Squaw Valley, Placer County, California

For other places with the same name, see Squaw Valley (disambiguation)
Squaw Valley
Olympic Valley
Unincorporated community

Sign at entrance to Squaw Valley
Squaw Valley
Squaw Valley

Location in California

Coordinates: 39°11′47″N 120°14′01″W / 39.19631°N 120.23356°W / 39.19631; -120.23356
Country United States
State California
County Placer County

Olympic Valley, California (also known as Squaw Valley) is an unincorporated community located in Placer County northwest of Tahoe City along California State Highway 89 on the banks of the Truckee River near Lake Tahoe. It is home to Squaw Valley Ski Resort, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Olympic Valley is the smallest resort area to host the Olympic Winter Games.[1]


The town of Claraville, formerly located at the mouth of Squaw Valley was once among the biggest mining operations in the Lake Tahoe region. There were rumors that the mine was salted with ore brought in from Virginia City, Nevada.[2] George Wharton James, author of the book The Lake of the Sky doubts the mines were salted with ore and suggests that the energetic prospector Shannon Knox started the mine with good faith.[2] He writes about the History of the Tahoe Region (pre 1915) in many of the chapters of his book. The Squaw Valley Mining boom was short lived and by 1863–64 the valley had lost almost all of its inhabitants to the Comstock lode in Virginia City.

By 1942, Wayne Poulsen, a former star skier from the University of Nevada, had acquired 2,000 acres (810 ha) in Squaw Valley from the Southern Pacific Railroad. Poulsen met Alex Cushing, a Harvard University-trained lawyer, in 1946 while Cushing was vacationing at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort.[3] During his vacation, Cushing toured Squaw Valley at Poulsen's invitation and decided to invest in building a ski resort there.[3] Unlike Poulsen, Cushing had the political connections and access to the capital necessary to create a ski resort. In June 1948, the two founded the Squaw Valley Development Company[4] and Cushing replaced Poulsen as president of the Squaw Valley Development Corporation by October 1949.[5] Squaw Valley Ski Resort opened on Thanksgiving Day 1949.[6] The resort was constructed with $400,000 raised by Cushing, including $150,000 of his own money.[5] The creation of the Squaw Valley Development Corporation and Squaw Valley Ski Resort mark the modern era of Squaw Valley.[7]

In 1954, Cushing began lobbying the International Olympic Committee to host the 1960 Olympic Winter games after he saw an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that detailed Reno, Nevada's bid to host the games.[5] Innsbruck, Austria was Squaw Valley's biggest competitor in the running for the 1960 Winter Games, and Squaw Valley won the right to host the games by a vote of 32-30 on the second ballot.[5] The 1960 Winter Olympics were the first Winter Olympics to be televised live and attracted millions of viewers.

Olympic Valley entered into what was termed a "renaissance" following the acquisition of Squaw Valley Ski Resort by KSL Capital Partners in 2010.[8][9][10][11] With its acquisition, KSL Capital Partners announced $50 million in improvements to Squaw Valley. The total amount was increased to $70 million when Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows merged in October 2011.[12][13][14] Investments include upgrading chair lifts and snow-making and grooming equipment.[10][15]


The climate of Olympic Valley is classified as Dsb (Continental Mediterranean Climate) under the Köppen Climate Classification.[16]

Climate data for Squaw Valley
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 3
Average low °C (°F) −9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 257
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 10 5 9 8 5 2 2 1 2 1 5 9 59
Source: Weatherbase [17]


Skiing and racing culture has been important to Olympic Valley since before it hosted the 1960 Winter Games. An athlete from Squaw Valley has competed in every Winter Olympics since 1964, when Jimmie Heuga competed in the IX Olympic Winter Games.[18] Because of this, Squaw Valley has taken the moniker "Official Supplier of skiers to the US Ski Team."[18][19] Many members of the US Ski Team began skiing as a part of Squaw Valley's Mighty Mites racing team for five- to ten-year-olds.[18]

Notable winter athletes from Olympic Valley include:

In addition to hosting the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, Olympic Valley played host to the 1969 FIS World Cup alpine skiing races.[20] It also hosted the US Alpine Championships in the years 2002, 2013 and 2014 and the US Freestyle Championships in 2009.[21][22][23][24] The area also hosts non-skiing sporting events, including the Western States Endurance Run, which begins at the base of the Squaw Valley Ski Resort.[25] The 2013 and 2014 Ironman Lake Tahoe triathlon also began and ended in Olympic Valley.[26]

Arts and culture

Olympic Valley has hosted the Wanderlust music and yoga festival annually since 2009.[27][28] Other musical performances held in Olympic Valley include concerts by Jerry Garcia Band, Jurassic 5, Matisyahu, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Wailers, Brett Dennen, and Big Head Todd and the Monsters.[29][30][31]

Olympic Valley is home to the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the organizers of the Squaw Valley Writer's Conference,[32] and the Squaw Valley Institute.[2] The Institute aims to foster "uncommon conversations" and hosts speaker events and other cultural events.[2] Alpenglow Sports, a local sporting goods store, hosts the Alpenglow Winter Film Series at Squaw Valley, in which athletes and explorers from around the world share stories about their experiences and adventures.[33]


Olympic Valley is an unincorporated area located in Placer County, California. Placer County services the area.

Incorporation efforts

In August 2013, a group named Incorporate Olympic Valley (IOV) submitted a petition to the Placer County Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO) in order to begin the process of attempting to incorporate Squaw/Olympic Valley into a town named Olympic Valley.[34] Proponents of incorporation originally wanted to include Alpine Meadows, California in its efforts, but the citizens of Alpine Meadows rejected the proposal.[16]

In December 2013, IOV submitted a formal application to the LAFCO which outlined the boundaries of the town they are proposing.[35] Squaw Valley Ski Resort submitted a request to the Placer County LAFCO asking that it be excluded from the proposed town in April 2014.[36] The Resort at Squaw Creek and Squaw Valley Lodge, two additional major businesses in the Squaw Valley area, submitted a letter to LAFCO in June 2014 urging the committee to deny the IOV incorporation application and to exclude them from proposed town.[37] Save Olympic Valley, a group of residents, property owners, and business owners backed by Squaw Valley Ski Resort, has also questioned and expressed concerns about the incorporation effort.[37][38]

In November 2015, the Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission announced that its members would vote against incorporation of Olympic Valley. IOV formally withdrew its incorporation petition for Olympic Valley in early December.[39]


Incorporate Olympic Valley (IOV) is under investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for allegedly violating multiple sections of the California Political Reform Act.[37] The allegations relate to IOV's failure to file a statement of organization or monthly campaign statements for at least five months to the commission.[40] Additionally, it is alleged that IOV did not include required disclaimers on campaign advertisements.[40]


  1. Johanson, Mark (July 26, 2012). "5 Olympic Host Cities You've (Probably) Never Heard Of That You'll Want To Visit". International Business Times. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Garduno, Alexis (September 13, 2013). "The Squaw Valley Mining Bust". Moonshine Ink. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Alexander Cushing, Squaw Valley Founder". International Skiing History Association. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  4. Martin, Douglas (August 22, 2006). "Alexander Cushing, 92, Dies; Turned Squaw Valley Into World-Class Skiing Destination". New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Bonanza in the Wilderness.". Time Magazine. February 9, 1959.
  6. McLellan, Dennis (August 22, 2006). "Alexander C. Cushing, 92; Made Squaw Valley Into World Ski Resort". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  7. "PLACES: Squaw Valley". Tahoetopia. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  8. Sonner, Scott (November 24, 2010). "Squaw Valley Renaissance". The Durango Herald. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  9. Duxbury, Sarah (November 10, 2011). "Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth on Alpine, upgrades and attitude". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  10. 1 2 Ecker, Bob (November 13, 2012). "Here's the buzz out West". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  11. Bates, Emily (March 4, 2013). ""Undercover Boss" features President & CEO Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows". The Ski Channel. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  12. Tolme, Paul. "Extreme Makeover – Squaw Valley USA". Snow Magazine. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  13. Renda, Matthew (July 21, 2011). "Squaw Valley USA prepares for a $50 million 'Renaissance'". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  14. "Squaw, Alpine Unite!". California's Adventure Business Journal. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  15. "What's New At Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows". Tahoetopia. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  16. 1 2 Fletcher, Ed (August 13, 2013). "Squaw Valley incorporation effort would name new city Olympic Valley". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  17. "Weatherbase.com". Weatherbase. 2013. Retrieved on July 2, 2013.
  18. 1 2 3 Susan Reifer Ryan (Winter 2012–2013). "Born & Bred". Squaw Magazine.
  19. "Squaw hosting a "welcome home" celebration for Tahoe Olympians on March 21". Sierra FoodWineArt Magazine. March 3, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  20. McLaughlin, Mark (April 9, 2014). "1969 Squaw World Cup and shooting stars". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  21. "U.S. Alpine Championships at Squaw Valley this week". Reno Gazette Journal. March 18, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  22. "2014 U.S. Alpine Championships To Be Held At Tahoe Resort". CBS SF Bay Area. April 24, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  23. Rugh, Pete (March 28, 2009). "Freestyle Nationals: Roark and Wilson claim moguls titles". Ski Racing. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  24. Magana, Katie (March 4, 2013). "Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships at Squaw Valley". The Ski Channel. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  25. "Western States Endurance Run". Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  26. "Squaw Valley and IRONMAN Announce Multi-Year Partnership". Iron Man. April 18, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  27. Brown, Julie (July 22, 2013). "When Wanderlust Comes to Town". Powder. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  28. Krasno, Jeff (April 22, 2014). "Insider's Guide: A Co-Founder's Tips for Wanderlust Squaw Valley". Wanderlust. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  29. Nellemann, Christina (June 3, 2013). "Wanderlust Festival Opens New Yoga Studio at Squaw Valley". 7x7. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  30. Giesin, Dan (March 8, 2007). "Rahlves might miss Ski Tour race at Squaw Valley". SFGate. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  31. Parsons, Tim (July 5, 2012). "Brett Dennen performs as July 4th weekend concert becomes annual event". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  32. McLellan, Dennis (August 11, 1989). "Writers Seminar Began as a 'Drunken Evening'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  33. Magin, Kyle (December 4, 2013). "Alpenglow Winter Film Series Seeks to Inspire". Tahoe Quarterly. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  34. "Olympic Valley residents seek town incorporation". Monterey Herald. January 2, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  35. Moran, Margaret (December 26, 2013). "Effort to create town of Olympic Valley moves ahead". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  36. Moran, Margaret (April 10, 2014). "Squaw CEO questions Olympic Valley finances, viability". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  37. 1 2 3 Moran, Margaret (June 17, 2014). "Opposition to Olympic Valley town effort near Lake Tahoe grows". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  38. "Save Olympic Valley". Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  39. Benjamin Spillman (December 4, 2015). "Squaw-Alpine boss looks to turn page on 'divisive' fight". Reno-Gazette Journal. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  40. 1 2 Moran, Margaret (May 20, 2014). "Tahoe residents allege political violations with Olympic Valley effort". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
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Coordinates: 39°11′47″N 120°14′01″W / 39.19631°N 120.23356°W / 39.19631; -120.23356

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