The sweet spot for snow enthusiasts, formerly known as Northstar at Tahoe, is now officially Northstar California Resort.
The name alteration comes from new ownership. Vail Resorts added Northstar to its snow lover’s family in 2010.
Now, skiers and boarders are getting a first chance to experience the changes afforded by a new parent company. Just last year, the new owners pumped $30 million into the family-friendly destination.
Perhaps the most obvious change sits at the top of the Tahoe Zephyr Express Lift. The Zephyr Lodge opened in December and provides a third mountain eatery and doubles the number of people served mountainside.
The 17,000 square foot facility gives diners an outstanding view of the Sierra Crest and blends beautifully into the scenery, as it's made of reclaimed barn wood from Montana.
My personal favorite edible additions: the build it yourself noodle bowl and salad bars. The bartenders have also created a little something wild, on ice. The Beefy Mary, their most popular drink, is defined as a meal in a cup and comes with all the usual Bloody Mary must haves, plus beef jerky. Yum.
Vail Resorts also added on another express lift for extra access to more challenging runs on the back mountain terrain. The Promised Land Express rises 1,440 feet from the Backside to West Ridge.
One more change comes with its very own snowboarding Olympic champ: Shaun White. The gold medalist signed a partnership with Northstar to train at their new Olympic size Superpipe.
The money Vail invested gave Northstar the ability to buy a new cat with an arm stretching 22 feet long. That's an important detail because the Olympic training standard requires each side of a half pipe to stretch 22 feet in the air.
Each night, Superpipe creator Andrew Erath spends eight hours carving and cleaning the half pipe, which has proved a major attraction for visitors. The Superpipe just opened and it's already played host to three competitions.