Heavenly Mountain Resort is located at the base of beautiful Lake Tahoe. The mountain is the largest and highest in the Lake Tahoe region, with an impressive 4,800 skiable acres and 3,500 ft skiable vertical. Heavenly Resort rests in the city of South Lake Tahoe on California and Nevada’s stateline. Heavenly has a mountain peak in each state, so if your girlfriend starts fighting with you on this ideal ski holiday, you can quickly ski to the other state.

Unique to Heavenly Mountain is that it is an “upside down mountain,” which means the peaks are not the steepest part of the mountain; instead, the base is. Due to this, all abilities of skiers and riders have the opportunity to summit the peaks and unlock the stellar views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. 

No worries about the way down, as Heavenly offers beginner ski routes that cut across the runs at the mountain’s base, allowing skiers to reach the bottom safely without tackling the 31-degree pitch of the perpendicular slopes. Or, skiers have lift options to “down-load,” meaning you can ride the lift down to the base. Normally, this could be viewed as being a chicken because you decided not to ski down the run, but here it is just another fun-filled activity to indulge in.


Things we like:

  • check-mark
    All abilities of skiers and riders have the opportunity to summit the peaks and unlock the stellar views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range
  • check-mark
    Updated, modern, multi-person, and high-speed lifts
  • check-mark
    Lots of sunshine and bluebird days
  • check-mark
    4 base areas with wide variety of sleeping and shopping options plus a great aprés scene
  • check-mark
    Good for beginners

Things we don't like:

  • check-markCrowded, crowded, crowded - there are massive crowds
  • check-markWind and the dreaded ’Sierra Cement’
  • check-markExpensive
  • check-markNeed to plan and make reservations for everything well in advance

Where to Book:

Heavenly Ski Resort Routine Skiers

Heavenly Ski Resort 2023 Guide

Resort Profile

  • Chairlifts: 28 – 1 high speed gondola, 1 aerial tram, 2 high speed sixes, 7 high speed quads, 1 quad, 5 triples, 3 doubles, 4 magic carpets, 4 t-bars
  • Avg. Snowfall: 360in / 910cm
  • Season: November – May (give or take a month depending on snow conditions)
  • Runs: 97
  • Beginner: 20%
  • Intermediate: 45%
  • Expert: 35%
  • Vertical: 3,812ft
  • Kids Ski School: Yes
  • Accommodations: Yes
  • Daycare: yes, ages 6 weeks to 6 years, with an optional ski component for ages 3-5
See the complete list of the best Ski Resorts here!
Heavenly Ski Resort Run Gunbarrel

Heavenly is a must-visit ski resort with its multitude of runs, beautiful views, plentiful shopping, and fantastic weather. Many people agree, and the crowds reflect this, so thank goodness the resort is massive. Heavenly is one of the top five largest ski resorts in North America. With the enormous acreage here, you can escape the crowds, but be careful not to voyage into the blocked-off areas. We were bold enough to go under the caution ropes and ended up skiing on exposed mud and rocks!

This resort is spectacularly beginner-friendly and is prepared to handle the heavy traffic with wide runs. Note, it is prepared to handle traffic because this resort is busy. There are marked-off learning zones to help keep beginner skiers safe. But stay aware that there can be chaos around the bottlenecks created when several runs meet up at only one or two lifts. Luckily the lifts are modern, multi-person, and high-speed, so queues can move quickly.

This resort is also full of expert riders who look “steezy” (style&ease) in the terrain parks and utilize tree skiing to escape the notorious crowds. Luckily for the versed skier, only a handful of riders tackle the advanced runs, leaving experts able to just “send it.” Potentially, the advanced runs stay clear due to the giant moguls that form from all the shredders.

If snow sports are not your style, stay tuned, as Heavenly provides exclusive experiences for those not slipping and sliding down the snow on metal edges. The Heavenly Gondola will transport you up comfortably to enjoy the scenery, hiking, tubing, and restaurants. A gondola is a luxurious machine that is accessible to skiers, general visitors, and handicapped guests

The Resort

Prepare yourself for exciting ski terrain for all abilities, mountain access for all visitors, excellent on-mountain facilities, and a family-friendly environment showing a forecast full of sun. The average daytime temperature in winter is 45 degrees Fahrenheit and Heavenly boasts 300 days of sunshine yearly. “Bluebird days” are not far and wide between, as no clouds and pure sunshine light up the resort with a clear blue sky often during winter ski season. Be careful, as snow has high reflectivity and ski goggle sunburns are only cool if you have a mullet to match it. Make sure and wear sunscreen while visiting on the beautiful sunny days! It gets hot while doing snow sports, so only wear one or two layers.

As much as I would like to omit this due to my love of the Heavenly ski terrain, the amenities, and the world-class environment, there are a decent amount of windy days on the mountain. The wind stings while riding, so gear up with neck buffs to cover your face. Thankfully, skiers can choose the side of the mountain that blocks the wind.

Do not be disheartened if you experience “Sierra Cement,” conditions of hard-packed firm snow. The mountain makes up for these slick pockets with incredible weather, fresh snow made daily, and superb snow grooming. Heavenly’s snowmaking covers 60% of the trails. They use the best snowcat machines to ensure the best snow surface conditions in the Lake Tahoe region. Without the added snow, the average snowfall is 360in per year.

Heavenly has an attention-grabbing 28 ski lifts. The mountain ranks in the top ten for most ski lifts within a resort in North America. In the mix of ski lifts, there are one cozy high-speed gondola, one fascinating aerial tram, nine high-speed lifts, and four magic carpets. Accompanying the lifts are 97 runs; 20% are beginner, 45% are intermediate, and 35% are advanced runs.

There are four bases at Heavenly Mountain Resort: California Lodge, Heavenly Village, Boulder Lodge, and Stagecoach Lodge. I would recommend parking at either the California Lodge or the Heavenly Village base area for those new to the resort and for the most versatility; both offer lift services for the handicapped and people not participating in snow sports.

Heavenly Ski Resort Gunbarrel

The California Lodge is the most Westerly base. It offers free parking, child daycare, and ski school drop-off. However, this side of the mountain can have icier and slushier conditions.

The Heavenly Village base area on the Stateline offers limited paid parking but excellent shopping, restaurants, lodging, and ski school drop-off.

The Boulder Lodge base area on the Nevada side has free parking and ski school drop-off but no ski-in/ski-out lodging.

The most Eastern base area in Nevada is Stagecoach Lodge; this base area offers free parking and a few lodging options but no beginner-accessible terrain.

For entertainment, Heavenly hosts an annual local race called the “Gunbarrel 25” held at the famous 3,000ft vertical double black mogul decent, a run consisting of “The Face” and “Gunbarrel.” This event is open to the first 225 people who register and are up for the most brutal of challenges. To win, you must complete 25 laps of “The Face” and “Gunbarrel” as fast as possible. Imagine speeding down a 31-degree pitch with moguls bigger than you are for over 3,000ft, twenty-five times in a row; talk about a thigh burn. But the bragging rights are worth it.

Heavenly Resort opened on December 15th, 1955. In 2002, Vail Resorts bought Heavenly, and since then, there have been improvements in lifts, amenities, and the ski school.

Vail Resorts owns 37 ski resorts, which can all be accessed with the Epic Pass. The Epic Pass prices go through a series of discounts. Low prices are available early, before the winter season. However, if you plan to shred only in the sludge, the pass goes on sale late in the season. Single lift ticket prices are around $200; buying multi-day passes unlocks savings.

Pioneering an eco-friendly business plan, Vail Resorts has made an “Epic Promise,” which ensures their resorts produce less waste, recycle, and give back to the community. Heavenly Mountain Resort participates in the “Epic Promise” by being active in local restoration programs, helping salvage land after the fires, local long-term animal conservation, and active government participation in implementing the Federal Lake Tahoe Restoration Act.

Heavenly Ski Resort View

Getting There

If flying is your means of travel, the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Reno, Nevada, is the closest. A cost-efficient shuttle bus goes to South Lake Tahoe from the airport. Do not pay more than $50 for a shuttle bus to South Lake. Other transportation options are car rentals, taxis, limousines, complimentary hotel shuttles, rideshares, peer-to-peer car sharing, and the City Bus.

Reno-Tahoe Airport Transportation Services

This resort sees its fair share of bay area visitors due to the three-hour drive to the coast. So, if you are experiencing San Francisco grays, come brighten up with Heavenly blues.

Heavenly Ski Resort Reno Tahoe Airport


The Heavenly Village, located on the Stateline, offers several ski/in ski/out accommodations and comfortable hotels within walking distance.

Condominiums and Airbnbs are scattered throughout the resort at all of the bases if you prefer more peace and quiet.

Stateline, Nevada, offers several hotels and casinos. I would recommend staying at the Hard Rock Cafe, it is about a mile away from the Heavenly Village.

In South Lake Tahoe, a shuttle transports people around the city. The shuttle connects the California Lodge and Heavenly Village base areas. It also connects the Stagecoach and Boulder Lodge base areas. But be careful because it does not connect the Stagecoach or Boulder Lodge to Heavenly Village or California Lodge, which means you can get stuck at a parking lot where you will not hear your car’s unlock beep no matter how much you manifest it. The city bus is also convenient for navigating South Lake Tahoe.

Best Casino to stay at:  Hard Rock Cafe

Best Hotel nearby: Marriot Grand Residence Club, Lake Tahoe

Heavenly Ski Resort Accommodation

The Facilities

The California Lodge at Heavenly Mountain Resort offers daycare for children ages six weeks old to six years old, with an optional ski program. Moms get ready to hit the slopes because the baby will be a-okay.

Suppose you choose to ascend Heavenly Mountain without booting up and participating in snow sports. In that case, it is possible to take the scenic gondola ride from the Heavenly Village on the Nevada side. The gondola is handicapped-friendly. So if sliding on snow is not for you, buy a gondola pass and keep a lookout for black bears that are commonly seen!

Heavenly’s gondola is one of the fastest in North America, traveling 2.4 miles while climbing 874 feet in 11 minutes and 45 seconds. On the way up, stop at the mid-station to take photos at the Observation Deck, grab an expresso at Cafe Blue or visit The Gondola Sports Shop for a trinket. Once you are at the top, enjoy the view at 9,136ft. The view contains Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains. Near the gondola, you can check out the tubing hill. Tubing is a sure way to make the kids smile. There are also hiking trails accessible from the top of the gondola.

There are heated pools and hot tubs at the nearby resorts, but be careful if you’re drinking. The mixture of alcohol with altitude, cold weather, ski fatigue, and hot water does not always make a great cocktail. For extra relaxation, there are massage centers and yoga classes within walking distance.

A grocery store is located at Heavenly Village if you want to stock up on snacks, as a cannabis dispensary is close-by.

If you want to drive a short distance, ice skating is available. It is also worthwhile to sit at the picnic tables on the beach of Lake Tahoe. Driving along the highway next to Lake Tahoe should be illegal because the view is so distracting. Close resorts to visit if you have the time are Northstar, Palisades, Kirkwood, and Sierra.

A neat facility in South Lake Tahoe is a climbing gym about a ten-minute drive from Heavenly. The climbing gym sells day passes, including access to climbing harnesses, climbing shoe rentals, a bouldering area, standard gym machines, a good shower, and a sauna.

Heavenly Ski Resort The Facilities

For Family/skiing with kids:

The kid’s ski school offers full-day, half-day, or hourly lessons to children ages three to fourteen. The full-day lesson provides two snacks and a lunch. Heavenly is owned by Vail Resorts, which has created a uniform ski school teaching program that is effective and complies with the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Associate of Snowboard Instructors. Expect to have well-trained, knowledgeable instructors at Heavenly Ski School.

Heavenly’s ski school stays booked, especially if it is a weekend or a holiday, so make reservations in advance. However, suppose you show up on a random Wednesday in February. In that case, there is about a 50/50 chance of the ski school having an opening; this is a gambling town, so maybe the odds will be in your favor.

As mentioned before, Heavenly blocks off learning zones on the mountain, helping kids learn snow sports safer. There are also magic carpets, a miraculous device that moves new skiers and boarders uphill by standing on a conveyor belt. The magic carpet is easier to load than a lift. But the lifts at Heavenly are kid-friendly due to the seats’ low positioning to the ground and the chair slowing down almost to a halt during the loading process.

Separate from the ski school, Heavenly offers daycare from 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM. The program includes two snacks & lunch. Tubing is also available at the top of the gondola at Heavenly Village.

Heavenly Ski Resort Skiing

For Beginners:

Beginners should feel right at home learning to ski and snowboard here. The chance to make buddies with a fellow “Jerry” is high. Of the 97 runs, 19 are green runs, and 44 are blue runs. This means that 65% of the mountain is beginner and intermediate-friendly. Most of the blue runs at Heavenly are very wide, which means the blue runs at Heavenly are more beginner-friendly than other ski resorts’ blue runs. So be prepared to tackle green and blue runs as a beginner here at Heavenly!

Heavenly’s Ski School provides group and private lessons for all ages, ranging from first lessons to professional ski team training. The experience of learning to ski here is effortless; simply show up with a good attitude. Rental gear is provided by the ski school on-site. The staff will put your ski or snowboard boots on your feet and take them off. Any problems that could arise with equipment, or anything else for that matter, will be swiftly handled by the staff. If that is not enough, students get to skip the lift lines!

Heavenly Ski Resort For Beginners

For routine skiers

Twenty-nine lifts have the capacity to move 52,000 passengers per hour. Heavenly is busy, but it handles the crowds well due to the lifts, the sizable 4,800 acres, and helpful employees. A novice skier will find the most fun here between the trees. The tree skiing offered at Heavenly is arguably some of the best in North America. The black runs at the resort are ungroomed and stay uncrowded, as the moguls can be daunting.

That being said about the in-bounds skiing, Heavenly Mountain offers unlimited backcountry terrain. Backcountry terrain is a legal out-of-bounds ski area that can be accessed once you leave the ski resort’s boundaries. Heavenly is a backcountry skier’s dream; fresh snow awaits those willing to adventure. It should be noted that having the right ski gear and knowledge of the backcountry is essential. Simply going out-of-bounds with your confidence and rented alpine skis will end badly quickly, and so will your cell service.

A routine skier at Heavenly can find uncrowded moments on the mountain on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays before lunchtime.

Insider tip from the Heavenly Ski School locals: Instead of skiing down Gunbarrel, take advantage of the trees adjacent to the infamous run. If you are riding down Gunbarrel, my favorite section of trees is on the left; you can ride untouched powder here. Warning, tree wells are a real threat, so stay clear! Many of the most sure-of-themself skiers I know have been stuck upside down in feet of snow under a tree!

Heavenly Ski Resort Routine Skiers

For Snowboarders

Snowboarders are welcomed at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Only three resorts in North America ban snowboarding: Deer Valley, Alta, and Mad River Glen. But please do not be one of those snowboards straight-lining through a crowd blasting muffled music.

Jokes aside, the terrain parks at Heavenly get the “stoked” “stoking” regardless of the “stokers” abilities because the parks offer beginner, intermediate, and advanced jump and rail lines. Groove Park and High Roller Park are both located on the California side. The most advanced park riders will find paradise at High Roller Park, featuring medium, large, and x-large features. A halfpipe does open at High Roller, but it depends on snow conditions. Groove Park, featuring x-small, small, and medium features, will help those learning park skills get into their groove.

However, do not let the stoke blind your judgment. Practice Park SMART; this means: starting on Small features, Making a plan for every feature, Always looking before you drop, Respecting the features and other users, and Taking it easy.

Heavenly Ski Resort Smart

Shopping Options:

Heavenly Village on the Nevada side, offers a strip of high-end mountain gear shopping. Whether that mountain gear is for skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding, or snow-biking, the village has it all within walking distance of the resort. Mountain gear also includes western wear, cowboy boots and hats, and antique shopping. The quality and quantity of equipment on this strip are not to be taken for granted; splurging here is a must.

Stop at the Starbucks at The Shops at Heavenly for a boost to continue your shopping spree. An Oakley, Alpaca Exotic Imports, Artifacts, Beanies and Bikinis, Champagne & Chocolate, Village Toys, High Chaparral Western Wear, Patagonia, and many sports stores are all at your finger tips!

The Apres-Ski

Thankfully, there are ski-in ski-out restaurants on the mountain, so if skiing is your top priority, you can scarf down food with no judgment in a nice warm space at the top of your favorite lift without taking any breaks. Near Heavenly’s gondola, Tamarack Lodge offers grab-and-go snacks and a restaurant serving lunch by warming fires. Vail Resorts has banned alcohol sales at their resorts starting in April 2022. Pioneers in the ski industry, the alcohol ban is an attempt to set a more serious tone for the risky sport. You’ll have to wait until you get to the base for your beer, preferably at the end of your ski day.

The Heavenly Village at the Nevada base offers many food options, varying from fancy white tablecloth dine-in experiences, to mom & pop cafes, to rustic bars serving comfort-style food and your favorite beer.  

And with so many risk-takers around, we have to mention the casinos. The proximity between gambling on whether to “send” the ski chute or gambling at the blackjack table is ironic.


Related Reviews


Things we like:

  • check-mark
    All abilities of skiers and riders have the opportunity to summit the peaks and unlock the stellar views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range
  • check-mark
    Updated, modern, multi-person, and high-speed lifts
  • check-mark
    Lots of sunshine and bluebird days
  • check-mark
    4 base areas with wide variety of sleeping and shopping options plus a great aprés scene
  • check-mark
    Good for beginners

Things we don't like:

  • check-markCrowded, crowded, crowded - there are massive crowds
  • check-markWind and the dreaded ’Sierra Cement’
  • check-markExpensive
  • check-markNeed to plan and make reservations for everything well in advance

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