Summer around Lake Tahoe at Heavenly Mountain Resort

As one of the largest ski resorts in North America, Heavenly Mountain Resort speaks for itself, spread across two states (California and Nevada) and 4,800 acres. However, for me, it's particularly special, since Heavenly is one of the mountains I first learned to snowboard on. So following the record-breaking winter, it was time to explore Heavenly Mountain for the first time during summer.

For my recent summer trip to Heavenly, I made my base at Zalanta, the newest accommodations in South Lake Tahoe, consisting of luxury two-, three-, and four-bedroom condos across from Heavenly Village (with a swanky pool, hot tubs and fitness center to boot). Within five minutes of walking out of my door, I was on the gondola on my way to the top of Heavenly.

Below, get a taste, like I did, of what’s possible in a day (or weekend) at Heavenly Mountain this summer.

Scenic Gondola Ride to The Observation Deck

If Heavenly Mountain has the best ski resort views of Lake Tahoe, then the Observation Deck has the single best view. And summer is no exception. Get off the first stop on the Heavenly gondola to take in the panoramic views of Lake Tahoe from 9,123 feet high. Continue around the deck to grab a latte or beer, which here, gives new meaning to the term “drinks with a view.” From the Observation Deck, it’s then only a few minutes to the end of the 2.4-mile gondola ride and top of Heavenly. Visitors with a 2017-2018 Winter Season Pass can enjoy unlimited free summer rides on the gondola, as well as access to three hiking trails that boast beautiful views of Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley.

Zip Line Tour

Zip-lining is the headliner atop Heavenly Mountain. You could easily spend an entire day on the mountain, only zip-lining new routes. Blue Streak is the OG zip line, a 3,300-foot-long zip line featuring unobstructed views of Lake Tahoe at speeds of 55 mph. The view below really speaks for itself.

However, I’d recommend doing a zip line tour, such as Skyway Zip Line Tour, a great introduction to zip-lining Heavenly, with seven zip lines, two aerial bridges and one rappel station with your own mountain guides. Many of the guides are ski and snowboard instructors during the winter, so it’s completely possible to be touring the mountain with your winter ski or snowboard instructor. I experienced this firsthand with my mountain guide, Tim McCall, who is an instructor at Kirkwood during the winter.

Lastly, new to Heavenly is the Silver Rush Zip Line Tour, a series of five zip lines through the trees totaling more than 4,000 feet.

Ropes Course

Also unique to Heavenly is a series of ropes courses for both kids and adults, such as Boulder Cove Ropes Course, the first thing you see when coming off the gondola at the top of Heavenly. Of Heavenly’s ropes courses, Boulder Cove is for the most adventurous, characterized by two levels with the highest, most challenging routes. Elsewhere, Black Bear Ropes Course is a great introduction to ropes courses, while Discovery Forest is distinct because of its integration into the natural forest. Like Heavenly’s ski runs, ropes courses are organized by green, blue and black routes. Access all the ropes courses on the Ultimate Adventure Pass ($59), which also includes access to the Granite Peak Climbing Wall, Red Tail Zip Line (for kids), tubing and scenic gondola ride, too.

Granite Peak Climbing Wall

As a new convert to bouldering, Heavenly’s rock climbing wall was of particular interest to me. Inspired by the amazing rock climbing throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granite Peak is a 25-foot rock climbing wall just beyond the gondola atop Heavenly, featuring 15 climbing routes of varying difficulty. Since it uses an auto-belay system, and with guides available, no prior experience is necessary.

Dining al fresco at The Loft

If après-ski is essential to the winter experience at Heavenly, then après-adventure should be essential to the summer experience, too. And after a day on the mountain, I recommend après-adventure or dining al fresco down in the Heavenly Village at The Loft, featuring an outdoor bar and grille open during the summer. Overlooking the Village, The Loft’s menu is as unique as you’ll find around Lake Tahoe, with items like the bison nachos and a wild game sausage platter. Wash it down with a beer or marg. Alternatively, make it date night at The Loft for dinner and a show.

Activity photos courtesy of Heavenly.

Southern born and bred, Spencer was bitten by the travel bug at a young age, flying on a plane for the first time at age five and by himself for the first time at seven. While he continues to travel around the world in search for the best whiskey, Spencer now calls Reno home, where his search is for the best cocktail (and first tracks, naturally). He has written about travel, food, and drinks for a number of publications that have included the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, and Travel + Leisure, just to name a few. See a more candid version of Spencer on his website,, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.