Mount Rose Meadows offers something for everyone |

Mount Rose Meadows offers something for everyone

Mark Mclaughlin
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
A couple snowshoes on Chickadee Ridge, about 500 feet above Mount Rose Meadows.
Mark McLaughlin | Lake Tahoe Action

When it comes to do-it-yourself winter sports, Mount Rose Meadows has it all. The varied, high-elevation terrain offers free and easy access for people of all ability levels, with activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, backcountry touring, snowmobiling, sledding and kite boarding. The meadows are part of the Mount Rose Wilderness, 28,000 acres of protected watershed perfectly suited for year-around adventure. Nevada State Route 431 connects Incline Village with south Reno and cuts right through the meadows so visitors can just park and go.

The area is very popular with Reno families out for a fun snow day with the kids, as well as with gnarly backcountry types who forgo lift service to skin up for some of the best pitches and powder shots in the Lake Tahoe region. Oh, and don’t forget the stunning views of Lake Tahoe and east into the Washoe Valley and Great Basin. The meadows top out near 9,000 feet above sea level, so most years the area gets an early and long-lasting snowpack. And it’s worth noting that often when it rains at Tahoe, it snows at Mount Rose.

The meadows have been a popular recreation spot with Nevada skiers for more than a century. Back on Dec. 7, 1941, the weather over the region was cold, but pleasant and not too windy. It was a Sunday and there were about a dozen skiers from Reno, many of them students or graduates from the University of Nevada, taking advantage of early season snow.

There were no nearby ski resorts in 1941, and the road wasn’t plowed to the top in winter, but there was no shortage of motivation and innovation among these energetic pioneer skiers. Among them were young men like Wayne Poulsen, founder of Squaw Valley, and Frank Titus and Fraser West, alumni from the undefeated 1939 Nevada ski team that Poulsen had coached. Reno skier Warren Hart had rigged a rope tow powered by a Ford engine placed at the top of hill to pull the skiers up. The rope tow went so fast that the friction could wear out a pair of gloves by lunchtime. Skiers let go of the rope 20 or 25 feet from the motor and then let their momentum propel them the rest of the way.

Later that day, a few of the guys stopped at the lodge at Galena Creek for refreshments. That’s when they heard the news that Japan had bombed an American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The United States quickly declared war and began mobilizing troops. At one point, the U.S. military requested America’s best skiers to join a rigorous training program that became known as the 10th Mountain Division, an elite unit of military ski troopers whose fearless courage during the war was honored, as the 10th became one of the most highly decorated divisions in U.S. history. Some of those early Mount Rose skiers became heroes in that division.

Tahoe historian Mark McLaughlin is an author and professional speaker. His award-winning books are available at stores or at Mark can be reached at

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