an abundance of goggle tan close-ups. You’ll make this personality more dynamic by taking time to absorb how the territory effects you, then snap your shots with that twist in mind. No one can take a photograph just like yours if you first connect with how the moment the photo lives in makes you feel.

While your only limitation in this visually spirited ski town is your imagination, here’s a list of optimal shutter snapping locales to simplify the adventure.

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1. Tram Ride to High Camp

Face of a gray granite rock mountain in Squaw Valley, CA

When this tram drops you 2,000 feet above the valley, you’ll have a giddy trigger finger as your lens gets to know the moutainscapes, creeks and granite rock figures jutting out of the ground. Move slowly in this space, allowing the ever-changing weather to paint shifting scenes while keeping in mind that there’s more to High Camp than landscapes.

Explore the expressions of the determined faces about to ski off an advanced run, the cloud that’s twisting around itself, or maybe the tapestry of sap dripping through the rough bark of a pine tree.

2. Red Dog Ridge

Skier going down Red Dog Ridge at Squaw Valley

At the top of the Red Dog chair lift (if you head to your left off the lift) is the optimal view of Lake Tahoe. Dress warm so you can post up, giving the sun time to highlight different pockets of the terrain, or practice time-lapse photography of skiers trickling off the chair. When you’ve saturated your options at the summit, ski 100 yards down the Lake View run, pausing to capture skiers as they make their initial descent.

3. KT-22 Daredevils

Skier standing on top of KT-22 at Squaw Valley Ski Resort.

If you’re yearning for extreme motion shots, hop on the idolized KT-22 chair that feeds you onto expert terrain speckled with chutes, cliffs and athletes that just might provide you with an award-winning photo.

What’s that? You’d rather lie naked in the snow for thirty minutes than confront a black diamond? Fret not - you can still get the shot. “There’s always more than one way down” is a famous line amongst Squaw ski instructors and speaks to the fact that there is an intermediate route (Saddle) skirting the sea of KT-22 black diamonds.

4. Dawn Patrol

Sunrise from the top of the mountain at Squaw Valley Ski Resort.

There’s a reason sunrise photos have become a cliché - they’re epic. Take the cliché out of this epic cliché by infusing the charisma of Squaw Valley into the rising sun. For example, find the silhouette of a fellow dawn patroller framed by the sunrise, or tromp into the trees and discover how the light filters through the pine needles.

To gain this early mountain access, look into Squaw Valley’s Dawn Patrol program that sells this premiere lift ticket to guests on most Saturdays and select Sundays.

5. Moss on Lakeview and Champs Elysees Runs

Bright green moss on snowy log.

Who knew you could spot nature’s neon amongst sheets of white. Many of the trees in Squaw wear sweaters of moss, providing ideal subjects for a close up or 360 degrees polar panorama.

Choice moss hunting trails are Lakeview and Champs Elysees, but don’t miss the opportunity for a few bird's-eye pics of the moss-sheltered bark on the Squaw Creek or Red Dog lifts that convey you above the treeline.

6. Moonlit Snowshoe Tour

Full moon over snow covered trees at Alpine Meadows at sunset.

Gain after hours access to Alpine Meadows by signing up for this tour that ends in a luxury dinner at The Chalet. While the food is a perk, the real blessing is you and your equipment being placed on the slopes at sunset, and again after dark when the winch cats come out to play.

7. The Cliffs of the Palisades

There's often a lineup of thrill-seekers peering off the cornice of this snowy cliff that has earned the motto, “When in doubt, air it out.”

If you bide your time, you may score the view of an expert shooting down the face, or a newbie whose eyes were bigger than their skill-level losing a ski and somersaulting 100 feet.

If you don’t wish to join the folks on the cornice, ride up Siberia Express, travel about half way down Siberia Bowl then put on your patient pants, hoping someone is intrepid enough to take the drop.

Don't bother with the ‘Sades on Saturday and Sunday, as they're closed to minimize the chance of weekenders with liquid courage taking a plunge they might regret.

8. Après Scene at Le Chamois

Après Scene at Le Chamois in Squaw Valley

As generous as nature is in the photo op department, it’s hard to beat the ever-evolving subject of humans.

Post up in a discreet spot in the Le Chamois bar and click on your keen observation skills. Your lens may spy a tipsy gentleman sneaking glances of the animated woman by the fire pit, a raucous crew in matching fluorescent snow suits, or a “one too many” patron dropping their glass to a chorus of strangers bellowing “party foul!”

This spot is ripe for capturing the vibes of the après ski scene.

Whether you’re a shutterbug or lens(wo)man, you can end your adventure with a rich album of photographs telling the story of a valley flowing with breakneck thrills, quiet moments of contemplation, nature-made glory, and a deep camaraderie.


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