GETTING THERE: Kirkwood is about a 90-minute drive from Reno, Nev.; two hours from Sacramento; and three hours from San Francisco. JetBlue flies nonstop from Washington Dulles to Sacramento for $218 round trip, and American, America West and Continental have connecting flights to Sacramento from $190 to $257 round trip. Connecting flights from Washington to Reno are $222 to $314 on America West, US Airways, United and Delta.

GETTING AROUND: If you're staying in South Lake Tahoe (the closest town, 35 miles away), the best deal is the Kirkwood South Shore Shuttle, which stops at more than a dozen major properties. The service begins Dec. 27 and costs $5 per person round trip. Details: 209-258-6000.

WHEN TO GO: The mountain opens Dec. 1 (or earlier, depending on snowfall) and closes in late April. The best time to visit is late January through February, or spring.

SKIING: A daily adult lift ticket costs $62, except for holiday blackout dates, when the cost is $65. The lifts are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Equipment rental begins at $31 per day. A two-hour beginner group lesson with rentals begins at $69, and from $99 for intermediate to advanced skiers with rentals. Group lessons without rental equipment begins at $40. Private lessons begin at $95 for one hour.

WHERE TO STAY: Kirkwood has hotel-style rooms and one-, two- and three-bedroom condos with lofts from $151 to $588 per night (higher on weekends and holidays). Details: 800-967-7500,

WHERE TO EAT: Dining options in the Village Plaza at the base of the mountain include Monte Wolfe's Coffee House and Deli (209-258-7246), with hot breakfast items, deli-style sandwiches, soups and baked potatoes (lunch runs $6 to $12); the Village BBQ, an outdoor buffet with hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches and chili cheese fries (lunch is $5 to $10); and the Off the Wall Bar and Grill (209-258-7365), an upscale restaurant with a fireplace, overstuffed chairs and spectacular views of Thimble Peak. Dinner is served on Friday and Saturday nights only, with reservations. Lunch includes salads, sandwiches and pasta, $7 to $17. Dinner features seared crab cakes, scallops and filet mignon, $15 to $33. On Highway 88, the Kirkwood Inn (209-258-7304), an 1860s cabin with rustic decor, serves barbecued ribs ($22.95), the local favorites.

INFO: Kirkwood Mountain Resort, 209-258-6000,

-- Lauren Wiseman