The heavenly ‘Heavenly Gondola’ ride

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...
Heavenly Gondola, Tahoe.
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.

Heavenly Gondola and Lake Tahoe

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!

Lake Tahoe from the Observation deck

Some notes:

  • 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


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65 Comments on this post.
  • R Niranjan Das
    1 March 2013 at 11:31 am

    Wow! The lake looks humongous and that climb is quite a steep one. You must have had stunning vistas all the way through. I had a similar experience while in Langkawi. The only difference was instead of the lake it was the sea. Beautiful post, Divya!

    • dNambiar
      2 March 2013 at 5:48 am

      It's a huge one. The last time we were there we cruised across the lake and it took an hour (one way). Lake Tahoe is around 12 miles in width.
      Stunning. That's exactly what it is. :)Looks like the sea itself, right — with that colour and its size?
      Is the Langkawi post on Tales of a Nomad? I'll look it up.

      Thanks Niranjan. 🙂

  • Ramakrishnan Ramanathan
    1 March 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Great adventure Divya. Lovely & spectacular views of Tahoe Lake & Heavenly mountain peaks covered with snow. Hope to make this trip next time I am in the US.

    • dNambiar
      2 March 2013 at 6:06 am

      You should visit Lake Tahoe the next time you're here. I hope you get to visit when the Gondola is in operation. Even otherwise, setting your eyes on this lake will be a great experience. It's so blue and beautiful. You'll love it, Mr. Ram. 🙂

  • jaish_vats
    1 March 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Does look like a heavenly ride!

    • dNambiar
      2 March 2013 at 6:08 am

      This Lift does live up to it's name. Doesn't it. Jaish! 🙂

  • Rajyalakshmi Vathyam
    1 March 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Lake Tahoe is my husband's fav destination in this world. He cannot stop talking about it, even though he left CA 4 years ago :). I am so looking forward to visit that place! Great post, as usual :))

    • dNambiar
      2 March 2013 at 6:21 am

      It is? I'm not surprised. It's a place people'll want to visit again and again. 🙂
      Lake Tahoe is a picture that'll be imprinted in your mind forever. I want you to see it too. I hope you get to see it soon. Hey Raji, you know what — they have photography tours around here. 😉

      Thank you, Raji.

  • Rahul Bhatia
    1 March 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Gondola rides are always exciting and fun and your lovely captures bring this experience to life with all scenic splendors:)

    • dNambiar
      2 March 2013 at 6:36 am

      I was so captivated by the view of the lake that I forgot I was on the Gondola. :D. Now I know why people want to do the Heavenly Gondola ride even if they are not going up there to ski. 🙂
      Thank you so much for your kind words, Mr. Bhatia. 🙂

  • Kusum Sanu
    2 March 2013 at 2:01 am

    Oh lovely! Did you go skiing? Tahoe is one lovely place 🙂

    • dNambiar
      2 March 2013 at 6:41 am

      No Kusum. Not too into skiing. For me the lake was the attraction; wanted to go up Heavenly to see the lake from there. We couldn't do it the last time we were in Tahoe.
      I've been seeing the lake from the Heavenly camera; the shot we get to see in the weather segment of ABC7 news and been wanting to see it for myself.
      And what a sight it was!

    • Kusum Sanu
      2 March 2013 at 8:21 am

      Yeah, the sight is quite unimaginable! I haven't gone up on Heavenly but, hiked up Mt Tallac and Ellis Peak. The aerial views from 10,000ft are fantastic. Glad you had a great time, may be next time I will try Heavenly and use info from your post 🙂

    • dNambiar
      4 March 2013 at 6:13 pm

      That's so cool. I heard of the trails around here; gotta try some of that when the little one is a little older. Can't wait. 🙂

      If you're going up Heavenly, mainly remember this (this is what they don't tell you): If you wanna ski, make sure you rent your gear before take the Gondola because even if one person from a group goes down again to pick up the stuff, they're not gonna give him or her multiple sets. That was what happened with us; a friend of mine wanted to try skiing but just had to let it be because it didn't seem worth it 'coz half the day was already done. And it takes a while to go up and down.

      The view of the lake was the best part, for me. But you've seen if from a height of 10,000 ft, right? :)Wow!!

  • Desi Traveler
    2 March 2013 at 5:25 am

    High above the snow clad mountains…. guess that is what heavenly is all about…. beautiful pictures….the second last one with cables and lake is the best….

    • dNambiar
      2 March 2013 at 6:46 am

      The name Heavenly is so apt, right?
      That's the best shot? I can see why you like that. Thank you. I love feedback like this from the experts. Thank you so much, Prasad. 🙂

      I hope you are having a great weekend, Desi Traveler.

  • Anu
    3 March 2013 at 12:15 am

    Truly its an heaven! Being at such a high mountain with snow all around is a sheer bliss to enjoy despite the biting cold and wind! And good god! what a view we get!

    • dNambiar
      4 March 2013 at 6:23 pm

      It was really, really chill at the mid-station. My hands froze, Anu. I couldn't keep my gloved on, it was awkward taking pictures with them on. And how could I not take pictures of the lake from 'up there.' 🙂
      The view was awesome.

  • shooting star
    4 March 2013 at 6:48 am

    I have seen lake tahoe pics on my US friends FB album….and its such a heavenly lake and yeah this ride is aptly named heavenly ride 🙂

    • dNambiar
      4 March 2013 at 6:28 pm

      Aptly named indeed. I was not so keen on the Gondola ride as I've done similar rides like that a few times. It was the view of the high-altitude-lake from higher altitudes that was the best part of it.

  • Meoww
    5 March 2013 at 2:46 am

    Tahoe is my husband's favorite place to be. I love your pics. Such a cool view from the top! My fav is the last pic.

    • dNambiar
      5 March 2013 at 7:56 pm

      Your hubby's too? :)(check out Raji's comment :)). Who wouldn't like pristine Lake Tahoe! Right?
      That picture's from the mid station observation deck. The ones before that were from the Gondola, as the cables will tell you.

      Thank you, Meoww. 🙂

  • Arti
    5 March 2013 at 2:55 am

    Ah, I am mesmerized by this landscape! Your commentary along with the pictures does complete justice to what you saw, all of it looks and sounds just that – Heavenly 🙂

    • dNambiar
      5 March 2013 at 8:02 pm

      And I'm flattered, getting that from an established travel blogger like you. 🙂 Thanks a ton Arti.
      Lake Tahoe is a destination that stands out. The views of the lake — from anywhere around it — really are heavenly.

  • Subhorup Dasgupta
    5 March 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Love the treat, especially the pics. Thanks for making my someday list keep growing.

    • dNambiar
      5 March 2013 at 8:04 pm

      So glad that the post and pics make you want to go there. You will not be disappointed when you visit Lake Tahoe someday. 🙂

  • aliasgarmukhtiar mukhtiar
    5 March 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Lovely pictures

    • dNambiar
      5 March 2013 at 8:05 pm

      Thank you. 🙂

  • umashankar
    5 March 2013 at 3:37 pm

    I am glad to gloat in the reflected glory of the gondola ride (guess that is all I can do in this life!) Those are alluring images.

    • dNambiar
      5 March 2013 at 8:24 pm

      You never know, USP. I first heard of Lake Tahoe in some novel I was reading, where a character was visiting this fairly popular holiday destination. Never did I think I'd get to see this place. 🙂

      Thank you so much. 🙂 Tahoe should get the credit for being this pretty.

  • Ramakant Pradhan
    5 March 2013 at 4:04 pm

    When I read Heavenly Gondola in the name, I imagined the topic maybe about the popular Venetian rides. Then realized you were talking about the ski gondolas. Must have been quite a view from the top. Lovely pictures.

    • dNambiar
      5 March 2013 at 8:29 pm

      Till I heard of Heavenly Gondola, the only gondolas I knew of were the Venetian boats. 🙂
      It was Ramakant. For me that was highlight of the day. You should check it out if you travel this side.

  • a Rat
    5 March 2013 at 4:08 pm
    • dNambiar
      5 March 2013 at 8:31 pm

      Thank you Rat. 🙂
      For me the lake was more exciting than the Gondola ride.

  • damyantiwrites
    6 March 2013 at 1:54 am

    Those snapshots are gorgeous!

    • dNambiar
      6 March 2013 at 2:07 am

      Thank you Damyanti. 🙂

  • Arnab Maity
    6 March 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I want to get on that heavenly gondola Divya! Neat captures.. thanks for sharing this beauty with us

    • dNambiar
      6 March 2013 at 8:04 pm

      Thanks Arnab. Nice to hear that from you.
      It's my pleasure. This, in return for all the magical scenes YOU show us. 🙂

    • dNambiar
      6 March 2013 at 8:05 pm

      Add this to that list of places to visit when you're visiting the US West Coast. You will love it, Arnab.

  • Rajesh
    6 March 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Beautiful and scenic.

    • dNambiar
      6 March 2013 at 8:05 pm

      Thanks Rajesh.

  • TTT
    6 March 2013 at 3:34 pm

    what lovely pics … truly heavenly !!!!

    • dNambiar
      6 March 2013 at 8:06 pm

      The place should get the credit. Thanks TTT.

  • magiceye
    10 March 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Heavenly indeed!

    • dNambiar
      13 March 2013 at 1:04 am

      Aptly named so, don't you think!? 🙂

  • Indrani
    13 March 2013 at 4:59 am

    What a huge lake and what an interesting experience!

    • dNambiar
      15 March 2013 at 8:17 am

      You should see the colour of the water from the lake's beaches; the blues and greens and the greenish blue. That's an interesting experience, too.

      Thank you for coming by, Indrani. 🙂

  • Roshni AaMom
    13 March 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Hi D! Visiting you after a long time!
    The gondola ride looks awesome! We've still not gone to Lake Tahoe despite living in CA!

    • dNambiar
      15 March 2013 at 8:20 am

      You didn't miss much really. 🙂

      You should do it sometime. The As will love the Gondola ride and you will love the views. (Don't I remember you saying you don't like cold weather? 🙁 Just brave the cold and go enjoy the place, Roshni. 🙂

  • Krishna
    15 March 2013 at 9:25 am

    Beautiful place… I think you enjoyed well

    good photography


    • dNambiar
      24 March 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Yes, I did. This is a lovely place.
      Thank you Krishna. 🙂

  • Kishan P
    22 March 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Wow looks awesome. Reminds me of a cable-car ride I did in the Smokey Mountains, minus the snow and the lake…

    • dNambiar
      24 March 2013 at 9:34 pm

      Doesn't it? 🙂
      Is the Smokey's travelogue on Road Bloke? Would love to read it.

  • rupam sarma
    23 March 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Beautiful photographs. Nice to read your post.

    • dNambiar
      24 March 2013 at 9:36 pm

      Thanks Rupam. I really love the photographs on your blog too. 🙂

  • AmitAag
    2 April 2013 at 6:14 am

    Superb! Spectacular!
    Thank you Divya:)

    • dNambiar
      2 April 2013 at 6:42 am

      Thank YOU, Amit. 🙂

  • Sneo
    4 April 2013 at 8:55 pm

    The last photo is terrific. We missed Lake Tahoe. totally because of time 🙁 Hopefully next time I am in the states…
    I am also a fan of layering clothes. its easier to shed them or cover up.
    Hope to do a beginners trail some day…

    • dNambiar
      5 April 2013 at 12:34 am

      Thank you Sneha. 🙂

      This a place I'm sure you'll love. Put this on top of that list, ok, Sneha. 🙂
      If you want to see the lake just as it looks in that last picture, you'll have to visit when the Gondola is in operation. You should also drive around the lake (it's a huge one, eh) and check out all the beaches. Tahoe is an amazing place. 🙂

  • Ercotravels
    19 June 2013 at 8:46 am

    Exquisite post, Divya! No doubt that the Tahoe lake is sheer beautiful and a superb place for adventure activities. so, images are looking amazing to visit.

    • dNambiar
      9 March 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Thank YOU. 🙂

  • Kalpana
    9 March 2017 at 7:33 am

    Gorgeous photos.

    • dNambiar
      9 March 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you so much, Kalpana. 🙂

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