Rubicon Trail Hike: D.L. Bliss to Emerald Bay State Park

The Rubicon Trail in South Lake Tahoe connects two of the most beautiful state parks in all of California, D.L. Bliss, and Emerald Bay. For years I have wanted to hike this trail, but since I do not get to Tahoe as much as I would like, it has taken me a while to finally complete it. I can easily say it was worth the wait though and this 5-mile trail (one way) is now one of my favorite, approachable trails in California. Here is all the information so you can do it as well.

Details

  • 5 miles each way, 10 if you don’t have two cars to shuttle
  • $10 to park at each of the parks
  • In the winter the road to the parks are closed
  • Get there early as both lots fill up fast. I would recommend before 8:30 AM, especially on weekends and during the summer.

Getting There and Shuttles

One of the best ways to experience this trail is to get a few friends and a second car. Park one car at D.L. Bliss, in the back of the park near the trail head and park the other at Emerald Bay. This allows you to hike the trail as a 5 mile one way instead of a 10 mile out and back. I also thought that I might be able to get a Uber / Lyft when I went, but the reception was really spotty for me, so I would not rely on that, at least not with AT&T. Also, the trailhead is way in the back of D.L. Bliss so if you got dropped off near the entrance you would have to walk about a mile to a mile and a half to get to where the trail starts.

The Trail

I like starting the hike from D.L. Bliss as Emerald Bay is a great place to relax by the water, so it is fun to end there and hang out. The trail starts in the back of the park near the lot for Calawee Cove Beach. This is a tiny lot so get there early.

The trail heads out from right next to the lot, and it makes its way around Rubicon Point before starting to head south towards Emerald Bay.

The trail goes along the water 80% of the time, with great views around each bend.

You will begin walking along a small part of the trail where the granite encroaches over the trail itself, and there is a metal chain that keeps you from falling off. It’s not sketchy or anything though.

It then crosses a few small bridges which help you traverse some of the less flat parts of the trail.

The trail is rolling, so there are a lot of ups and downs but no real long sections of uphill or downhill.

When you come around the corner, you will reach this overlook which provides a fantastic view of the mountains ahead of you. I think this is Mt Tallac, but I am not sure.

The trail continues along the coast with magnificent views stretching out in front of you.

You will then cross into an interior section at about the one-mile marker. This is where the trail meets up with another path that leaves from the Lighthouse parking area in D.L Bliss State Park.

From here you will be walking under trees through an inland portion for about a half mile.

There are a few small water crossings along the trail but nothing you can’t hop on a few small rocks to get over.

The trail then comes back out to the coast for what is probably my favorite part.

This series of ups and downs, as you make your way towards Emerald Point, are just majestic with views for miles out ahead of you.

You will see boats and jet skis in the water, and it made me wish I had a boat to come over here as well.

At the end of this section there is a steeper uphill piece for a tenth of a mile, and then it goes back down on the other side.

When you arrive at Emerald Point, you will see a small cove that people like to sit at for lunch. It is pretty, and there are often boats sitting in the cove as well.

I didn’t see a good way to go out to Emerald Point, so I kept going on the trail as it headed inland toward the state park.

After another half mile, you will reach the boat camp, where there are camping sites and where you can dock your boat to explore the bay. There is a pier here as well.

As you leave this area, you will get your first view of Fanette Island, the small rock outcropping in the middle of Emerald Bay with the historic Tea House on top of it.

You can also see Vikingsholm which is the mansion/castle at the bottom of Emerald Bay in the distance. The trail continues past Parsons Rock before arriving in Emerald Bay proper.

This area is a great spot to relax at, especially if you brought a second car here. Do note it is a tough uphill to get out of the bay and back to the parking lot though. Here are a few recommendations for what to do in Emerald Bay.

If you didn’t bring a car, then you will want to head back the way you came to DL Bliss. Be sure to stop by the visitors center and grab a popsicle before heading back though.

Video

Here is a video I made on the trail as well.

As you can no doubt see, this is a fantastic California hike. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think if you go in the comments.

Cascade Falls Hike in South Lake Tahoe

Cascade Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the South Lake Tahoe area when it is flowing. You can see it in the distance when you make the drive to South Lake Tahoe from Emerald Bay, and it is surprisingly quick to hike there as well. The trail is only 1.5 miles round trip, but don’t let that make you think it is easy as there is a good amount of both uphill and downhill on your way to the waterfall. Here is all the information so you can check it out.

Details

  • 1.5 miles
  • 150 feet of elevation
  • Not much shade
  • Location: Bayview Trailhead on Emerald Bay Road

Getting There

The trailhead for Cascade Falls is located right across the street from Inspiration Point, the viewpoint for Emerald Lake, and it is called the Bayview Trailhead. It can get pretty busy during the weekends, so go early. During the weekdays there is usually parking in the small lot about a quarter mile from the road though, and the turnaround is relatively fast since the hike is short. There is no charge to park.

The Trail

Leaving from the parking lot, the trail starts a gradual uphill through one of the most shaded areas of the hike.

After about a tenth of a mile, you will be out in the open again on the roughly hewn rock stairs that you will be cursing by the end of this hike.

This hike is short, but it has a lot of up and down on a series of rough stairs all the way to the waterfall. Most people can do it, but it is harder than you would think.

After about a quarter of a mile, you will reach a small leveled off area that provides your first view of the falls. This is also where people turn around if they are not feeling motivated to go down to the falls.

From here you continue downhill for the next quarter mile as you get excellent views of Cascade Lake to your left.

The trail eventually flattens out before making the last uphill push.

When you get past this upward section, you will be looking down on the waterfall and can make your way along one of the many different spurs to get down close to it.

Unfortunately, there is no real front view of the falls, so you just have to take it in from this angle, but it is still impressive.

My wife and I walked around trying to find different views, and the best was to the left side near the cliff, where you could see the flow better.

After hanging out for 20 minutes in the shade, we made the hike back which is mostly uphill on the rock steps. Make sure to plan accordingly for this. If you have a chance, check out this waterfall soon. 2017 is a fantastic year for waterfalls with all of the snow melt, and this is no exception. Let me know what you think in the comments and check out more activities in Tahoe here.

Cave Rock: Best Sunset Spot in South Lake Tahoe

If you are looking for one of the best sunset views in all of South Lake Tahoe, then look no further then Cave Rock. This spot is popular with the locals, and for good reason, as it is a fantastic place that is easy to access and that provides an 180-degree view of the lake. Here is all the info.

Details

  • 1-mile round trip
  • Free
  • Very limited parking

Getting There

The small parking area for Cave Rock is located on Cave Rock Road just south of the tunnels on the east side of Lake Tahoe. When you head up the small road, you will reach a little parking area after about a half mile (near 669 Cave Rock Dr). There is only room for six cars or so there, be sure to get there early if you want to get a spot.

The Trail

From the parking area, you will walk up the easy to follow dirt path.

This wide dirt road takes you along the side of the mountain, providing views of the rock to your left that is your destination.

Eventually, the trail splits, and you will want to head towards the rock.

When you get to the base, you will need to do some scrambling to get up to the top of the rock itself. This part can be steep so take your time.

Getting to the top of Cave Rock gives you a spectacular viewpoint of the lake and the surrounding area, including the road below.

It is rocky and uneven, but there is enough room up there for a few dozen or so people to sit.

I spent about an hour and a half on top of the rock with my wife and 15 other strangers, and it was one of the best sunsets I have ever seen.

The light was just crazy as the colors danced across the sky. After the sun had gone down, we got out our flashlights and made our way back to the car. Be sure to bring on if you plan to stay past dark.

All in all, this is a fantastic spot to watch the sunset in South Lake Tahoe. Be sure to check it out if you get a chance and let me know what you think in the comments.

The Landing Resort & Spa in South Lake Tahoe

Located only a stone’s throw from Heavenly Village and the casinos of South Lake Tahoe, The Landing Tahoe Resort & Spa feels like it is worlds away. This luxury hotel, situated right next to the lake is full of amenities, a fantastic restaurant and is a great home away from home in South Lake Tahoe. I got a chance to spend a few days there with my wife and I am sure we will be back, here is all the information.

Details

  • Book Here
  • Amenities: Turn down service, champagne welcome, valet, bike rentals, beach access, heated bathroom floors, heated toilet seat
  • Location: 4104 Lakeshore Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Getting There

Heading north on Highway 50 through South Lake Tahoe, you will want to turn left on Park Ave, then right on Pine Blvd. From there you will turn left on Stateline Ave and you will see the resort on the left hand side.

The Hotel

Upon arriving at the hotel, you will be helped to check in by the valets and given a glass of champagne to drink while getting checked into the hotel. After getting keys, one of the employees took our car near to the room, and another gave us a tour of the small property, helped us get our bags and took them up to the room for us. This whole experience was fantastic and easily made me more excited about the hotel.

Our room was in a great location on the second floor with a view of Lake Tahoe right from the balcony.

The king sized bed was comfortable and the room had a light switch operated fireplace for when it got cold.

The bathroom was immaculate with stone floors, heated so they were never cold, and a beautiful granite shower. Even the toilet seat had a light and could be heated with the press of a button. These things were fun but didn’t matter as much for us in the summer, in the winter I am sure they are a huge win though.

Since we were celebrating, they even included a bottle of champagne in the mini fridge in the room for us. This was above and beyond what we expected and was a lot of fun to receive. The property also features a workout room and restaurant. We took advantage of the restaurant multiple times but didn’t visit the workout room, priorities right?

One of the things we did love though was the bikes you could check out for free when you stayed at the hotel. We took them up to the Heavenly Village which was a short 5-minute bike ride away and then locked them up and explored the shops and eateries.

Across from the hotel is a private beach and being a guest gives you access to it. It is a great spot to hang out at during the day and there is even a playground for children. We also watched the sunset here, but it was honestly hard to beat the view from our room for sunset.

Jimmy’s Restaurant

The restaurant on the property, Jimmy’s is one of the best hotel restaurants I have been to. Two of the dishes, in particular, were enough for my wife and I to go back a second night, the rack of lamb and the Kataifi wrapped feta. You can read all about the restaurant in this post since it was good enough to warrant its own post.

As you can no doubt see, The Landing Resort in Lake Tahoe is a great place to stay in the city. I can’t wait to return again, and if you go be sure to check out my guide on what to do in South Lake Tahoe here and the video I made below.

Disclosure: This stay was provided free of charge, but all opinions are my own.

Jimmy’s Restaurant at The Landing Resort in South Lake Tahoe

When writing about hotels and their restaurants, I don’t generally split them apart, but Jimmy’s in South Lake Tahoe was so good that I couldn’t help but write a post solely about it. Even if you are not staying at The Landing Resort & Spa, if you are looking for a nice romantic dinner in South Lake Tahoe then give Jimmy’s a try, here is all the information.

Details

  • Cost: $20 – $40
  • Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Location: 4104 Lakeshore Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Getting There

Jimmy’s Restaurant is located inside the Landing Resort and Spa in South Lake Tahoe. There is parking across the street for the restaurant, but it can be busy during the summer as people park there to visit the beach as well.

The Restaurant

After parking, you will see the large outdoor patio for Jimmy’s and can proceed into the restaurant to be seated. I do recommend that you make a reservation on the weekends as it can be busy.

I always opted to sit outside as it was beautiful to overlook the water with the dimly lit market lights providing an excellent mood.

The patio is especially fun for sunset as the sun goes down through the trees and over the lake in front of you.

The Food

The menu is relatively small, but pretty much everything we had was awesome. Do note this place is pricey, which is why I recommend it for a nice romantic dinner. It was easily worth it though, and we ate two dinners and a breakfast here. Below is what we ordered, but the huge standouts are the feta and the lamb, everything else is below those two as they are both mind blowing and I highly recommend them.

Kataifi Wrapped Feta – Fresh, mild, and delicious feta imported from Greece that is subtle but slightly tangy.  Served with crunchy filo dough like you would find on baklava and topped honey and a raisin oregano dressing. This dish is so incredible with a perfect combination of a sweet and savory taste. The cheese is rich and creamy, but the honey mellows it out and completes the flavor profile. It made me realize that I have never had high-quality feta before as it is often a throwaway cheese for me. I can’t overstate how good this dish is, my wife and I went back and ordered it again the second night. The only other time that has happened on a trip was at Brenda’s in San Francisco which is one of my favorite places in California. Be sure to order it; you won’t be let down.

Zucchini Keftedes – Flash fried zucchini cake sitting on tabbouleh and homemade ranch. It’s a nice fresh take on pub style Greek dish which gives you that lightly battered zucchini taste in a subtle way. The ranch is a great compliment as it does not overpower the dish like you often expect it too. It’s great but if you can only choose one, choose the feta.

Tiger shrimp – Crazy to think that you can order a dish and have only two shrimp but these shrimp are massive and are more like lobster than shrimp. I can only describe them as perfectly succulent. The shrimp is fantastic, and it has a rich flavor from the light batter and the grits it’s served on.

Rack of Lamb – Don’t worry about anything else for an entree just order the lamb. I don’t usually order lamb as it is not one of my favorite meats but it was recommended, and I am so glad I did. It was easily one of the best dishes I have had in the last few months. The meat is cooked perfectly and melts in your mouth. Even the rub of spices they use on the crust of the meat is perfectly set up to compliment the dish. The tzatziki, which is a Greek yogurt sauce, is served below the meat and it is a nice way to calm the heavy flavor down. Even the orzo isn’t a throwaway side and it has an excellent olive oil, Greek spice and citrus flavor.

Fish of the day – This is what my wife got, and when we went it was a halibut served on top of a citrus rice with zucchini. The fish is light and summery. It is cooked well, and flakes apart on your fork then melts in your mouth. It has a nice lemon zest to finish off the flavor.

Baklava – Not a traditional baklava, it is almost more of a pie. The flakey top goes well with the nice gooey filling. I recommend getting it with a scoop of ice cream to take it to the next level.

Breakfast

We also came for breakfast one morning when we were at the hotel and here is what we ordered.

Loukoumades – Small dough balls covered in cinnamon, honey and an orange glaze. Nice sweet addition to the breakfast that everyone can share but not one of my favorite dishes.

Jimmy’s Smashed Avocado Toast – They don’t hold back on the avocado which I appreciated. Topped with thick slices of fresh tomato, roasted chili feta, and eggs any style. I recommend over easy as the yolk adds a good flavor to the dish. It’s a filling breakfast that’s well done for a simple classic. The bread is easy to chew which is nice as that is not always the case with avocado toast.

Chilaquiles – A tasty and spicy red enchilada sauce that marinades with the chips so that they are soft but still have a little crunch. The feta and cilantro add a fresh taste to the dish and the eggs on top finish it off. It’s a simple dish with a lot of flavors and just the right amount of burn. If you like chilaquiles, you will like them here.

Jimmy’s Restaurant in South Lake Tahoe is a fantastic place for a nice relaxing meal in the city. If you are looking for something with excellent food and a relaxed atmosphere, then look no further. Let me know what you think if you have been in the comments.

Disclosure: A few of these meals were provided free of charge, all opinions are my own though.

Hotel Azure in South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe has no shortage of hotels to choose from when you visit; for me though, I like the places that feel more quaint over the large casino hotels. You will usually find me at a place like Hotel Azure or The Landing Resort when I visit South Lake Tahoe. Hotel Azure is a fantastic spot for families as it has large open rooms, is close to many of the downtown restaurants and is right across the street from the water. I only stayed one night, but I could easily see myself staying again. Here is all the information so you can check it out as well.

Details

  • Book Here
  • Amenities: Bikes to check out, two spas, pool, workout room and game room.

Getting There

Hotel Azure is located south of Heavenly Village on Highway 50. It is right before the bend in the road on the left-hand side (if you are heading south). There is a large parking lot with lots of space that you can use as a guest.

The Hotel

Hotel Azure just recently completed a major renovation and rebrand in early 2017, and it shows with the newly redone facade and beautiful rooms. Checking into the hotel was an easy and pleasant experience with multiple people working the front desk.

Our room was in a fantastic location on the third floor, and it looked down on the pool and the lake in the distance from the large balcony.

The bedroom was massive with a large kind sized bed, small couch, and flat screen TV. I always appreciate when hotel rooms are large like this as it feels like you have more room to relax.

The bathroom was renovated as well, with a second sink outside of the bathroom itself and a walk in closet next to it.

We didn’t spend much time in the room though as the hotel has some great amenities like the dual spa and pool.

There is also a game room with air hockey and pool next to the fitness center.

They provide bikes that you can check out, which is great as it is right across the street from a bike path and right next to some restaurants you can bike to for food. My favorites are:

MacDuffs

One of my favorite spots in Lake Tahoe, get the fish and chips and the bread pudding.

Sprouts

Great spot for the vegetarians and meat eaters alike. I recommend the nachos.

Bear Beach Cafe

Basically attached to the hotel, this diner is a great spot for breakfast; the muffins are especially good.

As you can see, this is a fun place to stay in Lake Tahoe, especially for families. Let me know what you think in the comments and check out my other South Lake Tahoe recommendations here.

Disclosure: This stay was provided free of charge, all opinions are my own.

Lower Eagle Falls in Emerald Bay State Park

Eagle Falls is a set of waterfall tiers that eventually cascade down into the creek that runs into Emerald Bay. This post is specifically about the short spur that leaves from near the Emerald Bay Visitor Center and goes to Lower Eagle Falls. It is a short .3 miles if you leave from there, but the closest parking lot is a mile away which adds 2 miles to the hike round trip. This is a great waterfall in one of my favorite state parks in all of California through, read on for all the information.

Details

  • .6 miles round trip from Emerald Bay, additional 2 miles round trip to the parking lot.
  • 50-100 feet of elevation gain from Emerald Bay
  • $10 to park

Getting There

The hike is located in Emerald Bay State Park, which one of the busiest spots in South Lake Tahoe. I would recommend getting to the lot before 8:30 AM if you go on a summer weekend as the parking lot is not very big and it fills fast. Be sure to pay the attendant or fill out the parking slip before hiking down.

The Trail

The hike down to Emerald Bay is no big deal on the way down but it is tough to hike out of on the way back up, especially if it is hot, so take your time.

When you make it down to Emerald Bay, proceed to the visitors center, which is where the trailhead for Lower Eagle Falls leaves from.

The trail heads uphill the entire time, staying with a creek for the first tenth of a mile.

You will reach a bridge which provides a nice view of the stream and a small waterfall in front of you, but don’t cross it for this trail.

Continue up the rock steps as they help you gain the elevation needed to reach the falls.

Eventually you will reach the platform that is the viewing area for Lower Eagle Falls.

I went in 2017 after an awesome winter, and the falls were flowing like crazy. It was impressive to see, and you got misted with water the entire time you were there. I walked around and explored a few small spurs before ending my time at the waterfall.

If you make it this far, be sure to spend some more time in Emerald Bay, tour the castle, hike the Rubicon Trail or kayak over to Fanette Island. Let me know what you think about this hike in the comments.

Red Hut Cafe: Hearty Breakfast Before Skiing in South Lake Tahoe

Red Hut Cafe is a staple in South Lake Tahoe. This diner has been around for over 50 years and during that time they have served hundreds of thousands of visitors and locals alike. The cafe now has 4 different locations in South Lake Tahoe, each with their own charm. I went to one of the newer ones located on the corner of Ski Run Road near the Heavenly Ski Resort. Here is all the information on this spot.

Red Hut Cafe-1

Details

  • Cost: $8-$10 for breakfast
  • Location: 3660 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Getting There

Red Hut Cafe-3

While driving on Tahoe Boulevard you can’t miss the Red Hut Cafe. It is prominently on the corner and it is easy to see from the road. There is a lot of parking in the attached shopping center.

Red Hut Cafe-4

The restaurant itself is big with tall ceilings and ski-inspired decor. They also have ski lift chairs hanging from the ceiling and old photos on the wall. It is well lit with large windows that look out at the road.

Red Hut Cafe-2

There is an attached soda fountain and ice cream shop next door that sells ice cream, coffee and old fashioned sodas, it is a fun spot for the whole family.

The Food

Red Hut Cafe-5

As far as food, I went with the recommended Red Hut Rosi which was hash browns, bacon, sausage, ham and cheese. You could add an egg on top as well which I did and was glad of since it added a lot to the meal.

Red Hut Cafe-6

My wife went with the egg sandwich and got the jalapeño bacon on the side for me since she is a vegetarian. The bacon was great and had a nice spice to it.

Red Hut Cafe-7

Our friend got a bacon waffle and said it had a lot of bacon inside which she said was a good thing.

All in all, this is a great breakfast spot before heading to the slopes or if you are just looking for a fun diner in Tahoe. I enjoyed my time here and was surprised that the food was as good as it was, I imagine the other locations are the same as well. Let me know what you think about the restaurant in the comments.

Beacon Bar & Grill in Camp Richardson

Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe is a historic resort that has been manned since the late 1800’s. Today it is a bustling center of adventure, history, and activities in Lake Tahoe. During the summer, the beach is full of people sipping Rum Runners and casually soaking in the sun on the beach, while in the winter it is a serene wonderland of snow with smooth water lapping at the white shores. Both are equally amazing yet infinitely different experiences. The main restaurant on the property sits right on that beach, and it is called Beacon Bar & Grill. I had a chance to visiting on a cold, snowy day for lunch, and it was fantastic, here is all the information.

Beacon-9

Details

  • Cost: $12-$16
  • Location: 1900 Jameson Beach Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Getting There

Beacon-3

Camp Richardson is located about 15 minutes outside of the downtown area of South Lake Tahoe. It is a beautiful drive that takes you out of the hustle and bustle of the city and into the surrounding wilderness. It is easy to find, and when you reach the main lodge, you will turn in and drive down towards the beach, which is where the Beacon is located.

The Restaurant

Beacon-2

The restaurant is comprised of the main dining room and small bar area. It is not very big so it can get full fast during the busy times (summer), but in the winter months, it is not usually too hard to get a table. The interior is minimal in its design style, choosing to highlight the large windows which provide a stunning view of the lake only 30 or so feet from the patio.

The Food

Beacon-4

The menu ranges from traditional options like burgers and sandwiches to more unique items like oysters and ahi. I asked for recommendations as I didn’t even know where to start and eventually ended up with the below items.

Beacon-1

Rum Runner – First off my wife had to try the official drink of Camp Richardson, it is fruity and flavorful, perfect for a warm summer day, but surprisingly refreshing in the cold of winter as well.

Beacon-5

Clam Chowder – A good creamy chowder with nice sized pieces of clams, an easy recommendation when it’s cold.

oysters beacon-1

Oysters Rockefeller – I have trouble skipping oysters if they are ever on the menu, and this was no different. The oysters were prepared well and were decadent just like oysters Rockefeller should be. Cooked with spinach; bacon and tomatoes, I couldn’t eat these fast enough.

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Sausage Shrimp Chipotle Nachos – I ended up choosing this as my entree as it just sounded unique. Be sure to have someone or a couple of people to share it with as it is massive. It is so full of flavor, with delicious shrimp, smoked sausage and a great spice from the chipotle sauce. The best thing I had here for sure. It does seem expensive for a nacho appetizer, but there is a lot of shrimp and sausage, plus two men could have this as their meal and be full. Easily worth the price to me and one of the most popular items on the menu.

Beacon-8

Ahi Salad – Not the traditional ahi salad you would expect, this had ahi, soft noodles with a crunchy top and a sweet seaweed type salad on the side. There is a carrot ginger purée that is lightly added to the dish as well. They give you ample portions of the ahi and all the flavors mix well together. It’s pretty much everything you could want in an ahi salad. It’s more of an entree than a salad, and it has a strong Asian influence to it.

After dining for over an hour and just enjoying the food and the view our meal had come to an end. When I decided to come here, I was worried that it would be a traditional resort meal which was overpriced and not anything special. I am happy to report that this is not the case though. Everything from the food to the staff and the atmosphere was above average, and I have no problem recommending it as an excellent meal in South Lake Tahoe. Let me know if you have been and what you thought in the comments.

Disclosure – This meal was provided free of charge, all opinions are my own.

Heavenly Scenic Gondola Ride & Heavenly Donuts

As one of the main staples in South Lake Tahoe, the Heavenly Village and gondola are both huge attractions for skiers and vacationers alike. I had been to the village many times before but never rode the gondola to the observation deck, but on my most recent time, I decided to give it a go. Spoiler: it was snowing when I got to the deck and I didn’t see much, but here is all the information so you can go yourself and be sure to leave a photos in the comments if you go on a clear day!

Heavenly Gondola-2

Details

Getting There

Gondola Heavenly-3

The gondola itself is located right in the middle of the Heavenly Village. You can park in the attached structure which costs $1.50 per hour. There are not a lot of other great spots to park at so that structure is one of the best bets you have. After parking head to the gondola but make sure to stop at Heavenly Donuts first.

Heavenly Donuts

Gondola Heavenly-1

Obviously, I never have a hard time being convinced to have some donuts, but when you walk by and they offer a sample you know it must be good. After the sample, I was immediately hooked and picked out one of their combinations they have. While there a lot to choose from I went with the S’mores and really enjoyed it. These are the perfect donuts to take with you on the gondola as you have a two-mile ride so might as well eat some donuts while looking at the view.

The Gondola

Gondola Heavenly-2

Since I had skied earlier in the day my pass was still good for the gondola, but if you are not skiing you can buy a ticket at the base. We hopped on and immediately started to gain elevation as the gondola goes pretty much straight up the mountain.

Heavenly Gondola-1

Be sure to take in the views as you go up this part as they are amazing. When you go over the top you will reach the observation deck which you have to get out on while on the way up as you can’t on the way back.

Observation Deck

Heavenly Gondola-3

As I said before, we entered a cloud of snow right when we got there so our views were nothing. I just had to imagine something beautiful out there.

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The deck allows you to walk all the way around a small hill and see down into south Lake Tahoe and the lake itself.

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There is also a cafe and bathroom up here as well but it is not always open. Since we couldn’t see anything we didn’t stay very long.

The Top

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When you get to the top / end of the gondola you should get off and go over to the Tamarack Lodge. This lodge is beautiful with clean architecture and a stunning main room.

Heavenly Gondola-8

I went in and they had music playing so I grabbed a black coffee ($5.50 which is a lot!) and sat down to listen to the band for 30 minutes.

Heavenly Gondola-9

It was getting close to 5PM, when the told me the last gondola would be heading down so we headed back and got in one.

Heavenly Gondola-10

The ride down was beautiful as the clouds had parted and the views were stunning. Unfortunately, the ride does not stop at the observation deck on the way down so we weren’t able to get off and see if, but it was still amazing to experience from our gondola.

All in all, this can be a pricey adventure for a whole family but it really is a fun experience in South Lake Tahoe. It is an even easier recommendation if you have been skiing as you can use the same ticket to get to the top. Let me know if you have been in the comments and be sure to leave a photo from the deck.