Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Heavenly Gondolas at South Lake Tahoe

Although our family is on a budget, it doesn't mean we can't spend money. Three activites we were deciding between were the Heavenly Gondolas ($32/adults, $26/teens), MS Dixie Paddlewheeler ($35 w/AAA discount), and renting a speedboat for two hours ($340/ten people or $34 each). While none of these was cheap, we chose the Heavenly Gondolas not only because it was the least exepnsive, but because most of us had not gone on these particular gondolas before in good weather.

The enclosed tram took us up 9000 feet to an observation platform. We experienced spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. Blue skies reflected in the lake and we could clearly see boats, Tahoe Keys, and the casinos at Stateline. We enjoyed posing for a professional group photo ($20 for four photos of various sizes in a keepsake folder), petting a baby raccoon, browsing the gift shop and drinking hot chocolate at the snack bar.

We reboarded the gondolas and traveled further up the mountain to Adventure Peak. During the winter, skiers disembark here for intermediate and advanced downhill skiing. But in the summer, visitors can hike the trails, as well as climb a rock wall ($10), or eat at the Adventure Grill. Some of us took naps in the sunshine on comfortable Adirondack-style chairs while others hiked to a point overlooking Carson Valley. In the middle of June, snow still covered some of the trails. If our teens were younger, they would have enjoyed climbing a net maze to glide down a giant slide (free for kids 12 and under).

Traveling to the top of the mountain on the gondolas was the highlight of our trip. The great weather and scenic beauty combined with friendly rangers and amenities made for a great family outing.

Next: Dining on a Budget at South Lake Tahoe

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