If you have heard of Lake Tahoe, you might have heard about a Gondola that takes you high above the mountain to have a beautiful view of the lake. At Heavenly Resort and Mountain, you can do the Gondola ride, ski, snowboard and enjoy fun summer activities as well!
Heavenly also has a shopping area, and you can read more about our mini golf and jumper experience. We stayed at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, which was an easy walk to the Heavenly Resort, where shopping, dining and entertainment was plentiful.
The Heavenly Resort is best known for the Gondola that goes high up into the mountain for ski, snowboarding and even summer fun. At one of the mesas, there was a huge area for play for adults and children alike. I expected that the Gondola ride would be just an up and back, but there was actually a whole entertainment venue at the top of the main gondola.
We didn’t plan out our trip before hopping onto the Gondola, but I suggest checking out the options for the summer Epic Discovery Adventure Passes, which is the entertainment at the top. We didn’t really understand it all that well (and I think a lot of it is pretty confusing if you aren’t looking at all of the options.). If you have a child 4+, they should be able to do some of the activities. The Gondola and Epic Discovery are not very stroller friendly. I highly suggest skipping the stroller on this one. The ride is approximately 2.4 miles up.
The Gondola ride does not include the adventure pass, which includes climbing obstacles, a mountain roller coaster, a ski lift ride (not enclosed) to a higher ridge, gemstone panning, tubing (on a dry mat), ziplines, and climbing wall. There is one stop along the way to a scenic overlook, which can only be reached on the way up the mountain on the Gondola.
I highly suggest bringing snacks and water, as these items are available but are pretty pricey!
This is down at the “base” which is at the shops at Heavenly. Elevation is approximately 6300 feet above Sea Level. Make sure you are wearing sunscreen, and bring the water!
Tickets an be purchased online or at a desk. Reservations are also available during peak times. The Gondolas head off about every 14 seconds and continually move, so you need to hop on quickly.
The ride to the first overlook is approximately 10-15 minutes. I wasn’t really counting as hubby hates heights and was getting a little pale.
Beautiful scenery through the glass of the gondola. It fit four adults and three small children well. My husband is making a face in this picture because he hates heights. There were some areas where the gondola was about 10 feet off the ground, and others where we were 50′ plus. The view was gorgeous of the lake, but don’t ask my husband about it!
From the “base” (6, 237 ft above sea level), to the top (Tamarack village and then up the Tamarack Ski lift) 10,067 ft. That is a huge increase in elevation and I really felt it. I honestly had some difficulties breathing in South Lake Tahoe. Luckily I brought my rescue inhaler and used it often.
The gondola is completely inclosed with a door that opens only on one side. So, having three sort of restless children was ok, but the gondola would sway with their movement. This also, made my husband not too happy.
We stopped at the overlook, which is approximate 9100 ft above sea level. I highly suggest getting out and taking a look around and stopping for pictures. There was a coffee shop that also sold waters, alcohol and a few snack items. A seating area, wedding area, fully operational restrooms and hiking trails were accessible from this stop.
Pictures with the kids and father in law, and snowy peaks in the background. It was quite a bit chillier just by ascending 3000 feet. And very sunny, so wear that sunscreen There was fencing all around the deck, which was a very large area and went in a circle around a rock formation. The floor was grated metal, so hold on to your valuables. I would assume that the floor was grated for snow melt, as this area can see over 300 inches of snow every year. Heavenly also makes their own snow as well.
We headed back to the gondola to continue the ride up to the Tamarack Lodge/Epic Discovery Center, where the rides and climbing obstacles were located. While we didn’t go up too much in elevation, it certainly felt like we were ascending higher.
There was a large “lodge” that had food, drinks, snacks and alcohol. Be prepared with your wallet, as it is quite pricey for staple food. There was also areas to sign up for different activities. We didn’t understand the activities down at the base, and unfortunately, understanding them while we were at the Epic Village was pretty confusing. I highly suggest looking over the options before heading up on the Gondola.
There were a lot of activities, but unfortunately only a few our children could participate in. Waivers also needed to be signed for any participants and the parents of the participants. Our children had a few choices because of their height. We picked the Bear Cub Ropes course, the Red Tail Zip Line and the Granite Peak Climbing wall. I think Munchie would have been able to do something more rigorous for the ropes course but because of his age he was limited. My husband and I didn’t do any of the courses, but I took the Tamarack Express Chair lift to the top. I could have also done the Big Easy Chair lift (included with the prices of the kids adventures), but I was having some breathing difficulties and didn’t want to push it on the elevation.
The Lodge was absolutely gorgeous inside and out. A small gift shop was at the entry. Inside was a huge cafeteria with large heavy chairs and tables made out of wood. A large bathroom with fully functioning toilets and sinks were available (no latrines, surprisingly!!).
Seating outside was also available, and near the children’s activities as well.
A few outdoor games were available (free) like cornhole, horseshoes and some seating as well.
The Ropes course and zipline. My kids weren’t too challenged by it, but had fun anyhow. They were fully suited with climbing gear and helmets. The pass entitles the child to do each activity once. They weren’t too busy, so they allowed our children to do it a few times. The rock wall was also available, and it was similar to rock walls that are at fairs. We also saw snow tucked into a corner and a snow machine, which was pretty cool.
The Epic Discovery Village (where all the “adventures” were) also had a few other ropes courses, two adult ziplines, hiking courses and a loop trail, a mountain coaster and a dry tubing experience. I’m not exactly sure how the “dry tubing” worked, but you went down a hill on a tube without snow or water.
I continued on to the Tamarack Express Chair lift which brought you to some hiking at 10,000 feet. Or at least, that’s what I found out from the brave people who went ahead of me. The ski lift that brings you up higher is not enclosed. I’m not terribly afraid of heights, but I wouldn’t say I am a huge fan either. I started questioning my judgement as I started higher and higher. But, I knew that I would kick myself if I didn’t take the opportunity. So, I went all by myself. It was a very quiet few minutes.
The view was beautiful. I was glad I did it, but was happier to be with two feet on the ground. I was also the silliest rider who sat absolutely in the middle of the chair with the handle bar between my legs.
The beginning (9136 feet above sea level) and my trip up the mountain. The Lake was beautiful from the top.
A hiking trail could bring you higher up to see the Carson Valley overlook or the Dipper express zipline. I stayed in my chair and went back around.
Farms and lots of trails. I was surprised the dirt was so sandy and bleached looking. I’m not sure what I expected, but there wasn’t much for pines or even birds. It was very, earily quiet. Very cool, but not something I would have brought my kids on. I actually started freaking out a bit because I had my Nikon camera around my neck and my cell phone I pulled out of my back pocket of my jeans. I was very afraid I was going to drop something. I’m sure if I had one of my kids with me, something would have dropped! I would have been extremely stressed with my kids on the ski lift thing. It had been a LONG time since I was on one, and never that high!
Heavenly and Epic Discovery is quite an interesting place. If you are adventurous and want to go, I highly suggest packing some snacks, water, tons of sunscreen and taking it easy. If you have ever been susceptible to breathing problems, I suggest either skipping the ascent or taking it easy. My husband, who really has very little health problems at all, also had issues after a bit. I had quite a few issues with my asthma. It takes a while to get acclimated to a higher elevation, so make sure you watch out for your kids too!
Oh, and you are right on the California/Nevada border. If one state at a time isn’t good enough for you, maybe it can be two?
This was definitely a cool thing to see. I had never been so high up in elevation before. I am not a skier or snowboarder (I personally imagine myself becoming a huge snowball if I were to ski), so going during the summer was interesting. And, there was still SNOW on the ground, so it was pretty, too. The temperature can also be quite deceiving. 80 degrees or higher, and they often will close down some of the ropes courses as it is too warm. I know, it sounds crazy being from Arizona where temperatures are 110 plus. And, it isn’t even more humid, it is just how the atmosphere changes the feel of the temperature.
Heavenly Resort and Epic Discovery
4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA
You may also want to check out our post on Lakeside Beach, if staying closer to the ground is your style!