History of Mt. Rose, Nevada
Since 1930, long before the present Mt. Rose Highway was built, or even chairlifts were constructed, Reno and Washoe County locals have been skiing in the area currently known as Mt. Rose- Ski Tahoe. Shortly after World War II, a lodge called Sky Tavern was built in the area where a few surface lifts had been operating since the late 30's. Sky Tavern was, and continues to be located on the Mt. Rose Highway (SR 431), 11 miles west of US 395, just south of the City of Reno. Eventually this historic ski lodge would be sold to the City of Reno where it still operates the city's Junior Ski Program
From Sky Tavern, devoted skiers hiked up to the 9,700' peak of Slide Mountain and skied in the location of the present Mt. Rose- Ski Tahoe. By widening the existing logging trails for better ski terrain, these former powderhounds were cutting some of the first ski trails in the Sierra Nevada. In 1950, the old Mt. Rose Hwy. was merely a summer road connecting Reno with beautiful Lake Tahoe. As the years marched on, the old SR431 continued to be improved allowing winter travel to higher elevations, therefore more ski terrain became easily accessible.
The original Reno Ski Bowl was constructed on the east slope of Slide Mountain (currently the East Bowl of Mt. Rose), and at one point was connected to the Sky Tavern area by the old "Ringer Chair." This lift spanned "Bum's Gulch" taking it to the base of the Reno Ski Bowl. Remnants of this lift can still be seen on the highway about 2 miles below the Mt. Rose main lodge where a lone, rusty lift tower remains standing. When Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics, the Reno Ski Bowl was actually chosen as an alternate site for skiing events if Squaw did not have adequate snow coverage.
Separating the East and North slopes of Slide Mountain lives the extreme terrain commonly referred to as "The Chutes." Always known to have been potentially hazardous, there was a time when skiers were allowed in this area at their own risk.
Shuttle busses actually ran from the Slide Mountain Junction to the base of the Reno Ski Bowl from the late 1950's to the mid 60's transporting everyone who ventured over to the backside.
This included both those who skied the present Mt. Rose north facing runs as well as those who tempted fate in "The Chutes." The mid 1960's saw the closure of this area as two new ski areas were about to open in 1965. Washoe County officials declared "The Chutes" permanently Out Of Bounds and this closure exists to the present.
1965 saw large changes on the slopes of Slide Mountain. Two independent ski resorts were to open that winter at an elevation of 8,260 feet which was, and remains the highest base elevation in the Lake Tahoe basin -- Mt. Rose Ski Resort on the north facing slopes, and Slide Mountain Ski Area occupying the eastern runs. "Slide" was the immediate predecessor to the Reno Ski Bowl, where as "Rose" adopted the terrain on what was then the "back side." The Mt. Rose Development Company was formed to direct the future of the ski resort. Over the years, "Slide" and "Rose" operated independently, each expanding in their own ways with more lifts and lodge improvements. The Mt. Rose lodge rented over 40 hotel rooms until they discontinued lodging guests in 1984.
In 1980, 180 acres of new trails were cut at Mt. Rose between the Sunset ski trail and the Mt. Rose Hwy. Also, the Lakeview chair was built, offering spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and increasing uphill capacity. The 1984-85 season saw the 20th anniversary of operation and two new chairlifts. The existing Northwest Passage chairlift was replaced with a new triple chair, and the Galena triple chair provided increased terrain for beginner and intermediate skiers. In 1985, "Around the World" was cut adding a new 2.5 mile long ski run for long relaxing cruising.
The "Iron Curtain" between Slide and Rose finally came down in 1987 when Mt. Rose acquired the Slide Mountain Ski Area terrain under a lease agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. The "Slide Side" (affectionately referred to by locals) became the East Bowl of Mt. Rose. Combining the two ski areas increased the overall terrain of Mt. Rose to 900+ acres, now making Rose a significant player in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Improvements continued to take place on the hill with the upgrading of the Zephyr chair to a quad lift in 1989, and also Ponderosa chair in 1993. Both new lifts vastly increased uphill capacity and aided in boosting the overall image of the resort.
1994-95 shined as the 30th anniversary for Mt. Rose. This landmark year produced the most significant facility improvements in the history of the ski area. The main lodge underwent a 2.5 million dollar remodel which included a monster outdoor BBQ deck and an 300% expansion of the indoor dining area. Over 550" of snow blanketed Mt. Rose that season putting an alarming end to the eight year draught and rewriting the record book with the most snow in history for Mt. Rose.
As Mt. Rose approaches the 21st century, the future of Tahoe's Highest Base Resort looks bright. Expanded terrain is on the horizon as well as increased lodging both in Reno and Lake Tahoe. Mt. Rose has achieved the proud reputation of maintaining the most ideal snow conditions in Lake Tahoe. "Altitude is Everything" when it comes to great snow, thus Rose is known as Tahoe's best bet especially during warm storms and late season skiing. The expansion of U.S. 395 in Reno has made Mt. Rose the closest ski resort to an international airport in the world, and as the years roll on, will continue to be one of the shining stars in the world of deep snow fun.