Heavenly’s gondola starts in downtown South Lake and ends at some of the highest lift-accessible peaks in all of Lake Tahoe. If your idea of the perfect snowboard vacation combines great riding with spectacular views, tons of dining and shopping, and bonkers nightlife, Heavenly is one of the best destinations in the country.
Where to Ride
The gondola is a short stroll out of downtown South Lake, and takes you to the base area at Tamarack Lodge. From here, the lifts sprawl upwards, and the majority of Heavenly’s 4,630 acres point towards the lake, on account of those spectacular panoramic views you see on all the postcards.
Boasting over 97 trails and 28 chairlifts, you won’t be in any danger of running out of new terrain to explore. Get your day started right with a ride up the Sky Express. Its 10,067′ elevation is the highest of any in the Lake Tahoe Basin and provides a wealth of opportunities for hard riding below. Our advice? Jump in the glades where snow will stick around longer, providing ample face shots and reasons to high five.
If the park is more your speed, cruise rider’s left on Ridge Run from the top and make your way to High Roller Park, where you’ll find enough jumps, rails, and features to make your head (and board) spin. Once you have had your fill up top, make your way over to the Dipper Express and Mott Canyon lifts, where steeper-than-steep chutes and hiking zones are abundant. If you plan to enter the side country, make sure you have the proper gear, are trained in how to use it, and go with someone who knows the area. Heavenly might be known as a great blend of riding and partying, but backcountry zones like Hully Gully and Widow Maker are no joke.
If you’re spent, don’t let anyone guilt you out of taking gondola down for a few more of those spectacular views. If you’ve been guilted into riding all the way down via Gunbarrel (sucker!), be prepared for one of California’s most notorious mogul runs. It will buck like you’ve never been bucked before, but all the cheers you’ll get from the chair make it worth the effort.
Where to Eat
Because Heavenly is connected directly to South Lake’s buzzing shopping and restaurant district, no one will look at you funny if you’re cruising the streets in your riding gear. And if you’re hungry, you’re in luck.Himmel Haus is a German restaurant and bierhaus with not only a ton of German and Belgian beer, but also a simple and satisfying menu of classic Bavarian food. They also get extra points for running one of the best puns in marketing: “Tahoe’s Würst Experience.”
If you’re not looking to get your sausage on, try Social House Craft Sandwiches. This chef-driven deli concept is known for premium meats and cheeses on freshly baked bread, and they even include a bunch of unique vegetarian options. There’s also a full bar featuring booze (and non-booze) slushies. All of this is wrapped up in a uniquely refreshing atmosphere complete with live music. We’ve also heard rumors of a high-end, secret bar somewhere in the back, so you will need to do some exploring once there.
Where to Stay
We recommend you check out the Zalanta Resort at the Village. Steps away from the gondola, these resort condos are plush, with beautiful interiors and large private balconies. They’re not cheap, but they are big, so you’re rolling with a big enough crew you can make the experience affordable. If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, The Ridge Resorts in Tahoe are the only on-mountain lodging option available and have rooms available for under a yard a night–make sure to book your stay early though, these rooms fill up quick.
What You’ll Pay
If you have an Epic Pass, Heavenly is included. Online advance tickets run around $117, or you can go old school and buy a day of ticket at the window for around $132.