Tahoe History

The Tucker Snowcat used to groom the slopes in front of the old residence at the base of the ski hill.

Granlibakken Tahoe’s ski and sled area has been making memories for generations. From kids who learned to ski on its approachable slopes to families that have been involved in the operations, Granlibakken is a special place for many people.

Kyle Rogers, whose dad was the manager of the ski hill in the late 70s, remembers spending his early childhood on the slopes and in the lodge at Granlibakken. The family would wake up at 4AM so that Kyle’s father could groom the ski hill in the old Tucker Snowcat. The kids, four in total, would take a nap in the attic of the ski lodge, on the hardwood floors. Kyle remembers that the attic was always pretty chilly, and of course, sleeping on the floor is never comfortable, but it built bonds and memories that he still shares with his siblings to this day. His parents would fuel up the wood stove below to get the lodge warm and comfortable for the day.Continue Reading Skiing at Granlibakken Tahoe

The story of Granlibakken’s early days, as told by Kjell “Rusty” Rustad’s daughter, Binth Rustad.

Tahoe history

Binth Rustad at the creek at Granlibakken

Granlibakken Tahoe today is a bustling conference center, lodge, and resort just outside of Tahoe City. The small ski and sled hill onsite is fun for beginners and families, and generations of skiers and snowboarders have earned their chops at Granlibakken’s historic slope. It’s not uncommon to talk to a local or a visitor to the area and hear that they first learned to ski or snowboard at Granlibakken.

But when Kjell “Rusty” Rustad first leased the land that Granlibakken’s ski slope is situated on, it was a small operation. There were no structures onsite, and it was best known for the ski jump that had been built there for the 1932 Olympic Ski Jumping Trials and the 1932 National Ski Association Ski Jumping Tournament.

Rusty, together with his wife Marion, developed Granlibakken and gave it its name, which means “hill sheltered by fir trees.” Rusty built a log Ski Hut out of the trees that were cleared for the ski hill. He also built a house to live in and a duplex that slept 6 on each side for visitors.   Rusty worked to further develop the ski area—he built 2 rope tows, expanded the terrain, groomed the slopes, and taught lessons to beginners and aspiring ski jumpers. Granlibakken is truly where the Rustad family made their mark in Tahoe.Continue Reading Growing Up Granlibakken

Steve Topol’s family relocated from Reno up to Tahoe in the mid-50s. Their house was conveniently located

Tahoe ski history

Steve Topol’s family on the deck of their Cathedral Street house in 1959.

on Cathedral Street, in the same neighborhood as the Granlibakken Ski Area, and Steve has fond memories of spending his free time in Granlibakken’s 74-acre valley during the winter and summer seasons.

Steve remembers skiing at Granlibakken between the years of 1957-59 when he was about 7-10 years old. It was a great place to learn, he says, with a small bunny slope for beginners where the sled hill now is, and the larger, steeper hill with a rope tow and a Poma lift to the top. Steve took one lesson from Kjell “Rusty” Rustad, the owner and developer of Granlibakken. Rusty hailed from Norway and was an avid skier and sailor who made his home in Tahoe City. He first developed Granlibakken as a commercial ski resort in 1947, and gave the hill its name, which means “hill sheltered by fir trees.”

Continue Reading Granlibakken: The West Shore’s Playground

forest-bathingWhen you walk into the forest, do you see a city of trees? Or do you see an ecosystem teeming with life both observable and microscopic? What you might not recognize immediately is the healing power of the forest—as a place to foster deeper connections with your sense of self, with the world at large, and with Mother Earth to arrive at a harmonious state of physical and mental well-being.

The healing art of forest-bathing, or shinrin-yoku, has been proven to improve focus and productivity, increase happiness, and boost immunity. In Japan, the healing power of forest-bathing is recognized as such a crucial part of mental and physical health that it was implemented as a part of their public health program in 1982. It is shown that spending time inhaling the phytoncides, or essential oils emitted by trees and plant life can help to improve immune system function as well as mood and overall well-being.

When was the last time that you took a break from work, or consciously stepped outside to spend time amongst the trees, to clear your mind and let nature revive and rejuvenate your soul? Whether it is just for 15 minutes or a few hours, studies have shown that time spent in the forest–breathing the air and enjoying the peaceful setting–can greatly improve mental and physical health.

Ashley Aarti Cooper, a yoga instructor and shinrin-yoku guide, says, “The principles of shinrin-yoku have really helped my clients become connected to their shinrin-yokubodies, and the internal and external environments they inhabited. They reported greater presence, reduction in feelings of anxiety, better pain management, and an overall sense of well-being.” She stresses the distinction between endurance or destination hiking and full immersion in the forest. Taking the time to contemplate your natural surroundings while enjoying the scenery, the smells, and the feel of the forest helps to focus the mind and rejuvenate the body.

As a physical, spiritual, and mental practice, Ashley says that “[Shinrin-yoku] puts everything in perspective when you see yourself as a being that is meant to be a part of the natural world. Take your shoes off, take your time, lean against an old tree and close your eyes in the sunshine. Just listen. Smell the cedars, taste the wood-mint, splash your face in a stream. Remember that you are just one tiny human with one fleeting life, and enjoy the freedom that comes with that knowledge.”

When we examine our place in the natural world, the forest is both humbling and invigorating. Humans naturally belong in this landscape. By taking the time to unplug and immerse yourself in the calming presence of the forest, you can achieve the healing benefits of the outdoors that our ancestors have enjoyed for generations. So go ahead, and indulge yourself in a healing forest-bath. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.

Enjoy a forest-bathing experience with Ashley Aarti Cooper at the upcoming Restorative Arts and Yoga Festival, June 1-3, 2018. The full weekend of events is just $289. Learn more here.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!



Why Do We Drum?

by Liz Broscoe aka: Drumchik

Liz Broscoe is a professional drummer/percussionist, author, adjunct faculty at Lake Tahoe Community College, teaching artist for schools and at-risk youth, and a corporate team building facilitator. Through her drumming programs, she continues to inspire others throughout the Tahoe/Truckee/Reno and Carson Valley areas. Learn more at www.drumchik.com or call Liz at: 530-318-2330.


We drum because it’s fun! That is a given. There is something very rewarding about the sound, feel, effort and the unifying experience created within a community drum circle. I am a long time professional drum set player, but this all-inclusive communal drumming I am referring to is very different than playing in a band focused more on entertainment.

Current research shows that specialized group drumming provides many health, wellness and therapeutic benefits. Experiencing steady, rhythmic drumming improves cognitive brain function – increasing our ability to hold attention and focus. This is so good for kids and adults these days with all of our technology pulling our attention everywhere.

Drumming increases cancer fighting white blood cells in the immune system, decreases stress, anxiety, blood pressure and pain. It is a “Whole Brain” activity that provides the rare experience of activating and balancing both sides of the brain simultaneously. Consequently, drumming can benefit people dealing with Cancer, Parkinson’s, stroke, PTSD and many other conditions.

In her book, “When the Drummers Where Women”, Layne Redmond expressed that it is our primordial desire to get back to our roots of drumming. Archeological findings confirm that many cultures have drummed since ancient times.
Drumming is fascinating to me. As a professional drummer of nearly four decades and an educator/facilitator for the last twenty years, I am continually inspired and motivated in helping my students gain a deeper understanding of themselves through drumming.

From at-risk kids to adults, whether I facilitated in schools, juvenile treatment centers or at corporate team building events, I continue to enjoy the challenge and rewards of bringing folks together collectively and communally in mind, body and spirit through drumming.
From a science point of view, our ancestors did not understand why they drummed, but they certainly knew intuitively.

Yes, it’s super fun, but now we know it is also really good for us!!

Drum On!



Discounted lodging is available onsite at Granlibakken Tahoe. The full weekend of events is just $276 when booked prior to February 28. Prices go up on March 1. Learn more here.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!



The second annual Restorative Arts and Yoga Festival (RAY) will be taking place from June 1-3, 2018. RAY will feature a three day program of health and wellness workshops designed for yogis of all abilities. The retreat is hosted at Granlibakken Tahoe, as a part of their Sierra Soul Series of Wellness Events. Granlibakken Tahoe is a retreat center, resort, and conference center located in the heart of a 74 acre wooded valley, just steps from Tahoe City and Lake Tahoe. Instructors for RAY are all based out of the Truckee/Tahoe region, creating a vibrant festival that highlights Tahoe’s thriving wellness community.

Early-bird discounted pricing is available for RAY 2018. The full weekend of events—three days of workshops, meals, and social hours, is just $276 when booked prior to February 28. On March 1, the price goes up to $289 for the weekend. Classes and workshops can also be purchased individually. Discounted lodging at Granlibakken Tahoe is also available—allowing for an immersive weekend of well-being in the Sierras.

Restorative Arts and Yoga Festival

Final Schedule Released:

The final schedule for RAY has been released. Building off of the schedule for the 2017 event, RAY 2018 will feature more social hours, two additional interactive group performances—drumming and aerial flow arts, and an all-new Shakti Space. The Shakti Space is designed to be a creative space, where attendees are invited to partake in activities independently of an instructor, or to simply relax in the midst of the festival.

New Speakeasy sessions will offer informal sessions between workshops, where attendees can gather to discuss a topic or create something that they can take home with them—whether it be a written mantra or a relaxation technique. The expanded Vendor Fair on Saturday will also give attendees the opportunity to purchase local goods and services—from jewelry to massage sessions.

The schedule for RAY includes daily workshops, with three tracks of classes. Workshops are designed for yogis and health practitioners of all abilities. The workshops feature a wide range of topics—from Acroyoga to Yin Restorative Yoga. The popular shinrin-yoku forest-bathing meditative hike will be offered again, as well as Kundalini Yoga and Sound Healing meditation. The RAY program is designed to complement the natural surroundings of Granlibakken Tahoe. The indoor and outdoor workshops and social hours pay homage to the mountain valley that the resort is nestled in.

Restorative Arts and Yoga Festival Tahoe

Workshop Leader Lineup:

The instructor bios for RAY have just been released. With a diverse group of workshop leaders-ranging from local yoga instructors to massage therapists and energy workers, the instructors have been carefully selected to present a diverse array of wellness modalities, capitalizing on the expertise found in North Lake Tahoe. RAY offers ample opportunity to learn, grow, and practice under the tutelage of some of the Tahoe region’s best wellness practitioners.

Discounted lodging is available onsite at Granlibakken Tahoe. The full weekend of events is just $276 when booked prior to February 28. Prices go up on March 1. Learn more here.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!



This blog is part of a series that looks back on skiing at Granlibakken Tahoe through the years, commemorating 95 years of winter fun at Granlibakken, which has been used as a winter recreation area since 1922. These blogs are based on interviews with people who have memories of skiing at Granlibakken. 

Do you have memories about Granlibakken Tahoe? We would love to hear them, you can share your memories by commenting below.

Here are links to other blogs that may interest you: 

Read: Learning to Ski with Rusty at Granlibakken Tahoe

Read: Granlibakken: The West Shore's Playground

Read: Kjell "Rusty" Rustad, a Sailor on Skis

Tahoe ski history

The Tahoe Tavern Ski Jump, constructed with the help of Lars Haugen

With the 2018 Winter Olympic Games starting today, we are looking back on Olympic history here at Granlibakken Tahoe.

Granlibakken's first foray into winter sports began in 1922, when it was called "Ski Canyon" and used as a winter recreation area by locals. In 1926, The Tahoe Tavern, located a half-mile from Ski Canyon, stayed open for its first winter season. The "Snowball Special" run by Southern Pacific Railroad transported guests from Sacramento and San Francisco to the Tahoe Tavern, where they would take a horse-drawn sleigh the half-mile to Ski Canyon.

In the early days of ski competitions, jumping was hugely popular. As a spectator sport, it was adrenaline-inducing and easy to understand-important for a sport that so few were able to participate in. Prior to the construction of resorts, rope tows, chairlifts, and modern skis, many spectators had never been on a set of skis--but they understood ski jumping. Recognizing the attraction that a ski jump would be, the owner of the Tahoe Tavern, lumber and mining magnate D.L. Bliss, appropriated $3,000 to a ski jump. The jump was built in 1929 under the supervision of Lars Haugen, a celebrity in the ski jumping world, and a professional ski jump consultant. The jump constructed by Lars Haugen and his team was used for ski jumping exhibitions, and put Lake Tahoe as well as California as a whole on the map for ski jumping and winter recreation.

Tahoe Ski History

The Lake Tahoe Ski Club

With the development of this new ski area, the California Chamber of Commerce lobbied for Ski Canyon, which was renamed Olympic Hill in the late 1920s, to be the site of the 1932 Winter Olympics. The 1932 Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles, and it seemed logical that the Winter Olympics also be held in California. However, years of promoting Southern California's sunny and warm climate now worked against this goal. The Winter Olympics were awarded to Lake Placid, NY, as the Olympic Committee did not believe that California had the snow to host the winter games.

Despite losing the bid for the 1932 Winter Olympics, Olympic Hill (formerly Ski Canyon) was the site of a dual meet in February 1931. This meet was the Olympic Ski Jumping Trials, and also served as California's first ski jumping state championships. It is estimated that about 3,000 people attended the event-the largest crowd to meet at Lake Tahoe up until that time.

Olympic Hill had another win in 1932--due to the hard work of Wilber Maynard, who served as manager of the Southern Pacific Hotel in Truckee and was the western vice president of the National Ski Area Association (NSAA). Maynard convinced members of the NSAA to host the 1932 National Ski Jumping Championships at Olympic Hill February 26-28, 1932-directly following the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Showing the members of the NSAA photos of the ski jump at Olympic Hill and arguing that California does indeed have snow, Maynard managed to convince the committee. The National Ski Jumping Championship was awarded to the Lake Tahoe Ski Club, to be held at Olympic Hill. This Ski Jumping Championship was notable-it was the first to be held west of the Rockies, and is to this day the only National Ski Jumping Championship held in California.

Tahoe Ski History

Before start of Women's 30 K race
February 26, 1932

At the National Ski Jumping Championship, over 200 competitors representing 109 ski clubs from around the nation competed. Cross-country ski races around the 74 acre wooded valley were also held, and women's ski jumping exhibitions were hosted at the jump. Sigrid Stromstad, a strong downhill and cross-country skier as well as a local celebrity in the Tahoe region for her athletic talent and her helpful ski lessons offered to Tahoe Tavern guests, jumped and competed in the cross-country ski championships.

Between 1932 and 1936, Olympic Hill was selected to host three California Ski Jumping Championships, and held a number of other tournaments hosted by the Lake Tahoe Ski Club. Many of these tournaments drew the leading ski jumpers at the time, and huge crowds.

In 1939, the Lake Tahoe Ski Club further developed the hill, building a rope tow, a more robust warming hut, and a 1,000 foot jump. However, WWII all but stopped all ski jumping competitions in the region. After the war, in 1947, a Norwegian ski jumper, sailor, and graduate of the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy, Kjell "Rusty" Rustad, assumed operations of Olympic Hill. Renaming the area to "Granlibakken," which means "a hill sheltered by fir trees" in Norwegian, Rusty maintained the jumps--including a novice jump on Granlibakken grounds. In 1952, the Junior National Ski Jumping Championship was held at Granlibakken.

Tahoe Ski History

Rusty, who helped keep ski jumping alive at Lake Tahoe, on the Junior Jump at Granlibakken

Rusty also further developed the ski area-adding lodging, a warming hut with a snack bar, grooming, night skiing, and more rope tows to access the terrain. Despite larger resorts opening in the area, Granlibakken remained one of the foremost areas for ski jumping and was a great hill for novices to learn on before they moved on to the larger slopes.

Today, Granlibakken honors its history in this region. The 1960 Olympic Nordic Ski area was not far from Granlibakken at what is now Sugar Pine State Park, and Squaw Valley, host to the 1960 Winter Olympics, is just an eight mile drive from Granlibakken. Although Granlibakken itself never hosted the Olympics, a number of Olympic athletes and hopefuls have competed and practiced on the slopes.  The jumps are gone, and many of the legends only exist in memories, but Granlibakken still holds a special place in the Tahoe region as a historic resort where generations of locals and visitors alike have learned to ski, race, and jump on two planks.

This year, Granlibakken is celebrating 95 years of winter fun with 5 months of prizes, giveaways, and more.  Click here for details.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!




This blog is part of a series that looks back on skiing at Granlibakken Tahoe through the years, commemorating 95 years of winter fun at Granlibakken, which has been used as a winter recreation area since 1922. These blogs are based on interviews with people who have memories of skiing at Granlibakken. 

Do you have memories about Granlibakken Tahoe? We would love to hear them, you can share your memories by commenting below.

Here are links to other blogs that may interest you: 

Read: Kjell "Rusty" Rustad, a Sailor on Skis

Read: Olympic History at Granlibakken Tahoe

Read: Granlibakken Tahoe: The West Shore's Playground

Paul Rogers learned to ski under Kjell "Rusty" Rustad's tutelage, and shares his memories of Granlibakken Tahoe here.

Some things never change. Paul Rogers remembers learning to ski at Granlibakken—for many of the same reasons that people choose Granlibakken today. He says that learning to ski at Granlibakken in the 60s was the obvious choice because “other resorts are so big-it makes sense to start small.” Today, with affordable ticket prices and approachable terrain, Granlibakken remains a great ski area for families and beginners alike.

Learn to ski at Granlibakken

Paul Rogers with his brothers, working on their James Bond look at the Granlibakken Ski Hill.

One thing has changed since the days that Paul and his brothers whizzed down the Granlibakken slopes on their 200cm Head skis—Rusty is no longer offering lessons. Kjell “Rusty” Rustad, a Norwegian skier and sailing enthusiast, first developed Granlibakken as a stand-alone ski resort, building lodging onsite, expanding the existing ski area, and giving what was then known as Ski Canyon the name “Granlibakken,” which means “hill sheltered by fir trees” in Norwegian in 1947.

Paul describes Rusty as “demanding, but very interested in capturing the energy of the teenagers that he taught.” Learning to ski on long skis—200cm skis, the pupils learned to ski without the luxury of poles, gloves, and were required to keep a paper plate secured between their knees when learning under Rusty’s tutelage. The lack of poles and gloves encouraged better balance, and the paper plate encouraged what was considered good form—with legs close together to manage the huge skis. Paul says that even now, when he skis the slopes of Alpine Meadows with his brother, they will comment “You looked like Rusty going down that slope!” It was a distinct way of skiing, made necessary by the long skis and ingrained in the youth by Rusty’s firm teaching methods.

Ski at Granlibakken Tahoe

You can find Paul today skiing with his family at Squaw.

Rusty was also known for his jumping. He had set up jumps for various ability levels, and Granlibakken was known as the best place to learn to jump in the region. Paul’s twin, more of a daredevil, enjoyed this component of Granlibakken’s hill, but Paul describes “the rope tow might have been the scariest part of learning for me!” The original rope tow that Rusty constructed is gone, but in its place is a Poma platter lift, still a challenge but well worth the ride to the top of the hill.

Paul even remembers learning to drive on Granlibakken road. His father piled the family in their station wagon with snow tires, and told Paul that this was his opportunity to learn to drive in the winter. Typical of Sierra winters and small streets at the time, a lot of snow had fallen and Granlibakken Road had not been plowed. The station wagon got stuck a ways down the road, and the family had to wait until help came to get unstuck.

Paul describes Granlibakken as a rustic resort, fun for families, with memories being made all winter. He says “Rusty was quite the legend. Although he is gone, a lot of memories of him and Granlibakken live on through the people he taught.” Paul certainly has many memories of his time at Granlibakken, and of Rusty, the man who propelled Granlibakken into local fame. For generations, people have learned to ski and ride at this modest hill, making memories and sharing laughter and good times. This tradition continues today, and although some of the local legends have passed on, their memory lives on.

Join us in celebrating 95 years of family fun at Granlibakken Tahoe. Click here for details.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!