The wife and I have a deal. In the summer months, we go to a tropical location, where she walks around in her yoga-toned bikini body and drinks virgin Pina Coladas, while in the winter months, we go skiing and snowboarding.
Since it’s winter, we decided that this year, we would head to Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe, located in the western part of Nevada, is a ski and snowboard resort and casino destination. It’s one of my favorite ski and snowboard resort destinations. For a combination of ski and casino options, where one can ski during the day and then gamble at night, Lake Tahoe is one of the best.
Lake Tahoe is beautiful and not nearly as packed as some of the more popular Colorado ski resorts, such as Aspen.
The wife and I spent four days in Lake Tahoe skiing on the Heavenly ski resort area of Lake Tahoe. Heavenly is located within walking distance of Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. To get to the ski area, if you are staying at Harrah’s, walk through the casino floor and out the door at the farthest end of the casino. After you exit the casino, you must walk towards the Heavenly gondola, which then takes you up to the ski area.
The Heavenly gondola is approximately a block and a half away from Harrahs.
It’s important to note that some websites incorrectly state that Harrah’s is ‘right next door’ to the Heavenly Gondola. That’s a very puffy and artful way of saying, ‘close’. Sure, it’s close if you’re a snowboarder, but if like me, you’re a skier walking in ski boots and carrying the wife’s equipment, then it’s not close.
For reference, here are some pics I took to help you get a real perspective of what it means to be ‘close’ to the Heavenly gondola. All three pics below are taken from the same spot. For reference, I am standing approximately 50 feet from the Heavenly gondola, which is to my right and up the stairs in the third pic below.
Harrah’s and Harvey’s is a block away…
These are the stairs to the Heavenly gondola…
On the weekdays, the Heavenly gondola opens at 9:00 am and 8:30 on the weekends. The line for the gondola starts early. We arrived at 8:20 on a Saturday, and this was the line. We were approximately the 30th people in line.
The gondola ride up takes about 5-10 minutes. It’s a beautiful mountain with awesome nature views.
Skiing at Heavenly is an awesome experience. The wife is starting her career in medicine, so she can’t afford to sustain a knee or leg injury. So we stay on easy black or blue runs. The days of skiing down the bowls or double black diamonds are over for both of us.
Lake Tahoe straddles the Nevada and California border, so when skiing on Heavenly, you can go to both the California and Nevada side.
After a day of skiing, we would hit the casinos at night. On one of the nights, we went to the Hard Rock Lake Tahoe. I shot a video of the craps game at Hard Rock. Stay tuned. It should be ready by Thursday of this week. I also wrote up a review of the Hard Rock.
On the days we went skiing, the weather was great for skiing and snowboarding. On a couple of days, there was light snowfall. On one night, there was a snowstorm that moved in and caused visibility on the ski runs to be impaired. I could only see about 100 feet in front, making for exciting skiing.
Check out the low visibility ski conditions…
If you’ve never skied in a snowstorm with low visibility and high winds, it can get a bit harrowing, but with enough experience, it’s quite fun. My wife was behind me during the low visibility conditions shouting, ‘slow down!’
Don’t worry, babe, if you’re reading this, I was never going to leave you behind; but if we’re ever floating in the ocean because our boat sank, you better make room for me on whatever you’re floating on.
View of the snowstorm that night from the top of Harrah’s…
Driving in Lake Tahoe at night during the snowstorm…
On the night of the snowstorm, we drove around Lake Tahoe and visited a few of the other casinos, including the Lakeside Inn and Casino. If you’re considering renting a vehicle, it’s probably wise to upgrade to a 4×4 SUV, especially if the forecast indicates impending snowfall.
The Lakeside Inn and Casino has the longest craps table I have ever seen, at 16 feet. It’s staffed by two dealers, one of whom acts as both dealer and stickperson.
My wife, who usually doesn’t play blackjack, played a few hands of this double deck blackjack game while I was playing craps. However, about ten minutes into playing, I hear her shouting to me, ‘hey, doubling down is limited to 9, 10, and 11. No soft doubling allowed’.
Noted for RoadGambler.com.
This is the only casino that I’ve ever been to where the $500 chips are white.
On the next day, the wind conditions were too strong, and the ski resort closed the Heavenly gondola. So we went skiing on the Stagecoach side of the resort. Stagecoach is located about 10 minutes from Heavenly, with most runs being only advanced runs. I spent the entire day skiing at Stagecoach but became bored a couple of hours before closing because it was the same two or three trails for most of the day.
By the way, the food at the top of the ski resort is outrageously priced.
You’re reading that right: $16.50 for a cheeseburger. This is the cheeseburger. And no, there were no gold flakes in the burger.
Later that night, we gambled at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Casino.
The craps game was minimum $15, with 3x, 4x, 5x max odds. I played for about an hour and at one point, the dice went around the table without a single person making a point. It was a cold cold table, colder than the air outside. Luckily, I was betting the table minimum. Unluckily, the table minimum was $15, so it still hurt a bit. It could have been worse.
The craps pit…
Across the street from Harrah’s is Harvey’s Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino. Harvey’s is owned by the same company that owns Harrah’s, Caesars Entertainment. Both properties use the Total Rewards loyalty system.
The pic below was taken from Harvey’s Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino.
Harvey’s is connected to Harrah’s via an underground tunnel. It is not necessary to go into the cold to go to the sister casino.
This is the underground Tunnel connecting Harvey’s and Harrah’s casinos…
Here is a view of Lake Tahoe from our hotel room…
I ended the trip sore from four days of nonstop skiing, not taking any breaks. The skiing was good, even on the day of the snowstorm. Actually, I enjoyed skiing in the snowstorm, even if it was a bit challenging.
For a pure deal on craps, the Lakeside Inn has the best craps game at 10x odds, with $10 minimum. Everywhere else in Lake Tahoe, we only saw 3x, 4,x, 5x. Also, their minimums were lower than other casinos. Be aware that the table at Lakeside Inn is very long.
However, Harrah’s and Harvey’s are the nicest casino properties in Lake Tahoe. We didn’t stay at Hard Rock, although the property looked clean, decent, and fun. The crowd at Hard Rock was definitely a younger crowd.
If you’ve never been to Lake Tahoe, and you love skiing and gambling, make a visit at least once in your lifetime. It really is a fun place with lots of things to do.