Lake Tahoe is one of the USA's premier vacation playgrounds and Heavenly is this region's premier ski resort; one of more than a dozen in the peaks that encircle this famous and beautiful high-altitude expanse of pure water.
Located at the south-eastern corner of the lake, the principal base area of Heavenly is a purpose-built city block that creates a snowsports-focused oasis in the midst of the buzzing little city of South Lake Tahoe.
The north-eastern end of the city straddles the stateline between California and Nevada; gambling is permitted in Nevada but not in California, so the resort has somewhat of a split personality, with huge casinos and casino-hotels only on the Nevada side of its Stateline Avenue, just a couple of streets away from Heavenly's gondola base terminal. Apres ski and nightlife here are therefore on a completely unique scale in comparison with any other ski resort.
There are no home-run pistes to this city base, the gondola here provides uplift and download to/from Heavenly's ski area that lies to the south-east, there are however three other slope-side bases further out of the city: California Lodge base area is just a couple of kilometres away in the city's suburbs; Stagecoach Lodge base area and its satellite Boulder Lodge sit close together in the district of Kingsbury out to the east in Nevada; Heavenly's ski area spans the Californian and the Nevadan slopes of the mountains.
The views across Lake Tahoe from the upper slopes at Heavenly are some of the best in the world and are a highlight feature of the area; the views towards the desert in the opposite direction are pretty special too.
Another unique feature of Heavenly's ski area is that it straddles the state-line between California and Nevada, with pistes that flow between the two states; so if you wish you can ski across from California for lunch and a flutter on the slot machines at one of the lodges on the Nevada side.
The ski area offers a great variety of terrain, the vast majority of it on attractively wooded slopes; the relative proximity of the Pacific Ocean to these high peaks of the Sierra Nevada blesses this region with an impressive snowfall record, Heavenly also boasts a vast network of snowmaking equipment to assist Mother Nature if needed.
The best of the various beginners' areas are those at the top of the main Heavenly gondola and at the top of the cable car at the California Lodge sector; these mid-altitude sites allow first-timers to share in the thrill and the views afforded by being up in the high Sierras.
Heavenly is best suited to intermediate skiers and snowboarders, who have their pick of virtually every pisted run and should be able to tackle some of the open glade areas too; the Skyline and Ridge Run blue runs are renowned for their fabulous views across Lake Tahoe, whilst the long cruise-able 'groomers' on the Nevada side give the impression of riding off into the desert.
Advanced skilled visitors will of course also appreciate the great scenery, but Heavenly's real attractions for more experienced skiers and riders are its steep mogul runs down to California Lodge and the double-diamond classified craggy chutes of the ungroomed Killebrew and Mott Canyons on the Nevada side of the mountains.
Off the slopes and apres ski
Depending on where you choose to base yourself, Heavenly can offer a choice of either downtown city buzz or quieter slope-side convenience. Most visitors choose to base themselves in and around Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe; this purpose-built 'village' is centred on the gondola base terminal and has a pedestrian plaza with equipment hire shops and retail outlets, a couple of lively bars, an ice rink and a multi-screen cinema, alongside two big hotels, surrounded by the bustling streets of the city.
Apres ski at the bars at the top and bottom of the gondola and at the bar over at the California Lodge base is animated and fun, plus there are masses of good bars and restaurants throughout South Lake Tahoe in which to spend the evenings.
But the main focus for nightlife is provided by the huge casinos just a couple of blocks away in the Stateline suburb on Nevada territory, most of which have great-value restaurants, fun bars and nightclubs; the MontBleu also hosts Vegas-style shows featuring famous headline acts.
NB: 21 is the minimum legal age to buy/consume alcohol in California and Nevada; bars on the California side generally close at around 01:00 hrs, but on the Nevada side many operate 24:7.
Bars and clubs
Cabo Waba Cantina