Skiing in Heavenly
The largest resort in the region and one of the largest in the US, Heavenly has 4,800 acres (1,943 ha) of skiable terrain offering something for every level of skier or snowboarder.
Heavenly Ski Area Overview
Discover the many sides of Heavenly, from the awe-inspiring scenic beauty and the heart-stopping Mott and Killebrew Canyons in Nevada to the gentle wide-open cruisers and beginner areas at California Base Lodge. With 4,800 acres (1,943 ha) of skiable terrain, plus the area’s highest elevation at 10,067 (3,068 m) feet and the longest vertical drop of 3,500 ft, there’s something for every level of skier or snowboarder. Moreover, with an average 360 inches (914 cm) annual snowfall, boosted by the West Coast’s largest artificial snowmaking system covering 70% of trails, there should be no concerns about lack of snow.
Beginners can enjoy the secluded beginner areas, intermediates the miles of wide-open cruisers and famous corduroy, and experts can take to the gladed runs, the backcountry experience in the canyons and the famous moguls of The Face and Gunbarrel. From the top of the Heavenly Gondola, skiers and snowboarders can ski or ride both the California and Nevada sides of the mountain or enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or snowtubing at Heavenly’s Adventure Peak. You need to return to the state from which you started out by 3:30 pm.
Beginner Skiing in Heavenly
Although Heavenly does not have many beginner trails, the ones it does have are generally on the upper portion of the mountain, so beginners can enjoy an incredible view of Lake Tahoe just as more advanced skiers do.
Heavenly has the advantage that many of the beginner trails are on the upper portions of the mountain, so beginners can enjoy an incredible view of Lake Tahoe as well as of the whole ski area. Beginners have an exclusive secluded area near California Base Lodge, known as the Enchanted Forest. On the Nevada side, Boulder Bowl, right above the Boulder Lodge, is another beginner friendly area, and on the upper portion of the mountain, beginners can enjoy the Easy trails right next to Tamarack Lodge, as well as Maggie’s Trail off the Powderbowl Express.
Intermediate Skiing in Heavenly
The majority of Heavenly’s trails are designated Intermediate terrain, giving intermediate skiers vast access to Lake Tahoe’s largest resort and best views.
Heavenly is famous for wide-open cruisers and incredible corduroy, perfect for carving those early morning turns. Most of the blue trails are long cruisers, with stunning views of Lake Tahoe. Intermediates can access almost every area of the mountain.
For a great way to start the day, take the Sky Express quad, reachable from the top of the Heavenly Gondola, and cruise down Skyline Trail or Ridge Run, and take in the spectacular views of the Lake. The blues off the top of Dipper Express or Tamarack Express, including California Trail, Big Dipper are also fantastic. Olympic Downhill, which runs under the Olympic Express, is also a must-ski to either Stagecoach or Boulder Lodge.
Advanced & Expert Skiing in Heavenly
Heavenly’s expert terrain offers advanced skiers light, dry snow and gladed trails where powder stashes can be found days after a storm.
In California, black diamond trails Gunbarrel and The Face are famous for 1,700 vertical feet (510 m) of unrelenting moguls, while in Nevada, Mott and Killebrew canyons offer a true backcountry experience complete with double black diamond chutes, gladed runs and plenty of steeps!
As Lake Tahoe’s highest resort, Heavenly is famous for its light, dry snow and the gladed trails where powder stashes can be found days after a storm. The best powder is normally found in Nevada on the Dipper woods and Aires woods, and the trees off Stagecoach and North Bowl. In California powder stashes are to be found in Powderbowl wood and Maggie’s Canyon, Ridge Bowl and off of Liz’s run.
If you’re a mogul fan, you could search your whole life and not find a better bump run than Gunbarrel. It’s steep, it’s long and, in a word, it’s brutal. Take the tram to the top and prepare yourself for the leg-burn you’re going to love to hate.
One of the favorite extreme adventures at Heavenly combines the best of pristine bowls, serene glade trails and hair-raising chutes. From the top of Sky Express, skiers and riders venture east into Nevada via the blue Skyline trail into Milky Way Bowl. The more adventurous will even take the 10-minute hike to the absolute top of the bowl. Few people know hiking is an option, so the 10-minute hike is worth the work, often yielding a few hundred vertical feet of untouched powder.
With wide-open northeastern exposure, the Milky Way Bowl offers some of the best and most consistent midwinter snow on the mountain. After several floating turns in the bowl, head east to the ridge line for some world-class tree skiing.
Killebrew Canyon, often the last area of the resort to open, especially on a powder day, is accessible through Gates A thru E and has eight marked runs, while Mott Canyon is entered through Gates 1-6 and has thirteen. It is possible to traverse through the Milky Bowl from Skyline trail to get to the top of Killebrew Canyon or take the Milky Way trail to Gate 1.
In either canyon, the south-facing runs will get crusty and hard in the afternoon sun, so best to get here closest to when the rope drops. In Killebrew, the most popular runs are Boulevard, Meadows and Pipeline, while The Fingers, Bonzai and Sharkeys offer the most heart-racing runs in the canyon. The exit from Killebrew is a long, non-snowboard friendly, traverse to the base of the Mott Canyon Lift. In Mott Canyon, the easier runs are Pine Nuts, Southern Comfort and the lift line, while the most challenging include Snake Eyes and Widowmaker.
Boarding & Freestyle in Heavenly
Snowboarders have free range of Heavenly’s slopes as well as parks, pipes, rollers and slides.
There’s snowboarding on 100 percent of the mountain, with three snowboard parks and a superpipe, two terrain parks complete with bank turns, table-tops, rollers, hits and rail slides, as well as a halfpipe. With the vast network of lifts, snowboarders can easily access everything.
Backcountry & Off Piste Skiing in Heavenly
Some backcountry skiing is available near Heavenly.
A few areas for backcountry skiing are Echo Lake and Echo Summit off Highway 50, and Taylor Creek on the west side of Highway 89. If you’re going to go off-piste, contact the U.S. Forest Service at 530-573-2600 for maps, trail guides, safety guidelines and to check snow and weather conditions.
Mountain Restaurants in Heavenly
Restaurants on the Californian and Nevada sides of Heavenly Resort cater to all tastes. There are 10 mountain restaurants covering just about every palate.
On the California side, the Cal Lodge has daily lunch specials and a salad bar, and the Cal Bar features cocktails, beer and wine, main dishes and live music. Booyah’s, in Lakeview Lodge near the top of the aerial tram and Gunbarrel Express lift, offers burgers and brews, while nearby Steins offers Bavarian-style sausages and pretzels. Sky Deck, at the base of the Sky Express, features a large outdoor deck and bar. Tamarack Lodge, the newest and definitely most impressive lodge on the hill, is a great place to meet-up with a large group for food and drinks.
On the Nevada side, East Peak Lodge also has a large outdoor deck and is a local’s favorite, while you can also grab a snack at Stagecoach and Boulder Lodges.