- 22 Resorts
- Consistent Snow
- Diverse destinations
- Resorts open before those of many other states
- Home to Vail, Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain
Few ski resorts can match Heavenly's scenic beauty and expansive network of lifts, terrain, trails and snowmaking. Located on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, Heavenly is the region's largest ski area, featuring the highest elevation and longest vertical drop. The views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountain range are magnificent.
The mountain averages 360 inches of annual snowfall covering 4,800 skiable acres and a 3,500-foot vertical drop. Sitting on the border of California and Nevada that you can actually ski across, it’s easy to find a variety of entertainment and nightlife after a day on the slopes at Heavenly. The resort offers options for après ski, from its Tamarack Lodge to the surrounding south Lake Tahoe area. Heavenly’s top-notch terrain combined with world-class luxury make it a skier and snowboarder favorite.
There are two ways to attack the mountain that depend on the weather and from which side (California or Nevada) you start skiing. Mild temperatures at lake level can necessitate heading for the top where snow is lighter, but if temps are cold down low, then options are bountiful. Setting out from California Lodge, take Gunbarrel lift and bag a quick lap through the well-spaced trees of East Bowl Woods. Ride Gunbarrel lift back up and board the mid-mountain Powderbowl Express, disembarking to the right for Powder Bowl Woods—an often-overlooked tree stash at mid-mountain. When Powder Bowl Woods are worked, ride Canyon Express to the top and descend beneath the lift to the trees of Ridge Bowl. Take Sky Express back up and drop down the fall line into the trees to skier’s right of Liz’s run. If starting from Heavenly Village, take the gondola to mid-mountain and board Tamarack Express, heading skier’s right to access Airies Woods, which drop you out at Dipper Express lift. Ride Dipper to the terminus and ski toward Dipper Woods and Milky Way. By this time, patrol will hopefully have opened the gates to some of Heavenly’s sickest terrain—Mott Canyon, where skilled skiers can find steep chutes and rock drops. While waiting for Mott to open, hit the Dipper Knob area to skier’s right of Meteor trail. Adjacent to Mott is the equally ferocious Killebrew Canyon, typically the last terrain to open, so be prepared to pounce when it does.
Groomers & Family
No Tahoe resort has a bigger grooming fleet than Heavenly, which means an abundance of options for beginners and intermediates. From the gondola terminus, take Tamarack Express and do a warm-up lap on California Trail or Sam’s Dream. Go back up Tamarack and drop into Orion and the East Peak area, served by the Dipper and Comet lifts. Cruise the Comet trail and take the lift back up, this time skiing down Crossover to the Olympic Express lift, which offers a run through the wide-open glades of The Pines. If starting on the California side, head to the top of Liz’s run off the Sky Express lift, making sure to look over your shoulder at Lake Tahoe. Take Sky back up and descend Ridge Run, which offers some of the mountain’s most amazing lake views. Stop off to the side and grab a photo. Beginners can head for Maggie’s run served by the Powderbowl Express lift. Maggie’s meanders down to the “Snow Beach” area, where a small food shack offers hot chocolate and snacks, and beach chairs provide a relaxed setting for families to meet up while doing laps on different lifts. Newbies who want beginner trails only should stick to the Boulder Lodge area, a little-trafficked ski area within the resort that features a gentle, wide-open bowl for working on pizza turns and skiing with the kids.
Heavenly has multiple parks designed to serve everyone from beginners to go-big huckers. For first-timers and rookies, the progression park near the gondola terminus offers low boxes and rails that are almost flush with the snow to eliminate the fear factor. Groove Park is the most popular, offering smaller features for beginners and intermediates—though experienced boarders and jibbers often start here with some warm-up runs or to practice moves. Groove is set up like a skate park, with a lot of features packed into a small area. Player’s Park (off Ridge Run) and Ante Up Park (beneath Tamarack Express) are classified as medium in terms of their features. Player’s has a line of triple jumps and progressive jibs. Ante Up’s claim to fame is a jib line featuring old water pipes and recycled scrap items that provide a unique vibe. High Roller is where the fearless go to play, with expert-level hits and gaps that provide a show for people riding the Sky chair. High Roller has a 55-foot and a 65-foot jump, as well as playful touches, such as tire stacks for clearing or tapping on the way by.
Lap the Powderbowl Express lift, hitting the bumps of Waterfall run, then take Sky Chair to the summit and swoosh down the fast groomers of Ellie’s and High Five. Now it’s time for a short hike. Traverse Sky Line trail (due to its width, Heavenly requires some traversing to get from California to Nevada and back) to the bottom of Milky Way Bowl. Unclick just past the sign on Sky Line Trail and follow the boot pack up to the summit of Monument Peak, which at 10,067 feet is Tahoe’s highest in-bounds terrain. Drop straight down the middle of Milky Way Bowl or work to skier’s right toward Mott and Killebrew canyons. If you want to avoid the agro conditions in Mott and Killebrew but need some off-piste fun, check out the tree runs and pillow drops through Nevada Woods and The Burn—where charred trees from a fire provide a stark beauty and powder stashes await those willing to explore. Wrap up with a finishing run down The Face or a tree run through East Bowl Woods back to the California lodge.
Conveniently located in Heavenly Village, Seattle’s Best Coffee shop is the quickest option for early risers who want to grab a coffee and muffin and beeline it for the gondola.
Red Hut is a Tahoe breakfast institution with three locations including the original shop opened in 1959 and the more conveniently located new café on the corner of Ski Run and Lake Tahoe boulevards. The omelets are great, but waffles—including bacon waffles with the crispy strips cooked right in—are the house favorite.
Featuring a towering wall of windows, massive wooden beams and a modern-mountain design, the new Tamarack Lodge atop the gondola is a model for energy efficiency and pleasing aesthetics. Choose from a selection of meats smoked on site, artisan pizzas, salads, burgers, Asian bowls and chili, with indoor and outdoor seating. Named for the legendary youth ski team that produced Glen Plake and other past greats, Blue Angel Cafe is a short drive from the California base and is a favorite local’s spot due to its innovative menu and affordable prices. Try the curry of the day or the daily True Blue Plate Special for $6, and don’t skip the sweet potato fries with homemade aioli
1132 Ski Run Blvd
With a spacious and modern décor, the Edgewood Tahoe Restaurant provides unimpeded views of Lake Tahoe from every table and is located at the South Shore’s finest golf course. House favorites include the seared elk steak with sun-dried cherry relish and spaetzle, or the marinated bavette steak.
100 Lake Parkway
Stateline, NV 89449
Located near the marina and several art galleries for after-dinner browsing, Riva Grill is a local’s favorite with décor inspired by Tahoe’s summertime wooden boating culture. Cocktails include the famous Wet Woody, and the menu features upscale burgers and fish tacos as well as the signature chimichurri pork tenderloin.
900 Ski Run Blvd
4000 Lake Tahoe Blvd
Located right out of the California base, The Face is a double-black mogul run unforgiving in its steepness. It drops 1,700 vertical feet into the equally challenging Gunbarrel and East Bowl moguls. These are the bump runs made famous by former hot-dogger Glen Plake, who holds the annual Gunbarrel 25 event here that challenges skiers to complete 25 thigh-burning laps.