|People lining up to board the Heavenly Mountain Gondola @ Heavenly Village in Tahoe.|
If it is winter and you are in California, a trip to Lake Tahoe is something you cannot think of not doing. And if you drive up to this absolutely magnificent alpine lake, chances are you will not want to return without having gone on a ride on the Heavenly Gondola.
Heavenly is a Ski Resort in Tahoe, partly in the state of California and partly in Nevada. The resort's famous Heavenly Gondola is a ski lift that transports people from Lake Tahoe Boulevard to the top of the Heavenly mountain. You don’t have to be a skier to be able to do this scenic ride; anybody visiting Tahoe or anybody with an aesthetic sense can take advantage this gorgeous show. If you ask me, a ride on the Heavenly Gondola is a must-do. Why-- you will soon find out.
The last time we were in Tahoe, it was in the first week of May. Even at that time of the year it was charmingly cold and there was some snow too. Unfortunately, the ski season had wound up and it wasn't Memorial Day weekend yet. As such, the Heavenly Gondola was not in operation. We did however, walk up to the Gondola Station in Heavenly Village on Lake Tahoe Boulevard, just to see the Gondola. We saw one car sitting still inside the building and the rest of them could be seen on the cables that went up to the top of the resort. That was the closest we got to the much-talked-about Gondola.
Like good travellers we promised we would be back when the skiing was season on, just to get on the aerial tram that vows to wow us. So we made our way to Tahoe again, this time in the winter; the first week of December to be precise. This time around, we even chose to stay at a hotel that was just across the Heavenly Village. And that turned out to be a good idea.
The first thing we did (after a quick breakfast, of course) on our first morning in Tahoe was pull out our snow outfits and make a dash to the Heavenly Gondola. It looked like a whole town of people in snow jackets, snow boots and ski gear were already waiting to be taken to the top. I was really surprised to see that the serpentine queue was moving fast, and thrilled that this time we would get to traverse this aerial scenic route.
Now if the Gondola is at work, it works all day long without a stop. So an empty car soon came by and swept us up. As we went further and further up, the scene only got better. The buildings of Tahoe seemed to get smaller and Lake Tahoe and the mountains surrounding it, started to grab all the attention.
In a few minutes we were in the thickets of Heavenly Mountain, already dressed in snow. As our cable-car moved into a point that was 9123 ft above sea level, we stepped out and let the biting-cold mountain air engulf us. We were at the mid-station observation deck and what we laid eyes on was a poised Lake Tahoe, sitting pretty in the middle of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The vastness and the beautiful blue of the lake seemed to belittle everything else that was within our eyes' reach. It seemed to outshine the snow-capped mountains even.
After what might have been over half an hour of walking around the deck, absorbing the captivating scenery, taking a whole lot of photographs and warming ourselves with hot cups of coffee, we went on the rest of the journey up Heavenly mountain. In a few minutes the Gondola got to the top station (elev -9136 ft.) and it was time for us to go look for some snow activities.
As far as the activities were concerned, it wasn't exactly our lucky day. But who's complaining! The ride was awesome and the scenes on the way, simply heavenly!
- The Gondola ride begins at - 8:30/9 am and goes on till 4 in the evening.
- The tickets for Winter 2012-2013, $36 for adults and a lesser amount for children and seniors (it is likely to change)
- The ride is around 15 minutes - one way.
- The operation of the Gondola and the snow activities at the resort depend on the weather.
- The Gondola stops at 2 places - Mid-station deck and near Tamarack Lodge.
- Make sure you have layers of clothing, caps, gloves and snow boots.
- Don’t forget to take your cameras, or you’ll be sorry.
- If you want to ski, make sure you carry your ski gear. Rent them from the town or you will have to go all the way down the mountain, should you decide to try out some skiing after you are already up there. Remember -- you will have to pay for every trip on the Gondola.
- For the hikers: There are close to a 100 trails here.
For more ticket details - Heavenly’s official site
Some other things to do at Tahoe:
Cruise on Lake Tahoe
Visit the many beaches of Lake Tahoe
Go for a stroll on Lake Tahoe Boulevard