Heavenly, Calif.: Rank 13 West, 1998

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Heavenly is an upside-down mountain¿steepest at the bottom, more moderate up top. Visitors approaching its California side may be intimidated looking straight up at Gunbarrel, a gnarly, precipitous run. Fear not: Nearly 20 square miles of kinder, gentler terrain exists out of sight of the parking lot. Heavenly is more than a mountain, it's a grouping of peaks. "Scenic enormity" is how one reader sums up a resort that straddles the California/Nevada border and overlooks Lake Tahoe. Weather, views and annual snowfall here are nothing less than, well, heavenly. One reader gripes about Heavenly being "very, very crowded," while another praises its "ability to absorb and disperse skiers." You can escape the mobs, in other words, if you know where to ski. Problems? "Base areas lack atmosphere," according to more than one reader. But implementation of Heavenly's master plan and South Lake Tahoe's redevelopment scheme will change all that. The city at Heavenly's base¿South Lake Tahoe¿already boasts 150 restaurants and 190 lodging properties. Gaming and a world-class nightlife make it tough even for hardcore skiers to make first tracks.

What's New High-speed quads replace the Gunbarrel triple and the Stagecoach double; a daycare and children's center.
A Good Deal The free guided demo program lets you test the right ski for you with help from an on-snow coach.
Medals Gold Lodging, Après-Ski, Off-Hill Activities, Scenery; Silver Grooming, Terrain, Challenge, Weather, Access, Dining.
Don't Miss Panoramic Lake Tahoe view from Ridge Run, a favorite California-side cruiser.
High/Low Rank Scenery (2); Value (58).
Reader Remarks "Long runs with lots of cruising through trees, great scenery." "Crowded, lack of parking, bad shuttle bus service."