Few ski resorts can match Heavenly Ski Resort’s scenic beauty and expansive network of lifts, terrain, trails, and snowmaking. Located in South Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border, Heavenly is the region's largest ski area, featuring the highest elevation at 10,067 feet and the longest vertical drop.
With an average of 360 inches of snowfall per year, Heavenly gets some of the best snow in North America. Even better, bluebird days are enjoyed 300 days a year on average. Plus, the views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountain range are magnificent.
Heavenly is about three hours from San Francisco (without traffic) and an hour from Reno. It was founded in 1955 and is spread between four base areas: Stagecoach Lodge (local’s spot), Boulder Lodge (best for beginners), CA Heavenly Village/Gondola (best for walking to and from the slopes), and California Base Lodge (best variety and most parking). From wide-open groomed cruisers to 1,600-foot plunges in the double-black-diamond canyons and some of the most outrageous tree skiing in North America, there’s something for everyone at Heavenly.
Visit one of the many cozy craft breweries and coffee shops in South Lake Tahoe.
Go ice skating at the Heavenly Village outdoor ice skating rink.
Book a snowy winter sleigh ride (complete with wool blankets and hot cocoa) at South Lake’s Camp Richardson Corral, which has been leading scenic trail rides since 1934.
Hit up the casino. Because if you went to Nevada and didn’t gamble, did you really even go? Four resorts dominate the South Lake Tahoe gambling scene: Harvey’s Resort and Casino, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and the MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa.
Experience some of the greatest views of Lake Tahoe with a 2.4-mile Scenic Gondola Ride. Hop on at Heavenly Village and stop at the Observation Deck at the top for panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Ride the Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster. This gravity-powered alpine coaster is open in the winter (ski boots are permitted) and coasts through the forest and natural rock formations. Of course, the views are incredible. The coaster sleds fit up to two riders, so you can enjoy this activity with others.
Head to the top of the Gondola for a guided winter UTV tour. You’ll traverse over to Blue Sky Terrace, stopping at highlights along the way for interesting information about the area and beautiful views.
New Year’s Eve at Heavenly is an experience you won’t want to miss. The annual SnowGlobe Music Festival combines world-famous musicians with the world’s best snow conditions. Heavenly’s Gondola Ball Drop and fireworks start at 9:00 pm, in time for the midnight Ball Drop in New York City’s Time Square. The party continues into the night at one of the many casino nightclubs.
South Lake Tahoe’s Spring Loaded event brings together the best of spring and winter with live music, loud outfits, lodging specials, and restaurant deals for three weeks of sun and fun. Festivities include on-mountain events at Heavenly Mountain Resort, Kirkwood Mountain, Sierra-at-Tahoe, happy hour specials, mid-week entertainment, and live events and guest performers.
Heavenly offers lessons for children, teens, and adults. You can also choose from small group sessions, private guided experiences, and more to fit your needs.
Heavenly Day Care is a licensed child care center for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years, with an optional ski component for children ages 3-5 years. They provide a play-based, safe and fun-filled environment for your little one to enjoy so that your entire family can have an experience of a lifetime out on the snow.
Red Hut is a Tahoe breakfast institution with three locations, including the original shop that 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 Tamarack Lodge atop the Heavenly gondola is a model for energy efficiency and pleasing aesthetics. Choose from a selection of foods ranging from pizza to pasta to everything in between, with indoor and outdoor seating.
Named for the legendary youth ski team that produced Glen Plake and other past skiing greats, Blue Angel Café is a short drive from the California base and is a favorite local spot due to its innovative menu and affordable prices. Try the curry of the day or the daily True Blue Plate Special, and don’t skip the sweet potato fries with homemade aioli.
19 Kitchen Bar on the 19th floor of Harvey’s casino offers some of the best views of the lake, a VIP seating area, hardwood grill and a small but select menu of American seafood and steak specialties. Start with a Tahoe-tini, order the Chilean sea bass or filet mignon, and don’t forget the homemade donuts for dessert.
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.
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.
With gourmet pizzas, salads and pasta dishes, Blue Dog Pizza is a short walk from Gondola Square in the Raley’s shopping plaza, across the street from Heavenly Village.
Known as a 24-hour party town due to its casino nightclubs, blackjack tables, and drink specials, South Lake Tahoe offers loads of opportunity for naughty nights.
McP’s Pub is a local’s hangout with a covered and heated outdoor deck and a wide selection of beers.
Located in Heavenly Village near the skating rink, Fire + Ice serves classic and fruity martinis and has an outdoor patio with fire pits for enjoying the sunset.
Late-nighters and bridesmaids on a bender should head to Opal in the MontBleu casino, where the music thumps until morning and scantily-clad dancers shimmy on mini-stages beneath flashing lights.
A 75-minute drive away, Reno-Tahoe Airport is the closest and most convenient airport, with daily nonstops on Alaska Airlines from Los Angeles and Seattle, American Airlines from Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago, and Delta from Salt Lake City.
Sacramento International Airport is 2.5 hours away—longer if it’s snowing—and should only be considered in the unlikely circumstance that there are no flights available into Reno.
From the Airport:
South Tahoe Express (866-89-TAHOE) offers 11 daily shuttles ($27 one-way adults, $15 children) from Reno-Tahoe to the casino hotels and Embassy Suites on the South Shore strip near Heavenly Village, where taxis can be easily hailed if headed off the beaten path. For those in need of a car, Heavenly provides rental deals through Hertz.
No car is necessary if staying on casino row or near pedestrian-friendly Heavenly Village, which offers shopping and dining and easy access to the gondola.
South Lake Tahoe’s free public Blue Go busses are clean-emissions vehicles that transport half a million people yearly, stopping at all the major hotels and connecting Heavenly’s base areas.