Heavenly Mountain Resort plans to expand its summer offerings to include a bobsled-like mountain coaster, water activities, 4x4 tours and a lift-accessed mountain bike park.
Heavenly’s, parent company, Vail Resorts, is working on a plan to add ziplines, a forest canopy tour and ropes courses to its on-mountain activities near the Tamarack Lodge.
The company said last week it expects to open its current offering late this summer or in time for the 2013-14 winter season. Weather permitting, some of Heavenly’s new activities will operate during winter months.
The earliest Heavenly would start construction on the mountain bike park and Heavenly Flyer coaster would be 2015, with opening slated for 2016. To implement the activities, little has to be built upon the existing infrastructure, Heavenly General Manager Pete Sonntag says.
“The reason we chose these three is we kind of have a critical mass of visitors in these areas,” Sonntag says. “The idea isn’t to draw thousands of new visitors to the area, but to take the visitors we have and give them more to do.”
The company filed the proposal for the additional activities with the Forest Service and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency several weeks ago. The Ski Area Recreational Opportunities Enhancement Act, passed in 2011, allows ski areas on national forest land to expand the variety of activities they offer with the approval of the Forest Service. Vail Resorts is one of the first companies in the country to take advantage of the new legislation
The mountain bike park would be accessed from Tamarack and Dipper lifts and run down into the East Peak Lodge area of the resort. The terrain will feature eight to 10 miles of both cross country and downhill trails for a wide range of abilities.
So far, at least one local bicyclist has expressed excitement over the park.
“We have so much energy for bicycling here in Lake Tahoe,” cycling enthusiast Curtis Fong said. “We want to get the infrastructure here to be world class.”
Heavenly plans to donate 1 percent of all summer lift ticket and activity revenue to The Nature Conservancy. The expansion has received support from city and state officials.
“Lake Tahoe is a national treasure and I am thrilled that the Ski Area Recreational Opportunities Enhancement Act is creating an opportunity that will benefit Lake Tahoe’s economy and it’s unique environment,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California in a statement.
NNBW staff with reporting by Dylan Silver/Tahoe Daily Tribune