Looking at the Heavenly ski resort map you will see that the resort is split across two US states; California and Nevada. It is possible to ski between the two sides however having an understanding about what each side has to offer can help save you time and potentially effort traversing. This post is all about Heavenly ski resorts California side but if you want to take a tour of the California side be sure to watch the video below.
Heavenly has a purpose-built resort village with; restaurants, accommodation and shops. For a full overview of the Heavenly Village Map look here. For visitors staying in the village, the Heavenly gondola is probably the route they will choose to access the mountain. The heavenly village provides the most direct route into the centre of Heavenly ski resort via the gondola. Unloading at Tamarack Lodge, the Heavenly gondola takes 15 minutes from the village to reach the top. The views from the gondola are worth the journey alone with an open panorama looking back at Lake Tahoe. If you need to park, then consider avoiding the gondola and instead head to California Lodge. Parking at the Heavenly gondola costs around $25 per day, whereas parking at California Lodge is free.
A short drive from the Heavenly Village and you will be at California Lodge. California lodge offers two routes of uplifting onto the mountain, The Tram and Gunbarrel Express.The Heavenly Tram uplifts around 650 people per hour from the California Lodge car park to the top of Patsys run. The Tram is a popular method of getting onto the mountain but personally, I prefer the Gunbarrel Express chair.Gunbarrel Express runs parallel to the Heavenly Tram and uplifts to a very similar drop off point, the top of Paty’s run. A four-person quad chair, I prefer to ride Gunbarrel as you can ski off away from the lift with your gear already on. Just makes for a faster start to the day.
From the top of Gunbarrel or The Tram, you will find yourself at the top of Patsy’s run with two options… one take Patsy’s run or head down The Face, where you will find a number of Double Black Diamond graded trails and the perfectly groomed blue, World Cup.
Patsy’s is a mellow green and with its own chairlift, this is a popular place for people to learn. The area can get busy as it is an access point to the mountain but this clears outside of peak times. At the bottom of Patsy’s run, you will find two further chairlifts.
The Groove runs parallel to Patsy’s chair and accesses the first of two terrain parks on the California side. The Groove Park is great with a beginners line that features small jumps and ride on box features. There is are also some larger jumps, two medium and two large, at the top of the Groove Park with a rail garden following both these lines. The rail garden allows for progression from the ride on boxes found in the small line. The Groove Park laps back down to the Groove Chair meaning you can just lap until your legs are done. The Groove chair is a slow 2 person chair but it gives a great view of the features as you ride back up.
If you want to access further Heavenly ski resort terrain, you will want to take the Powderbowl Express chair. This fast 6 person lift takes you to the top of Powderbowl Woods. This area has a few Black Diamond graded trails, with bumps found on Powder Line and Waterfall. One of the most fun trails here is Mombo, a blue groomer that just feels great to bomb first thing in the morning.
If you want to head further into the resort, take the bottom of Ridge Run towards the Sky Deck.
Sky Deck offers some really cool outside dining and access to two of the most popular chairs on the California side; Canyon Express and Sky Express. On the weekends this area can become hectic so potentially it is best to avoid it.
Canyon Express Chair is one of my favourites on the California side. Shorter and less crowded than the Sky Express it accesses my favourite groomed run High Five. High Five is one of a few really nice groomed runs off the Canyon Express that are perfect to explore first thing in the morning.
Sky Express gives you some fantastic options with it possible to ride down Ridge Run back towards Canyon or Powderbowl Express chairs. My favourite option from here however is to take the Skyline trail and then find a spot to drop into the Ski Ways Glades or Pinnacles. These two areas have some really fun tree skiing and allow you to get away from the crowded groomers.
Skyline trail will also take you all the way over to Milky Way and the Nevada Side, but as this post is about California I’ll save that for another day.
Interested in Nevada Side Click Here.
From Skyline Trail you can take California Trail and Cascade, two fun Blues that will take you to the Tamarack Lodge and the top of Heavenly Gondola. Perfect if you want to head into the village for some lunch. Staying on the mountain? Well, the area around Tamarack Lodge is a base for ski school, with Easy Street and Big Easy perfect learner trails. There is also a Tubing Hill and Mountain Coaster found here in the Adventure Peak area.
The Tamarack Express is a fast 6 person chair that will give you access to California trail for the traverse back to California Lodge. The trails off the Tamarack Express are shorter than off Sky Express but are perfectly suited to intermediate skiers and snowboarders.
CALIFORNIA SIDE BEST FOR…
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
The ski school is based at Bear Cave near Tamarack Lodge with good access to Easy Street. This is a pretty good place to learn as the lodge is nearby if you need some rest. There is also progression close by with the opportunity to take the Tamarack Express to access some blue terrain.
Similarly, there is beginners terrain at California Lodge with Green runs Puma Trail and Enchanted Forest of the First Ride chairlift. There is another ski school base at California Lodge.
BEST FOR INTERMEDIATES
For me, its a choice of two places on the California side, either the Powderbowl Express or Canyon Express chairs. I am excluding the Tamarack Express as the runs there are quite short and could become boring very quickly.The runs off the Powderbowl Express chair are really fun having already mentioning Mombo. The Powderbowl Woods are a great place for intermediates to get their first experiences of glade skiing or snowboarding. Similarly, High Five and Ridge Run, accessed from the Canyon Express chair are great for intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Nice long groomed trails, leading back to the chairlift for another lap.
BEST FOR ADVANCED
It is hard to look past The Face for challenging terrain on the California side. The runs back down Gunbarrel and East Bowl are legendary and the moguls here are some of the largest on the mountain.
High Roller Park has features much larger than I feel comfortable riding so would offer those with a freestyle focus more challenge than the Groove Park.
BEST FOOD WITH A VIEW
The best views from a restaurant on the California side at Heavenly has to be Booyah’s, Lakeview Lodge. The Lakeview Lodge has an outside terrace with uninterrupted views of Lake Tahoe.The Lodge can be found adjacent to the Heavenly Tram, near California Lodge.
BEST DRINK STOP
If you are looking for a place to celebrate your last run, or just have a cold one at lunchtime then Steins is a pretty good place to do it. Steins can be found next to Patsy’s and have lots of outdoor seating with deck chairs. If you have weary legs this is the best place to reboot.
BEST VIEW CALIFORNIA SIDE
At the top of Sky Express, there is a ski patrol station. Directly opposite, near the ski area boundary line, there is a scenic photo spot. Take off your ski’s and your board and head through the trees where it will open up to views across to Nevada. Stunning!
In terms of views from a run, the views from The Face or Gunbarrel looking back over Lake Tahoe are also pretty epic.
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GET IN TOUCH
You’ve heard from me, now it’s your turn to get involved! Have you visited Heavenly Ski Resort? What is your favourite run on the California side? Do you prefer skiing at Heavenly California or Heavenly Nevada? Let me know in the comments or via socials.