on February 19, 2001
The Heavenly Valley Gondola is new to the resort. It offers very convenient access to the mountain for skiers, but it is also popular with people who just want a spectacular view. Lift tickets cover access to the gondola, of course, but if someone in your party is not skiing, they may ride the gondola for $20. Gondola riders get some spectacular views of Lake Tahoe as they are taken up the mountain to an observation deck. The views from the deck are breath taking! Still, the view is the only thing you'll find. Currently there is no restaurant or even place to get coffee. We were told that a restaurant is slated to be built on the observation deck in the summer of 2001. Once this is done, I think the $20 ticket up the mountain for non-skiers will be more worth the money. After skiing one afternoon, we changed into tennis shoes and rode the gondola back up the mountain to the observation deck (one stop below where you would get off to access ski lifts). We spent about fifteen minutes there oohing and ahhing at God's incrediable creation of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and Lake Tahoe. I'd highly suggest taking a moment or two to enjoy the views from the observation deck if you have a lift ticket to the top (you may park your skis and walk around in ski boots before riding up to the lifts if you'd like). It's worth the time!
***A NOTE FOR SKIERS*** If you have a beginner in your party, do NOT use the gondola the first time you access the mountain. There are NO green runs to get you to any of the base lodges where you might get lessons. Once a skier has good control with turns and stopping, the gondola runs are fine. We took the gondola the third day with our son who had just started skiing, and he had no problems AFTER learning the basics navigating the blue runs.
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