Squaw Valley, Placer County, California

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Squaw Valley
Olympic Valley
Sign at entrance to Squaw Valley
Sign at entrance to Squaw Valley
Squaw Valley is located in California
Squaw Valley
Squaw Valley
Location in California
Squaw Valley is located in the United States
Squaw Valley
Squaw Valley
Squaw Valley (the United States)
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
 • Total823
 • Density15/km2 (39/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-08:00 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-07:00 (Pacific)

Squaw Valley (also known as Olympic Valley) is an unincorporated community located in Placer County, California northwest of Tahoe City along California State Highway 89 on the banks of the Truckee River near Lake Tahoe. It is home to Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley Ski Resort), the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Squaw Valley is the smallest resort area to host the Olympic Winter Games.[2]


Native American Washoe people used the valley as a summer tribal ground before the 1849 California Gold Rush. When westward bound travelers first encountered the valley, they saw only women and children as most of the men were away hunting and so called it Squaw Valley.[3] Squaw is a term used historically for Native American women that is today considered an offensive ethnic slur.[4][5][6][7]

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.[8] 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.[8] 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.[9] During his vacation, Cushing toured Squaw Valley at Poulsen's invitation and decided to invest in building a ski resort there.[9] 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[10] and Cushing replaced Poulsen as president of the Squaw Valley Development Corporation by October 1949.[11] Squaw Valley Ski Resort opened on Thanksgiving Day 1949.[12] The resort was constructed with $400,000 raised by Cushing, including $150,000 of his own money.[11] The creation of the Squaw Valley Development Corporation and Squaw Valley Ski Resort mark the modern era of Squaw Valley.[13]

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.[11] 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.[11] In anticipation of the Olympics, the official name was changed to Olympic Valley in 1960.[14] The 1960 Winter Olympics were the first Winter Olympics to be televised live and attracted millions of viewers.

In 2010, Squaw Valley Ski Resort was acquired by KSL Capital Partners, terming what they called a “renaissance” for Olympic Valley.[15][16][17][18] With its acquisition, KSL 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.[19][20][21] Investments include upgrading chair lifts and snow-making and grooming equipment.[17][22]

In 2016, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings submitted a final application for entitlements for its proposed Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan, a $1 billion plan that prompted the Attorney General of California to write a letter of concern to Placer County.[23] The plan would include 850 hotel and condominium units[24] and a 96-foot-tall “Mountain Adventure Camp” [25] featuring a year-round indoor waterpark.[26] According to the environmental review for the project, new development is projected to add 3,300 new car trips to local roads on peak days, and the project would have 20 “significant but unavoidable” impacts.[27]

Sierra Watch, a California-based conservation advocacy group, started a grassroots campaign to “Keep Squaw True”, holding public events and circulating an on-line petition in opposition to KSL Capital Partners' proposed expansion plan.[28][29]

In November 2016, the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved KSL's controversial development proposal[30][31] in spite of opposition from local conservation organizations, including Sierra Watch.[32] Sierra Watch filed suit to overturn those approvals for violating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in December 2016.[33]

In 2017, resort owners added a roller coaster to their development proposal.[34]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2016 (est.)823[1]−39.8%


The climate of Squaw Valley is classified as Dsb (Continental Mediterranean Climate) under the Köppen Climate Classification.[35] Summertime is generally mild to warm, with cool nights, and winter time is cold and snowy.

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) 260
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 10 5 9 8 5 2 2 1 2 1 5 9 59
Source: Weatherbase [36]


Skiing and racing culture has been important to Squaw 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.[37] Because of this, Squaw Valley has taken the moniker "Official Supplier of skiers to the US Ski Team."[37][38] 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.[37]

Notable winter athletes from Olympic Valley include:

In addition to hosting the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, Squaw Valley played host to the 1969 FIS World Cup alpine skiing races.[39] It also hosted the US Alpine Championships in the years 2002, 2013 and 2014 and the US Freestyle Championships in 2009.[40][41][42][43] 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.[44] The 2013 and 2014 Ironman Lake Tahoe triathlon also began and ended in Olympic Valley.[45]

Arts and culture[edit]

Squaw Valley has hosted the Wanderlust Festival, a music and yoga festival, annually since 2009.[46][47] Other musical performances held in Squaw 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.[48][49][50]

Squaw Valley is home to the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the organizers of the Squaw Valley Writer's Conference,[51] and the Squaw Valley Institute.[52] The Institute aims to foster "uncommon conversations" and hosts speaker events and other cultural events.[52] 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.[53]


Squaw Valley is an unincorporated area located in Placer County, California. Placer County services the area.[54]

Incorporation efforts[edit]

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.[55] Proponents of incorporation originally wanted to include Alpine Meadows, California in its efforts, but the citizens of Alpine Meadows rejected the proposal.[35]

In December 2013, IOV submitted a formal application to the LAFCO which outlined the boundaries of the town they are proposing.[56] Squaw Valley Ski Resort submitted a request to the Placer County LAFCO asking that it be excluded from the proposed town in April 2014.[57] 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.[58] 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.[58][59]

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.[60]

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.[58] 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.[61] Additionally, it is alleged that IOV did not include required disclaimers on campaign advertisements.[61]


  1. ^ a b http://www.bestplaces.net/people/zip-code/california/olympic_valley/96146
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Scott, Edward B. (1957). The saga of Lake Tahoe; a complete documentation of Lake Tahoe's development over the last one hundred years. Crystal Bay, Nev., Sierra-Tahoe Pub. Co. pp. 5–6.
  4. ^ Chelsea, Vowel (2016). Indigenous writes : a guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit issues in Canada. Winnipeg, Manitoba. ISBN 9781553796800. OCLC 951552526.
  5. ^ Do all Indians live in tipis? : questions and answers from the National Museum of the American Indian. National Museum of the American Indian (U.S.) (1st ed.). New York: Collins, in association with the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. 2007. ISBN 9780061153013. OCLC 79256870.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ "SQUAW - Facts on the Eradication of the "S" Word". Western North Carolina Citizens For An End To Institutional Bigotry. Retrieved 2017-12-10. When people ask "why now?" explain that: Through communication and education American Indian people have come to understand the derogatory meaning of the word. American Indian women claim the right to define ourselves as women and we reject the offensive term squaw.
  7. ^ "the definition of squaw". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
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  11. ^ a b c d "Bonanza in the Wilderness". Time Magazine. February 9, 1959.
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  25. ^ Id. at pg. B-22, Development Standards and Guidelines, Placer County
  26. ^ Id at pg. 3–13, The Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan, Placer County
  27. ^ Placer County Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) 3.2.4-326, Prepared by Ascent Environmental for Placer County, April 19, 2016.
  28. ^ Action – Sierra Watch
  29. ^ Brannan, Brad (April 19, 2016). "Squaw Valley chief faces community opposition to expansion", The Sacramento Bee.
  30. ^ Press Release (November 15, 2016). "Placer County Supervisors approve Village at Squaw Valley Project", Placer County E-News.
  31. ^ Fimrite, Peter (November 16, 2016). "Huge Squaw Valley expansion approved, but meets with objections", The San Francisco Chronicle.
  32. ^ Brannan, Brad (June 6, 2016). "Proposed high-rises generate Squaw Valley controversy", The Sacramento Bee.
  33. ^ Brannan, Brad (December 15, 2016). "Environmentalists challenge Squaw Valley expansion", The Sacramento Bee.
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  36. ^ "Weatherbase.com". Weatherbase. 2013. Retrieved on July 2, 2013.
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  39. ^ McLaughlin, Mark (April 9, 2014). "1969 Squaw World Cup and shooting stars". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
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  45. ^ "Squaw Valley and IRONMAN Announce Multi-Year Partnership". Iron Man. April 18, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
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  53. ^ Magin, Kyle (December 4, 2013). "Alpenglow Winter Film Series Seeks to Inspire". Tahoe Quarterly. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
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  61. ^ a b Moran, Margaret (May 20, 2014). "Tahoe residents allege political violations with Olympic Valley effort". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2014.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°11′47″N 120°14′01″W / 39.19631°N 120.23356°W / 39.19631; -120.23356