- Chuck Barney The Mercury News
It’s one thing to enjoy the beauty of the Lake Tahoe region from the ground. It’s quite another to make like a bird and rise above it all.
Here are two invigorating, gasp-inducing rides that will take you to great heights.
1. Heavenly Mountain Gondola
The lake stretches out beneath you as you soar into the sky in an eight-passenger cabin that carries passengers from a starting elevation of 6,360 feet to over 9,100 feet up to the mountain’s summit. At the midway point of the 2.4-mile ride is a massive observation deck that rewards you with gorgeous, shore-to-shore views of Lake Tahoe, the Carson Valley, and the dramatic Desolation Wilderness.
The deck includes a cafe and picnic tables. You can stay as long as you want, or continue upward to the Tamarack Lodge at the top of the mountain, where you’ll also find a snow play area for children.
Details: The ticket office is located in Heavenly Village, 4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe; www.skiheavenly.com.
2. Squaw Valley Aerial Tram
On this 10-minute ride, passengers climb 2,000 vertical feet and soar above a snowy granite mountain while listening to a narrator who delivers facts about everything from the history of Squaw Valley to the arrival of the 1960 Winter Olympics.
At the top is High Camp, at an elevation of 8,200 feet, and, of course, spectacular scenery. Weather permitting, High Camp offers a variety of activities, including an Olympic Museum that showcases plenty of memorabilia from the ’60 Winter Games.
Details: 1990 Squaw Peak Road, Olympic Valley; www.squawalpine.com.