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Heavenly vs Vail

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

I only get to ski once a year so like to make the most of it.  Skied Vail last two years and wanted to change it up...  was considering Heavenly and wanted opinions?

post #2 of 25
You need to give more data. What kind of terrain do you like, what level skier are you? What kind of town or base village do you want?

Without that sort of info, you'll get every resort on the planet coming at you. With it, you'll only get 25% of the resorts. :-)
post #3 of 25

Lake Tahoe is a beautiful area. If you have never been I would make the trip. The Epic Pass covers Heavenly, Kirkwood,

and Northstar. Heavenly is the closest to the lodging on the South Shore. Kirkwood is a must

visit if you go there.

post #4 of 25

Heavenly is not really a destination resort--mainly weekend skiing for californians. It has good overall vertical but the vertical is broken up into chunks. Emphasis on intermediate groomers with some lower angle tree skiing and expert skiing in Mott and Killebrew canyons when there's enough snow. Not a place I'd go on a fly in ski vacation--I'd be looking for someplace where I could stay walking distance from the lifts. Also, Heavenly isn't that easy to get to by air--a long drive from Reno airport. There are dozens of places I'd pick over Heavenly. If I'm going to travel to ski in North America I'd go to Whistler, Jackson, or Altabird, of the places I've already been to. Big Sky is definitely on the wish list. 

post #5 of 25
  • There is no reason why Heavenly shouldn't be on your bucket list.  It is huge with tons of intermediate and advance terrain.  True expert stuff is pretty much in Mott and Killebrew, but the view of the lake is wonderful.  The tress are widely spaced on average.
  • If you have that Epic Pass, it is also good (as mentioned above by SunValleySteve) at N* and Kirkwood, both fine mountains in their own right.
  • If you rent a car, there are lots of vineyards to visit within an hour or so away.  Yeah, the vines are all dormant in the winter, but wine tasting can still be fun.
  • I personally think So. Lake Tahoe is not the prettiest place in the world and don't do the casino thing when traveling with the kids, but there is something to be said for the entertainment there.  Seeing a decent show or two after skiing can be entertaining.  If you like to gamble, you found your spot.
  • Don't expect a huge village like with Vail.  The Heavenly village is big enough, though, with enough restaurants and shops...just less of them.  IMHO the food is better on average in Vail...no comparison.
  • Mid-week can easily have no lift lines on many lifts outside the holiday weeks.
post #6 of 25

Welcome to Epic!  The Lake views are one of the things that makes Heavenly special to me.  

 

I agree with most of what quant said, and Sibhusky is certainly right if you want us to focus on the things that are important to you.

Quote:

Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

You need to give more data. What kind of terrain do you like, what level skier are you? What kind of town or base village do you want?

Without that sort of info, you'll get every resort on the planet coming at you. With it, you'll only get 25% of the resorts. :-)

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post
 

Heavenly is not really a destination resort--mainly weekend skiing for californians. It has good overall vertical but the vertical is broken up into chunks. Emphasis on intermediate groomers with some lower angle tree skiing and expert skiing in Mott and Killebrew canyons when there's enough snow. Not a place I'd go on a fly in ski vacation--I'd be looking for someplace where I could stay walking distance from the lifts. Also, Heavenly isn't that easy to get to by air--a long drive from Reno airport. There are dozens of places I'd pick over Heavenly. If I'm going to travel to ski in North America I'd go to Whistler, Jackson, or Altabird, of the places I've already been to. Big Sky is definitely on the wish list. 

Oldgoat is right that the vertical is broken up into chunks and that it is more crowded on weekends than during the week.  These might not be negatives for you.

 

It is possible to stay walking distance from the lifts.  The Stateline casinos are the most obvious being a reasonable walk to the Gondola, but there are also options up on the Nevada side (as well as the non-casino stuff on the CA side by the Gondi)

 

Heavenly is just over an hour from the Reno airport, so you may or may not consider this to be a "long" drive.  There are shuttles that operate and are less expensive than CME to Vail.

post #7 of 25

The biggest thing of Heavenly that you need to be sure to be aware of is if you are going with (non-expert) snowboarders, the layout is not friendly to them.  There is a fair amount of cattrack/flat to get to-and-from the separate lift-pod areas.  Everything else is somewhat more subjective and people may leave with different experiences, depending on what they chose to do or paid for in their trip.

 

As far as Heavenly's brand, it is trying to brand itself as more vegas-like compared to the other resorts in the Vail portfolio; with heavenly angels sno-go dancers and some loose partnerships with casino nightlife.  

But that is maybe just a 5% factor, the mountain is still the mountain while you are skiing on it. 

post #8 of 25

*

:D

post #9 of 25

When we have house guests, they inevitably want to go to Heavenly because of the view and the things they've heard about it.  We rarely go to Heavenly unless we have a house guest who wants to go because we have so much amazing skiing at North Lake Tahoe to drive past to get to Heavenly. 

 

That being said, lodging can be cheaper at South Lake Tahoe and make it an affordable vacation.  You can always take day trips to Kirkwood and/or Northstar for a different experience. 

 

Kirkwood = grass roots skiing with some amazing terrain

Northstar = low angle trees and amazing terrain parks for your snowboard friends. Love the tree skiing there. 

Heavenly = great views and some fun terrain but broken up and not necessarily easy to navigate. 

post #10 of 25

Heavenly's worth visiting for the view.  It isn't the best skiing.  It has strange terrain and layout as well as typically lesser snow than other Tahoe areas. It doesn't make sense to me as a destination.  Kirkwood is fantastic.  Some nice terrain, high base elevation and a lot of snowfall.

 

There are many, many destination places I'd go to before either Heavenly or Vail.

post #11 of 25

Whatever the case, don't come all the way to Tahoe and *only* ski Heavenly.  There's a ton of resorts in close proximity and it's fun to mix it up.

post #12 of 25

I second (or fifth :)) opinion on chunky terrain in Heavenly,  we stayed there for 10 days and half of the time the main gondola was not operational due to the wind or snow.  This makes the mountain disconnected into chunks. Another annoying point is huge traffic to get there  (get chains for the car and expect delays in snow) and more importantly a 5 min ride to the slopes will translate into 30-40 min during opening and closing times, we chose to pay for parking by the gondola (when open :)) just to save time. The village has no character -  your typical strip mall, with some good places to eat but not much. If you are into gambling , then you will be busy.  Terrain is nice to visit one time, and I DO  consider the views very scenery  - beautiful lake under the steep gondola climb is worth the trip. A lot of powder! Try other  mountains too ... One trip worth it , but Vail wins.

post #13 of 25

Heavenly's proximity to Kirwood is nice (Usually stay around Stagecoach lifts) , but otherwise stay somewhere around Truckee or Tahoe City and ski all the great north Tahoe destinations.  Or if you don't want to drive (not quite ski-in/out) go and stay in Squaw itself.

post #14 of 25
This was in my Facebook Newsfeed today.

And the link. http://vimeo.com/66370282

Since sometimes Vimeo won't embed.

Edit: Attempt to fix broken vimeo embed.
post #15 of 25

That vid makes me want to move to Tahoe.  Beautiful.

post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post
 

Heavenly is not really a destination resort--mainly weekend skiing for californians. It has good overall vertical but the vertical is broken up into chunks. Emphasis on intermediate groomers with some lower angle tree skiing and expert skiing in Mott and Killebrew canyons when there's enough snow. Not a place I'd go on a fly in ski vacation--I'd be looking for someplace where I could stay walking distance from the lifts. Also, Heavenly isn't that easy to get to by air--a long drive from Reno airport. There are dozens of places I'd pick over Heavenly. If I'm going to travel to ski in North America I'd go to Whistler, Jackson, or Altabird, of the places I've already been to. Big Sky is definitely on the wish list.

I have to disagree with part of this as Heavenly has the most out of state and out of country visitors of any of the Tahoe areas. I've ridden lifts there with people from almost every state and many from Australia, England and Latin America, It is not an easy mountain to get around or figure out, but there are some hidden connections that make for good skiing. Heavenly also easily gets affected by wind during storms, frequently closing the gondola and Sky Chair which cuts the mountain into two parts (if they can even keep those running - I've seen it when only Stagecoach was running and it closed). It makes it especially hard for those staying near gondola base without a car,

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
 We rarely go to Heavenly unless we have a house guest who wants to go because we have so much amazing skiing at North Lake Tahoe to drive past to get to Heavenly.

If you are going past North Lake Tahoe to get to Heavenly you are doing it all wrong. I know what you mean and would like to show you some of the goods at Heavenly sometime. I'm sure there are days like during the gathering when it takes longer to drive from Truckee to Squaw that it would from Reno to one of Heavenly NV bases.

post #17 of 25
I visited San Francisco from Europe last yesr and took two day trips to Tahoe. One to Heavenly and one to Kirkwood. I really enjoyed both, but as several posters have already mentioned they are very different. And I'm sure some of the other resorts in Tahoe are different again. So mixing it up seems good advice.

One thing I don't understand is why lots of people complain that Heavenly is difficult to get around in. In one day I skied on both sides and covered just about everything except Mott and Killebrew (which were not open). Sure I had to get the map out a couple of times, but compared to navigating around a big resort in the Alps (with locals who dont speak English) it was a piece of cake.
post #18 of 25

I don't really get why Heavenly seems to be the most popular resort in Tahoe for tourists. I guess since it has the most infrastructure and gambling? And is the largest? Heavenly is fine, but the lift lines on Saturdays are out of control. Even if you're spending your trip at Heavenly, I'd advise making the drive to Kirkwood for the day if your trip includes a Saturday. Unless it's a holiday or a powder day it's usually really quiet, and the mountain rocks. (On the other hand the short queues are mitigated by the lifts mostly being really slllooooowwww).

 

But it really depends on what you're after I guess. I've never been to Vail, but Heavenly is probably the closest Tahoe resort to how I picture it.

post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperkub View Post

I visited San Francisco from Europe last yesr and took two day trips to Tahoe. One to Heavenly and one to Kirkwood. I really enjoyed both, but as several posters have already mentioned they are very different. And I'm sure some of the other resorts in Tahoe are different again. So mixing it up seems good advice.

One thing I don't understand is why lots of people complain that Heavenly is difficult to get around in. In one day I skied on both sides and covered just about everything except Mott and Killebrew (which were not open). Sure I had to get the map out a couple of times, but compared to navigating around a big resort in the Alps (with locals who dont speak English) it was a piece of cake.

Some people, particularly snowboarders, don't like the idea of skiing one part of a resort and then moving to another part of the resort by staying on a cat track for a while.  I understand the extra work snowboarders have to go through on flat stretches, but it is no big deal for the skiers. Some don't like walking or skating up a hill from the gondola, but again it is no big deal.   What people forget is that the resort is huge, and skiing from one part of it to another on a cat track should be expected.  As others have mentioned, wind can be a problem forcing people to take the Tram or going to Stage Coach on the Nevada side in search of open lifts. These are also times when people can head to N*.


Edited by quant2325 - 11/1/13 at 7:14am
post #20 of 25

IMO Heavenly is tough if you like to spend time on actual trails. Get away from the dipper/sky chair groomers(and crowds) and there is good skiing to be found. I spend a great deal of time skiing there, mostly because I'm too lazy to drive elsewhere....it can in fact be a mess on the weekends, like the rest of Tahoe. There is big chunks of terrain that very few get into, that is where the good skiing is.

post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

This was in my Facebook Newsfeed today.

And the link. http://vimeo.com/66370282

Since sometimes Vimeo won't embed.

Edit: Attempt to fix broken vimeo embed.

I attempted to fix the video embed.  This is pretty cool  Thanks for sharing. 

post #22 of 25
I still don't see it... Hence the link.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by snoseek View Post
 

IMO Heavenly is tough if you like to spend time on actual trails. Get away from the dipper/sky chair groomers(and crowds) and there is good skiing to be found. I spend a great deal of time skiing there, mostly because I'm too lazy to drive elsewhere....it can in fact be a mess on the weekends, like the rest of Tahoe. There is big chunks of terrain that very few get into, that is where the good skiing is.


ha, well if you do want a groomer that's typically not crowded, you should be on olympic or even olympic->stagecoach. but now I feel i've said too much....

Again it depends on what you want or what you are looking for, for "good skiing"


Edited by raytseng - 11/1/13 at 11:16am
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

I still don't see it... Hence the link.

I wasn't able to fix it.  I'm trying to find out if its on our end or theirs.  Thanks though,  I really appreciated the movie. 

post #25 of 25
There's already a bug report.
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