Standing at the top of the mountain at Ski Heavenly Mountain Resort, looking down into the sparkling blue water of Lake Tahoe, I can feel the energy of this place flowing through my body. The jagged mountain meets lake views and juxtaposition of colors — white and blue and green and grey — are nothing short of remarkable. But it is more than just the scenery that is energizing here, there is a buzz to this entire part of the Lake Tahoe region, known as South Lake, that straddles the California and Nevada border.
Skiing down a long blue cruiser called Dipper, which gives you amazing views across the gorgeous Carson Valley from 9,000 feet, I ponder what this energy is and conclude it has to do with people seemingly being happy here. Whether it’s the resort employees, locals living down by the lake or the tourists who come to ski, the infectious happy energy abounds.
I pose the happiness question to Rachelle Atherton, who is the Senior Communication Specialist at Heavenly. She says this energy is part of the aptly named Heavenly Mountain Resort’s mantra, where life is all about the work hard, play hard balance.
“Here at Heavenly, we have a mantra we like to say, it's called ‘go all in’ and that means, first chair to last call,” Atherton says. “We have some of the most unique views in the United States, great food, great energy up on the mountain, and then … tons of nightlife options in South Lake for afterwards. It really is a unique experience unparalleled anywhere else.”
Another unique aspect of Heavenly Resort is that it straddles the California and Nevada lines, so you can ski in both states in one day. The resort also hosts a varied mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain on 4,800 acres and nearly 100 runs, which means you can ride all day without getting bored.
Another reason to ski here is to take advantage of the ski and ride school. Instructors will help you with technique, talk mountain trivia and show you the best of the 4,800 acres of terrain.
When you’re done skiing, head into town. I love The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe, right on the Nevada/California border, not only for their apres ski happy hour but also for sleeping. The property features stunning Lake Tahoe views, including from its Great Room with its 42-foot-tall glass wall, as well as a blend-into-the-environment design. Everything from the rock to the wood to the limestone walls is authentic, and a lot of attention to detail has gone into the decor.
The family-friendly property has 154 rooms and suites and unobstructed lake views with nothing between the lodge and the deep blue water. It also offers a number of dining options, from the Bistro at Edgewood Tahoe where I’m partaking in happy hour, to the impressive fine-dining Edgewood Restaurant where every table features Lake Tahoe views and the food is delicious — try the scallops appetizers, which is a signature, while for mains the elk chops and filet mignon are stand-outs.
Other resort amenities include a year-round heated pool and hot tub and a large spa. A resort for all seasons, in summer Edgewood has kayaks and paddle boards for guests to take on the lake. They also have an 18-hole golf course in striking natural environs with emerald greens and mature pines set against a snow-capped, craggy Sierra Mountain skyline.
Edgewood doesn’t offer true ski-in, ski-out access, but they’ve done everything possible to make the transition from the lodge to the slope as smooth as possible — they use Mercedes Sprinters equipped with ski and snowboard racks and even heated boot warmers that will drop you off right at the gondola. You can even rent equipment onsite to avoid the long lines at the base of the mountain.
Beyond Heavenly, there is so much more to do in this region. The adjacent Carson Valley is just a 20-minute drive south from the slopes and is well worth exploring, as each of the four communities that make up the area come with their own historic aspects and recreational opportunities from hiking to horseback riding to hot springs. The area is also home to Dangberg Historic Ranch. The historic park was once a working ranch owned by the Dangberg Land and Livestock Company who worked the land from 1857 to the 1980s when the last family member passed away and the property became a county-owned public park. Today Dangberg Historic Ranch hosts more than 40,000 artifacts in the main house museum that once belonged to the Dangbergs. Beyond touring the main home, I enjoyed checking out the bird-filled gardens where I could imagine having a picnic or even flying a kite in warmer months.
Other Carson Valley must-sees include the towns of Minden, Gardnerville, and Genoa. Genoa is my favorite. The town is on the National Register of Historic Places with a Wild West-style main street and is home to a charming old-fashioned hotel, a hot springs resort and Nevada’s oldest bar, The Genoa Bar, which I find to be the perfect spot to chat with locals and wrap up my time exploring South Lake Tahoe and the Carson Valley in the gorgeous state of Nevada.
Check out my complete guide on things to do in Nevada’s Heavenly Mountain Resort & Carson Valley here.