HEAVENLY SKI RESORT GUIDE
Images courtesy of Heavenly Mountain Resort
Heavenly Ski Resort Overview
Sometimes, the name just fits. Heavenly is California's largest ski resort with 4,800 acres straddling the California-Nevada state border at the South End of Lake Tahoe, just a 3.5-hour drive from San Francisco. The resort has the highest elevation of the Sierra Nevada at 10,067 feet and is a strong contender for having the best scenery of any American ski resort.
Heavenly offers front-row seats to the Lake Tahoe's southern shores and the town of South Lake buzzes with activity. The Nevada side is home to the Stateline casino hotels. The California side (South Lake) is more family-friendly and features luxurious accommodations. We especially enjoy spending the holidays in South Lake. Outside of skiing, there's plenty of entertainment–the casinos host shows and popular comics, and the après scene is second to none.
Terrain features at Heavenly include groomed runs from top to bottom alongside off-piste access gates that send you straight into 20-minute powder runs. Lake views abound. Heavenly sets up well for groups of all abilities. Heavenly is part of Vail Resorts and the Epic Pass is the key to maximizing value here–it offers unlimited days and is perfect for anyone able to navigate peak periods.
Snow-Making & Grooming
On Mountain Dining
Extreme / Off-Piste Terrain
The Heavenly Gondola and many of the slopes deliver unrivaled views of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Between South Lake Tahoe and Stateline there are a range of accommodations with ski-in-out homes, five-star hotels such as Edgewood Tahoe and Zalanta resort, and more budget-friendly options.
Great dining variation. From casual to fine dining, enjoy pizza at Blue Dog, pub fare at the Lake Tahoe Brewery, or choose amongst Thai, Italian, Mexican and more.
This town never sleeps; there are four casinos at the Stateline, Nevada base with loads of entertainment.
The village of South Lake is very family-friendly with dining, ice skating, snowmobile tours, and a theater.
Harder to reach from outside of the Bay Area. There are no direct flights from the east coast.
Crowds. Similar to most major resorts, holiday weekends tend to be packed.
Always check the traffic and weather; there is only one driving lane around the lake, and traffic and even road closures are common.
Green terrain is mostly centered around the base lodges. Comfort with skiing intermediate terrain is required to tour the whole mountain.
Tree skiing abounds and you're likely to find powder stashes too. With steep, deep glades alongside less steep and widely spaced trees, this resort is perfect for honing your tree technique.
Families will have a blast at the tubing park with a 500 foot hill and a mini hill for the little ones. The Alpine Coaster is also a thrill.
Groceries are readily accessible with Whole Foods and Safeway in South Lake.
For off piste skiing, head under the gondola to Firebreak. Before venturing in, familiarize yourself with the route. Then, enjoy a ~20 minute pow run from the top to bottom. The best access points are from the top of Tamarack Chair or the Tubing Hill Chair, both near the top of the Gondola. Access through the gates, only. *Though accessible from the resort, Firebreak is out of bounds and the proper training and rescue equipment needed to be in the backcoutry is essential.
For an in-depth breakdown of the terrain at Heavenly, head to our Mountain Guide. Top trails and mountain stats included.
Getting To & Around
South Lake Tahoe is about an hour from the Reno-Tahoe Airport and 90 minutes from the San Francisco Bay Area. Airport shuttle are readily accessible, you can also drive along the picturesque roads that hug the lake's shoreline, or hop a bus that winds through the Sierra Nevada. A car is not essential once in South Lake.
Closest Major City: South Lake Tahoe or Reno, NV
Reno: Distance: ~38 miles ~ 50 minutes drive
South Lake Tahoe ~3miles ~ 7 minutes drive
Closest Regional Airport: Reno-Tahoe International, NV
~41 miles, ~1 hr drive
Travel by Plane
Closest Major Airports: Reno-Tahoe International Airport
~41 miles, ~1 hour drive
Closest Airport: Lake Tahoe Aiport (private plane accessible)
~4 miles, ~20 minute drive
Travel By Bus
The Blue GO and TTD lines will take you around South Lake Tahoe and Heavenly.
South Tahoe Airporter provides an airport shuttle service.
Travel by Car
Cars are not essential if staying in South Lake or the sourrounding area.
A vehicle with 4-wheel drive is preferred.
Cars are needed to visit neigboring resorts.
Ubers and Lyfts are accessible.
Parking is $10 per day in Heavenly (But there is free parking in the casino lots).