Skiing in Lake Tahoe
So after the CES show I made a quick jump up to Lake Tahoe to check out the skiing up there. I’d noticed that Heavenly Resort was one of the most searched on ski resorts this winter so I had to see what it was about. I flew up after the show and met some ex-ski instructor friends who live in the area vbefore heading home. Here’s my take on everything:
Heavenly Resort Ski Resort
It’s an interesting mountain with beautiful views. Most of the trails are intermediate so it’s great for families with children. Everywhere you look there are decent, long, wide trails with slopes that are challenging but not super aggressive. There are a few blacks but you have to work to get to them and then my friends who used to teach there, told me there’s a big jump between blue and black in these areas. So be careful if you have young children. You might find yourself going from a nice easy blue to a monster black. Even so, the trails were covered in powder so even if you had to pick your way down with a little one it might not be so dire.
Since I didn’t have my daughter with me this time, I was able to go full throttle, which was nice, except that I found myself bored with the mountain. For the $125 lift ticket price, I would have liked a few tougher trails besides the scary blacks tucked away in the corner. So I would say if you have a mixed bag of skier levels with you, and kids, this is the place to be. If you are on your own or with very experienced skiers, I’d opt for another mountain. My ski instructor friends said Squaw is better for expert level.
It’s a little odd how you can’t buy your tickets from anywhere on the mountain. I find that obnoxious. I would have liked to have been able to order my tickets and have them waiting in my room the way I can in Tremblant. And there are no discounts, so if I am going to pay $125 a person, I don’t want to have to wait on line to do it. Order them on the mountain’s website and give yourself time because the site is a little clunky. Desktop is a lot easier than mobile. Also parking is tough but there’s free parking behind Harrah’s. From South Lake you actually take a Gondola up to the mountain so it’s a little disconcerting not being able to walk to the main lodge from the parking lot. I drove around and around trying to find a big entrance to the mountain until I realized the bottom of the Gondola was it. There are also a few other access points to get on the hill from the Gondola is the main one.
Overall, definitely a mountain I would go back to when in the area but wouldn’t make a big trip out to go there if I have to make a big trip out of it.
The Ridge Resort
I got an upgrade because I’m an Expedia gold member and while I booked a hotel room I ended up in a beautiful apartment with views of the village. Large master bed, a living room, with fireplace and a full size kitchen and dining table. The bed pulls out as well, plenty of room for a large family.
One thing that wasn’t made clear to me was that you can’t just rent any car from the airport to get up the hill. The Ridges is located at the very tippy top of exactly that, a ridge. The road goes straight up. I rented an Elantra and on the way up were signs all over about chains and 4 wheel drive when signs are flashing. With the sun melting the snow and the run off continually soaking the road, I knew if I went down into town I better get myself back up that mountain before the sun went down and it began to freeze. So I would recommend not booking this place unless your car can handle steep drives up and down in inclement weather, unless you feel like being stuck up there after sundown.
The Ridges is more of a compound with several buildings, scattered around the main lodge. There’s no housing inside the lodge itself but it’s where you go for the fitness room and spa. I didn’t love that you had to trek out in the cold to get to the spa or fitness center, or grocery store, especially since it was a pretty steep walk. They do have buses but it seemed kooky to me to wait for a bus to take you only a short distance, so I just hoofed it.
There’s a nice bar and restaurant in the lodge, except sadly the weekend I was there it was completely booked for a wedding. So I only got to hear the party going on from downstairs. One of the reasons I booked this place was because I knew they had a nice bar and restaurant on the premises, so that combined with the fact that I didn’t want to risk the drive down the mountain, really kind of stunk.
The best part of the Ridges is it has it’s own private gondola that will take you right down to the ski area. It’s about a ten minute ride and remember to bring your key with you to call the gondola. It’s a great feature, the only downside to it is you don’t get to go to all the cool restaurants down in town by the main gondola.