Overlooking South Lake Tahoe on the border between California and Nevada, Heavenly certainly lives up to its name. Thrilling trails, tranquil views, and the lively buzz of a casino resort combine to make this destination one of America’s most unique spots for skiing. This week we’re shining our spotlight on Heavenly and talking about why it’s one of our favourite resorts.
You’ll want to pack your GoPro for this trip. Not just for the challenging, tree-lined slopes, but for the truly mesmerising landscapes. Once you’re up in the mountains you can turn one way and see the deep, pristine waters of Lake Tahoe. Glance in the other direction, and you’ll be able to take in the dusty deserts of Nevada—a strange experience when you’re surrounded by pines and powder.
Non-skiers—or those taking a break—can still enjoy Heavenly’s unique sights by taking a ride on the gondola. The Observation Deck is a prime place to stop and admire the lake and Sierra but stay on board to reach Tamarack Lodge at the top of the mountain. There’s live music from Monday to Thursday and a huge après-ski party on Fridays and Saturdays.
If bagging new destinations is your hobby, you’ll be able to tick California and Nevada off after a day on Heavenly’s slopes. On the Nevadan side of the mountain, you’ll find some seriously steep runs, with the single-diamond Milky Way Bowl providing a nice taster for the tough double-diamond pistes underneath. The nail-bitingly narrow Mott Canyon will test even the most experienced skiers, with dense trees and tight turns.
The Californian side is a little tamer, but still has plenty to challenge intermediates and experts. The Ridge Run cruises gently down from the top of the mountain, with all-encompassing views of Lake Tahoe along its entire length. This is an experience you’ll want to repeat, and if you manage it ten times after 12pm you’ll earn yourself the Afternoon Delight badge on the EpicMix app.
When the snow falls in Heavenly, devotees head straight for the forest. Heavenly’s well-spaced tree line is beloved by advanced skiers, especially when there’s a fresh layer of powder on the ground. The Pinnacles—an entire ridge covered with greenery—is the place to go for the best glade runs. Two trails carve through the woods, but experts can swerve into the pines for an added challenge.
If you’d rather kick back and relax as you whizz down the mountain, book your space on the resort’s tubing trail. Heavenly is home to one of America’s best tubing hills, which has a handy magic carpet to take tubers back to the top after they’ve reached the bottom of the 500-foot slope.
When après-ski rolls around, head to the base of the mountain. Drink deals are abound in Heavenly, with free on-the-snow craft beer tasting at TAP and happy hour offers on both sides of the border. Get a taste of Las Vegas in glitzy casinos like Hard Rock, which hosts live entertainment and has a 25,000 square foot casino floor. For a unique cultural experience, try your hand at craps—this popular dice game can be confusing at first, but it’s easy to make friends with the enthusiastic Americans gathered around the table.
The area has a lot to offer, so while you’re there, take advantage of some extra sightseeing. South Lake Tahoe is a three-hour drive from California’s Napa Valley wine region, which made world headlines in 1976 when its wines beat French producers in the prestigious Paris Tasting’s blind test.
Just south of Napa is one of America’s most vibrant cities: San Francisco. Renowned for its excellent food scene, breathtaking scenery and bohemian attitude, it’s well worth spending 48 hours in San Francisco to recoup after carving your way down the slopes of Heavenly. With our San Francisco and Heavenly package, everything is organised for you—all you need to do is turn up and enjoy.