Heavenly Lake Tahoe is definitely the resort I’ve spent the most time at. It’s where I’ve had a pass most years, it’s where most of my friends ski and ride, it’s where I learned to snowboard, and it is freaking gorgeous!
It is located right in the town of South Lake Tahoe, and while I was living there, it was close enough to my office that we could go and get a couple of runs in over lunch. You can access Heavenly from the California side or a couple places on the Nevada: the Gondola in Heavenly Village and Stagecoach Lodge.
One of the coolest things about Heavenly is that you can ski in both Nevada and California in the same day! You also get a great visualization of the rain shadow effect. Heavenly has a ton of terrain – one of my other favorite aspects.
Here’s a few facts:
- This year is Heavenly’s 60th Anniversary.
- It’s now owned by Vail Resorts which owns and runs a ton of other ski areas in California, Colorado, Utah, and internationally
- Heavenly has 97 trails covering 4,800 skiable acres – the most in Tahoe!
- Heavenly tops out at 10,067 feet and ski down 3,500 vertical feet.
- It’s the only resort in Tahoe that has terrain in California and Nevada.
Here’s my take on Heavenly-
- Like I said earlier, there is a ton of terrain. Even when it is crowded in certain areas, you can usually get away from that and find somewhat solitude.
- There is something for everyone: beginner friendly – to the epic Mott & Killebrew Canyons.
- Did I mention that the views are amazing?
- It’s convenience to South Lake Tahoe can’t be beat. Basically, if you live in South Lake, that’s where you want to have a pass.
- The Tahoe Local/Value Passes are an INCREDIBLE deal. You get 7 day a week access to Heavenly, and either 7 day or Sun – Fri access to Northstar and Kirkwood. (I love Sugar Bowl, but, man, I miss that deal!)
- You can track your vert over the course of the season with Epic Mix. Your pass scans automatically and it will keep track of the lifts you ride at any Vail Resort.
- They have photographers stationed on the mountain through Epic Mix Photo to take pictures of you and your friends. They’ll scan your pass, and the pictures will show up on your account. No more selfies needed.
- It’s convenience means that it can be CROWDED. On a Saturday, there’s often a huge line backing up Powder Bowl and Sky chairs.
- While there’s lots of beginner friendly terrain, the crowds can make things stressful for new riders and skiers. I know other people, especially on narrow trails made me super nervous.
- If you’re on a snowboard, prepare to do a lot of traversing. There are quite a few flat areas that you’ll need to cross in the course of a day at Heavenly. There are places you can keep your speed up, but the crowds often make that impossible in others.
- Heavenly has really embraced the nightlife, Nevada, casino side of things with its after parties and the Heavenly Angels. I guess that could be a pro or con, depending on how you feel, but I’m not a huge fan.
- Food/drinks are expensive! Bring your own.
- Want to access the Nevada side on a busy weekend day? Drive up Kingsbury Grade and park at Stagecoach Lodge. Note: if it’s snowy, only attempt if you feel comfortable with narrow, steep, slick mountain driving and have a proper vehicle.
- If you’re starting on the California side, take Sky chair all the way to the top and go down Ridge Run for a warm up with killer views.
- My favorite runs on the California side are Ellie’s, Liz’s and Powder Bowl Woods. In Nevada, I like everything off of Galaxy chair.
I really enjoy Heavenly, and it will always have a special place in my heart since I learned to snowboard there. It can be crowded and expensive, but its expansive terrain and killer views mean that you can get away from the crowds and really enjoy yourself.
Where to Stay: Basecamp Hotel is adorable! I’ve never stayed there, but I’ve toured the theme rooms during events and hung out at the bar. Plus, there are free s’mores! There are also a ton of vacation rentals and Air BnBs in South Lake Tahoe too.