This article is sponsored by Heavenly Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe's largest ski area. To learn more about Heavenly visit Skiheavenly.com.
Thanks to sprawling views of Lake Tahoe, it's easy to just want to stay atop Heavenly's 10,000-foot summit and gawk.
But take one look at the trail map, and you'll pick your jaw up off the snow and schuss down the slope faster than you can say "see you back at the lodge."
With 97 ski runs, from intermediate cruisers to 1,600-foot chutes, laid out over 4,800 acres spanning two states (California and Nevada), Heavenly offers the most expansive terrain in Lake Tahoe. Did we mention that Heavenly also serves up California's biggest vertical drop at 3,500 feet? A network of 29 lifts ensure skiers and boarders can maximize on-snow time, while terrain parks like Groove, Ante Up and High Roller cater to every ability level. There's even an 18-foot halfpipe (which made its return this season after a five year hiatus), or--if you're more of a backcountry enthusiast--there are three gates opening up to out-of-bounds skiing, plus plenty of glades.
Of course mastering all these terrain features takes practice. That's why Heavenly's Ski & Ride School offers lessons for all abilities. Sign up for a group lesson, or take advantage of a private, where you can learn the basics, hit the terrain park for a freestyle clinic or master the steeps. There's even an adaptive program that offers guests with disabilities the chance to enjoy skiing or riding.
Slope-side dining options abound at Heavenly, but if you want to pair stellar scenics with a little indulgence, look no further than Booyah's Exotic Burgers and Brews. Located 2,000 feet above Lake Tahoe in Lakeview Lodge, this new, mid-mountain eatery offers 97 microbrews (one for each of Heavenly's trails) and--prepare yourself--250,000 mouth-watering burger combinations, each served on an epic bun and topped with Booyah Sauce. Opt for the peanut butter and strawberry jam version, or stick to the bacon-wrapped elk paddy -- you can't go wrong!
Just because the lifts stop spinning doesn't mean the playing has to end. After an afternoon session on the slopes (those burgers aren't going to burn themselves off), reward yourself at Unbuckle, where the après-ski party rages well into the evening thanks to half-priced drinks and food, DJs and the lovely Heavenly Angels dancing and hanging out.
For more information on Heavenly, from lodging to snow conditions, visit Skiheavenly.com.