VIDEO: Alpine coaster debuts at Tahoe’s Heavenly summer adventure park | SierraSun.com

VIDEO: Alpine coaster debuts at Tahoe’s Heavenly summer adventure park

Autumn Whitney
awhitney@tahoedailytribune.com

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A breeze rustles through the air as you zip down a coaster in the mountains. You turn a corner and emerge from the trees to see an open view of Lake Tahoe's blue water.

Experience this and more at Heavenly Mountain Resort this summer. Heavenly officially launched its Epic Discovery program on June 23, featuring zip lines, ropes courses, an alpine coaster and other outdoor thrills. Epic Discovery is the first summer adventure park of its kind in the region, boasting 12 outdoor activities that are fun for the whole family.

"We're really proud of what we've put together," Pete Sonntag, Heavenly's vice president and chief operating officer, said at the event Thursday. "We've got some really fun activities that people are going to love."

Epic Discovery's key phrase is "learn through play," inspiring people to learn about Tahoe's variety of ecosystems while enjoying outdoor thrills.

"This provides an additional reason for people to get to the beautiful outdoors and learn in the process," said David Edelson, Sierra Nevada project director for The Nature Conservatory, at the launch. "It helps to build the next generation of nature advocates and helps bring people out into nature in a way that's really going to benefit all of us."

Brand new to Heavenly this summer are the Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster and Skyway Canopy Tour. People ride individually on the coaster, which winds through rocks and forests on the mountain on a 3,400-foot track.

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Although the coaster reaches top speeds of 55 miles per hour, riders use hand controls to limit their pace. The canopy tour combines zip lines and aerial bridges, giving guests the opportunity to learn about the mountain's environment while completing course challenges.

Past summer thrills offered on the mountain in past summers, such as ropes courses and zip lines, return to Heavenly as part of Epic Discovery.

There are two ropes courses offered that range in difficulty, so guests can choose their adventures depending on experience level — and a third course for children under 8.

The Hot Shot Zip Line and Blue Streak Zip Line return to the mountain as well. Hot Shot is the shorter of the two, measuring 1,000 feet in length and reaching 40 miles per hour.

There are four parallel lines, allowing family and friends to ride at the same time. Blue Streak is 3,300 feet long and reaches 50 miles per hour. A kids' zip line is also available.

"We got this idea and activities, but it's the people who make it what it is," Sonntag said.

Sierra Nevada Nature Conservatory, League to Save Lake Tahoe and the U.S. Forest Service worked alongside Heavenly to supplement Epic Discovery with various learning stations that include Story Stakes, Animal Abilities and Pathway Stones.

Story Stakes feature information about animals and plants found in Tahoe's environment, while Animal Abilities stations showcase Tahoe's local animals. Pathway Stones are stationed from Granite Peak Climbing Wall to Tamarack Lodge and explain the history of Tahoe.

"Not only am I having fun, I'm also learning about the environment," said Randy Moore, regional forester for the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service, at the launch. "This is a prime example of how America should be working and moving forward."

As the learning component of Epic Discovery's key phrase is not yet completed, staff will work throughout the summer to fill out the educational experience of the offered thrills.

There are additional plans to expand to the Nevada side of the mountain, as well as offering water activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding.

The Ultimate Adventure Pass includes the scenic gondola ride to the top of Heavenly Mountain and unlimited all-day access to activities including the Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster, tubing, three ropes courses, a climbing wall and the Hot Shot Zip Line. It is now available for guests 8 and older, who are taller than 45 inches.

The Little Explorer Pass, for children younger than 8 and less than 100 pounds, provides unlimited all-day access to the children's ropes course, zip line and climbing wall. It also includes access to the gondola ride. The Little Explorer Pass launches Friday, July 1.

Blue Streak Zip Line, Summit Expedition Tour and Skyway Canopy Tour are not included in adventure passes and must be purchased separately.

More online

Epic Discovery will remain open at Heavenly until Sept. 5. For hours and pricing, visit skiheavenly.com.

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Helpful hints from Heavenly

When: Arrive early to experience attractions all day

Where: Heavenly gondola at 4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

What to wear: Closed-toed shoes and bring layers, as mountain weather changes quickly

What to bring: Sunscreen, hat, camera

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