Skiing Royal Gorge

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We went up to the Royal Gorge X-C ski resort in Tahoe this weekend (staying at the Rainbow Lodge).

On the good side:

  • We started with a beginner's lesson (I've only been X-C skiing once before) and the instructor was particularly good: friendly and funny with a talent for hitting just the right instructional pace so you learned stuff but didn't feel overwhelmed.
  • The weather was absolutely beautiful, warm and clear---though we both forgot sunscreen the first day and some sunburn ensued.
  • The trails were well maintained and fairly well marked. The difficulty ratings were also pretty accurate, without any black diamond surprises on the intermediate trails.
  • The trails are equipped with these nice little warming huts which you can sit in and warm up or have a snack.
  • The people were generally very nice, with a few exceptions discussed below. In particular, the ski rental people were very helpful in helping us try out some of the demo skis on day two.

On the bad side:

  • The Rainbow Lodge (Royal Gorge's captive hotel) rooms were a little cramped. Ours had a queen bed with only about 3-4 feet of clearance between the bed and the wall. The toilet was literally in a closet. I guess it's part of the bed-and-breakfast feel, but I would prefer a more conventional room.
  • I get the same broken ski pole two days in a row---the handle kept coming off. I told them after the first day, but apparently they didn't fix it, which was somewhat irritating.
  • The heating system in the Rainbow Lodge was seriously hosed. Our room was probably about 80 degrees. I mentioned this to the front desk after the first night and they assured me the heat had been turned down, but there I was at 2 AM the second night trying to close the heating register (no luck) and opening the window. Even then, it was too hot on my side of the room (away from the window). And this is the super-annoying bit, when I mentioned it to the front desk they basically told me to go away and fill out a complaint form if I wanted to. Writing a letter to the owners is on my TODO list...
  • We got out of Tahoe just fine, but the traffic was bad for about 25 miles on either side of Sacramento and then it started to rain pretty heavily. Overall, it took us about 5 hours to get back. On the other hand, the drive to Tahoe was nice. We left at 8.30 or so and the roads were totally clear. (Special thanks to Cullen Jennings who lent me his car when I found out that my S4 wouldn't take chains).

If you like to cross-country ski, I can definitely recommend the Royal Gorge trails. However, I can't really recommend staying with them. There appeared to be a number of bed and breakfasts in the same general area, so there should be a bunch of other options which are equally convenient and a bit more eager for your business.

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