Heavenly Ski Resort
Heavenly is the largest ski resort in California. Simply put, it’s so big that it sprawls across two states, Nevada and California. Heavenly is owned by Vail Resorts, which also operates Northstar and Kirkwood in California. Heavenly is blessed with one of the largest snowmaking systems as well as over 360 inches (9.1 meters) of snow annually, so the ski season usually stretches well into April each year. The resort covers 4800 acres with 97 named trails and 30 combined lifts. The lift system has a high-speed gondola, a high-speed aerial tram, 2 high-speed six-pack chair lifts, 7 high-speed quads, 1 standard quad, 5 triples, 3 doubles, and 10 surface lifts. Combined, it is able to carry 52,000 skiers up the mountain per hour.
Heavenly has an insane vertical, coming in at 3812 feet. The peak of Mt Heavenly is located at 10,067 feet with the base at 6255. One of the biggest draws for Heavenly is its advanced tree skiing trails. Whether you’re tearing through the Pinnacles or taking one of the short steeps near Steins, there’s going to be some terrain that calls to the powderhound in you. If you’re really feeling on top of your game, head to Killebrew or Mott Canyon and take on some of the best chutes in the state. If you’re after a bowl, shred the Milky Way. For novice skiers, there’s a bowl for you as well. Just up the hill from the Boulder Lodge is the Boulder Bowl, a wide-open swath of snow that lets the less certain skiers or families experience a little bowl skiing together. And if you really want to test yourself, there’s one track you have to do. Hit the Face, a double black diamond steep that drops 1700 feet right into the Gunbarrel or the Warren Miller run. This is a mogul-filled path, so you have to be on your game to avoid making a total garage sale.
Heavenly also has three terrain parks for all ability levels. There’s a great progression park near where the aerial tram lets off with low rails and boxes to let novices build confidence. Players Park and Ante Up are classified as intermediates. Players has a great line of triples and jibs, while Ante Up is almost exclusively jibs made of old water pipes. For expert freestylers, head to High Roller. Fear is left behind when you hit the 55 and 65-foot jumps and soar over the gaps. All of your tricks are going to be on display for folks riding the Sky or Canyon Express, so don’t plant.
The Bottom Line
Heavenly is a huge park with plenty of terrain for everyone to find something. The main drawback to Heavenly is that it can get a bit crowded, especially mid mountain. For advanced skiers, waiting for the patrol to open up Killebrew and Mott can be a bummer, but there are plenty of glades and steeps to keep you occupied. Warmer days (and Heavenly has a lot of them) can turn lower mountain snow soft and difficult to play in, but moving up the mountain will alleviate that. Apres-ski adventures are also all over the place, from 24-hour casinos on the Nevada side to lake cruises and shopping. This is a great resort for everyone, although families with young kids may find the distance from the Cali base to the rest of the mountain a little annoying.