Sugar Bowl Inks Deal to Operate Royal Gorge Cross-Country Ski Resort as Conservation Purchase Nears

Sugar Bowl Resort in California has signed an agreement to operate Royal Gorge Cross Country Resort, one of America’s largest cross-country operation, which is being purchased by the Truckee Donner Land Trust, the Trust for Public Land and the Northern Sierra Partnership.

The Sugar Bowl Resort operating agreement was inked on Monday, Oct. 1, and includes the 3,000 acres the conservation groups have agreed to purchase. The Truckee Donner Land Trust, the Trust for Public Land and the Northern Sierra Partnership put down a $500,000 non-refundable deposit on the property on Oct. 1, and plan to complete the $11.25 million purchase on Dec. 20, 2012. The previous owners of Royal Gorge defaulted on their loan on the property, and Royal Gorge was taken over by the lender last summer.

The agreement unites two of North Tahoe’s premiere ski resorts. Sugar Bowl Resort, founded in 1939, is a 1,500-acre downhill ski resort with four peaks, 13 lifts and North Tahoe’s deepest annual snowpack. Royal Gorge is America’s largest cross-country ski resort. Its 200 kilometers of trails and approximately 6,000 acres of terrain stretch from the open expanse of Van Norden Meadows to the foot of majestic Devil’s Peak. The Summit Station lodge is the center of the cross-country resort and eight warming huts dot the expansive eight track trail system. Sugar Bowl has trail leases with Donner Summit landowners, which will ensure the entire 6,000 acres of cross-country ski will be open for skiing this winter.

Sugar Bowl Resort and Royal Gorge are already connected by an “interconnect trail” that allows skiers to ski back and forth between the Donner Summit resorts, and plans are in the works to further enhance the connection with two additional beginner-friendly routes. Sugar Bowl is now offering a season pass that allows holders to downhill ski at Sugar Bowl and cross-country ski at Royal Gorge for one affordable rate. Sugar Bowl passholders can add on an unrestricted Royal Gorge pass for $149 (adult price), and can purchase an unrestricted, standalone Royal Gorge pass for $299.

Sugar Bowl plans to invest $500,000 into Royal Gorge this season, including upgrades and renovations to Summit Station, the purchase of two new grooming machines, enhanced wayfinding signage, a new website with comprehensive daily grooming report and more. Sugar Bowl is committed to making Royal Gorge, again, the preeminent cross country resort in North America. It will also bring a tradition of exceptional customer service to the resort. Sugar Bowl Resort was one of three ski resorts across the nation awarded “Best Overall Guest Service Program” by the National Ski Area Association in 2010.

“Royal Gorge has incredible potential, and we’re excited about the opportunity to return such an iconic resort to its once and former glory”, said Sugar Bowl CEO Rob Kautz. “It’s a perfect complement to the authentic alpine adventure brand that we’ve built here at Sugar Bowl, and we’re committed to investing in Royal Gorge as a world-class destination for years to come.”

Royal Gorge is known for its easy access, consistent snow conditions and expansive trail system. The resort’s high-elevation base area (much of the resort sits above 7,000 feet), ensures reliable, high-quality snow conditions. And its location, significantly closer to San Francisco and Sacramento than other North Tahoe resorts, make it a popular day and overnight ski destination.

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Ryan Alford

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