Las Vegas

The Best Ski Trips from Las Vegas

Yes, you can actually ski in the desert. Kinda.

Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort

Mention the words Las Vegas and images of casinos, Carrot Top, and the hot desert sun come to mind. The last thing you’ll probably think of is “ski trip”-but guess what? Sin City is within driving distance to some of the most intriguing slopes in the United States, including one that’s less than an hour away. So if you’re planning a road trip to get out of Vegas, a ski resort could be the best thing to lift your winter season out of the doldrums. Keep in mind, the following suggestions cover four different states, which won’t necessarily be following the same exact social distancing guidelines. So check in advance for the latest information on hours of operation and restrictions.

Photo courtesy of Lee Canyon
Photo courtesy of Lee Canyon
Photo courtesy of Lee Canyon

Lee Canyon 

Mt. Charleston, NV
Distance: 40 minutes by car from Las Vegas 
Formerly known as the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, Lee Canyon is less than an hour’s drive from Las Vegas with a base elevation of more than 8,500 feet on Mt. Charleson. The convenience makes it easy to hang out for the day and return home before sundown. It’s a small resort with just 27 trails accessible by chairlift with 250 acres of hike-to-terrain, although expansion plans are in the works. There’s plenty of room for snowboarding and tubing as well. The resort is family-friendly with free coaching offered to beginner and intermediate-level skiers (ages six and up). The new two-level Hillside Lodge was officially unveiled in January-you know, back before COVID became a thing-adding a modern touch to Lee Canyon with a heated terrace, patio areas, table service at the Bighorn Grill and Bristlecone, and grab-and-go coffee and bites from the Brewin Burro.
How to book: Check Hotels.com, Booking.com, or Airbnb for local lodging options.

Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort

Brian Head

Brian Head, Utah
Distance: three-hour drive from Las Vegas 
Brian Head Resort has a peak elevation of 11,000 feet, making it the highest ski resort in Utah. You’ve got more than 70 runs on about 650 acres, but the views might be the best part. The surrounding desert’s red rock formations make for a unique skiing-on-Mars kinda feeling. The long green runs, knowledgeable instructors, and organized lift lines are especially appealing to beginners and casual skiers. The resort, which dates back to 1965, is a place families have visited for generations as the town of Brian Head grew slowly around it. Fill up on Thai from Sook Jai between your time on the slopes. 
How to book: Check Hotels.com, Booking.com, or Airbnb for local lodging options.

Big Bear Mountain Resort
Big Bear Mountain Resort
Big Bear Mountain Resort

Big Bear Mountain 

Big Bear Lake, California
Distance: three-and-a-half hours from Las Vegas
Snow Summit and Bear Mountain make up the Big Bear Mountain Resort in the San Bernardino mountains, and the short drive makes it the closest California ski resort to Vegas. Bear Mountain is one big terrain park. Snowboarders love the jumps and the only superpipe in Southern California. Snow Summit is more suited for downhill skiing. It’s popular for families, although it doesn’t have a lot of beginner runs. The mountaintop is big on BBQ joints, including Driftwood and Hog on the Rocks, which has fantastic views. Of course, the scenery of Big Bear Lake is a nice bonus.  
How to book: Check Hotels.com, Booking.com, or Airbnb for local lodging options.

Photo courtesy of Arizona Snowbowl
Photo courtesy of Arizona Snowbowl
Photo courtesy of Arizona Snowbowl

Snowbowl

Flagstaff, Arizona
Distance: four-hour drive from Las Vegas
Snowbowl is about a four-hour drive from Vegas and your best bet for serious skiing in Northern Arizona. The 777-acre terrain offers wide appeal for experienced skiers, although beginners and intermediates will also appreciate the ample dry powder. A fancy new gondola is being introduced this winter, cutting the time it takes to climb 2,000 feet from 14 minutes to seven-and the more time you save, the more you can enjoy the slopes. Four terrain parks allow beginners and experts alike to perfect their skills. 
How to book: Stay on property in a cabin or take your pick of hotels in Flagstaff. The area also happens to be a great base for planning a trip to the Grand Canyon

Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Eagle Point
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Eagle Point
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Eagle Point

Eagle Point

Beaver, Utah
Distance: about three-and-a-half hours
Eagle Point is a little further away from Las Vegas than Brian Head, but drive the extra hour and you’ll be rewarded with smaller crowds, less expensive prices, and better terrain-including steeper runs. It doesn’t have the luxury elements and social scene of the ski resorts up north by Park City, but it has plenty of charm to balance out the “lost in the middle of nowhere” feel. A few condos and cabins have ski-in, ski-out accessibility, and you can grab some burgers, pizza, and wine at the Canyonside Lodge.  
How to book: Check Hotels.com, Booking.com, or Airbnb for local lodging options.

Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Lakes, California
Distance: five-hour drive from Las Vegas
You’re looking at a hefty drive from Sin City, but the payoff is one of the longest ski seasons in the country, sometimes stretching into June. And who doesn’t want to play in the snow when it’s 110 degrees in Vegas? The place is huge-with plenty of options for lodging and dining. Make a point to experience the German food and family-owned charm of Austria Hof, an old ski lodge converted into a restaurant. Skiers of all levels have plenty of options between 150 runs over 3,500 acres, not to mention at least a half-dozen terrain parks, snowmobile rides, tubing, and more. While in the area, pay a visit to Devil’s Postpile National Monument, where you can check out some trippy rock formations and the calming beauty of Rainbow Falls. 
How to book: Book a room, condo, cabin, or home directly via Mammoth Mountain’s lodging collection.

Heavenly Ski Resort
Heavenly Ski Resort
Heavenly Ski Resort

Heavenly

Lake Tahoe, California
Distance: approximately seven-and-a-half hour drive from Las Vegas
Out of all the resorts on the list, this one is the farthest from Las Vegas, but worth including since Lake Tahoe is such a popular getaway for Nevadans. With nearly 5,000 skiable acres, 3,500 vertical feet, and more than 10,000 feet in elevation, Heavenly is the largest and highest ski resort among the many that surround the alpine lake. A gondola lifts off from Heavenly Village in the heart of South Lake Tahoe, where it’s easy to explore shops and restaurants-or casinos, if you happen to wander over the Nevada state line. Between the lake and the endless pine trees, it’s hard to beat the views. Expect large crowds during the peak winter season. 
How to book: Search for local lodging on Heavenly’s website.

Sunrise Park Resort
Sunrise Park Resort
Sunrise Park Resort

Sunrise Park

Greer, Arizona
Distance: seven-hour drive from Las Vegas
Another remote destination, but if you want to get lost in the scenic White Mountains of Eastern Arizona, this is your spot. Sunrise Park is a lot more lowkey and casual than Snowbowl with 65 runs on three mountains, most of which are dedicated to green and blue options for beginner and intermediate skiers. It’s also easy to stay busy with sleigh rides, sledding, ice fishing, and zip lines. Night skiing is available on select nights. 
How to book: Book a night at the Sunrise Park Lodge. Otherwise, the nearest accommodations could be at least a half-hour drive away.

Photo by Scott Markewitz for Deer Valley
Photo by Scott Markewitz for Deer Valley
Photo by Scott Markewitz for Deer Valley

Deer Valley

Park City, Utah
Distance: six-and-a-half hour drive from Las Vegas
Deer Valley is all about luxury skiing-with close proximity to the charm of downtown Park City. It’s a skiers-only resort that doesn’t have much in the way of terrain parks (if that’s your scene, or if you prefer to snowboard, Park City Mountain Resort will be more up your alley). However, Deer Valley has incredibly manicured slopes and exceptional tree skiing. The place even hosted events at the 2002 Winter Olympics. There’s more than 100 runs on 2,000 acres with a peak elevation that exceeds 9,500 feet. Passes are limited to prevent overcrowding. The perks range from ski valets and a killer ski school to upscale shops and fine dining restaurants. 
How to book: Deer Valley has dozens of opportunities for lodging on property, including upscale hotels like the Montage and St. Regis.  

Mountain High
Mountain High
Mountain High

Mountain High

Wrightwood, California
Distance: three-and-a-half hour drive from Las Vegas
Mountain High isn’t as expansive and engaging as Big Bear Mountain, but it’s more convenient if you want to plan a ski getaway closer to Los Angeles. Beginners, intermediate, or advanced skiers have their own respective areas, which could make things more or less convenient, depending on your situation. Not much in the way of steep drops, but the night skiing is fun. It can get crowded on weekends with visitors pouring in from LA and the surrounding suburbs, but a lot of families will just be happy to ice skate, take the kids sledding at Yeti’s Snow Play, or warm up with drinks by the fireplace at the Bullwheel Bar and Grill. The chair rides offer nice views of the Mojave Desert.
How to book: Check Hotels.com, Booking.com, or Airbnb for local lodging options.

Photo by Marc Piscotty for Snowbird
Photo by Marc Piscotty for Snowbird
Photo by Marc Piscotty for Snowbird

Snowbird

Snowbird, Utah
Distance: six-hour drive from Las Vegas
Snowbird is between Salt Lake City and Park City, welcoming you with an expansive 2,500-acre resort with 3,200 feet of vertical terrain to challenge experienced skiers. Hop on a conveyor belt that actually passes through the 600-foot-long Peruvian Tunnel for a shortcut to reach the fine powder of Mineral Basin. The journey is a museum of sorts, dedicated to the mining history of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Snowbird is next to the less-crowded Alta, which has similar terrain, but is skiers-only and doesn’t have the same social scene. Ski both resorts with the same Altabird pass.
How to book: Explore local lodging options on Snowbird’s website.Sign up here for our daily Vegas email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than seven years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Trivago Magazine, Sophisticated Living, Modern Luxury, Leafly, Las Vegas Magazine, and other publications. You’ll find him with his boots off in the lodge. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.

Las Vegas

Actually Cool Things to Do in Reno Right Now

Thrift shops, street art, bakeries, and beer are just a few things Reno does very well.

Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.‚Äčcom
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.‚Äčcom
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.‚Äčcom

Reno’s charm lies in its pretense-free attitude. The “Biggest Little City in the World” has¬†a relaxed, Old West vibe that persists even as a bevy of tech giants like Tesla and Google have set up shop there in recent years, expanding the local economy and population.¬†Artists, chefs, brewers, and entrepreneurs have all benefited from the boom, sprouting a food and booze renaissance fueled by a collective creative spirit. Add to that the surrounding natural beauty-including imposing Mt. Rose and nearby¬†Lake Tahoe-and you’ve got yourself a required stop on any trip through Northern Nevada. Here are the best things to while you’re in town.

Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

Tour the city’s magnificent street art

Multiple locations
There are dozens of street murals in the¬†Reno¬†area, showcasing the city’s lively art scene and creative spirit. Much of it is curated by Art Spot Reno, a local nonprofit that leads a downtown gallery tour,¬†Art Walk Reno, on the first Thursday of every month. You can also follow their free interactive map for a self-guided tour of these colorful, captivating street pieces.

The renowned¬†Nevada Museum of Art¬†(more on that later) features sculptures once featured in Burning Man’s Black Rock City. But you’ll find evidence of Burning Man’s eccentric influence all over town, with public art installations like the iconic 50-foot Space Whale in City Plaza, and the imposing Desert Guard warrior who looms 49 feet above the city’s new billion-dollar downtown development, Neon Line.

Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

Go rock climbing above the Reno Arch

Downtown
Basecamp at the Whitney Peak Hotel has the world’s tallest artificial rock-climbing wall-and the Guinness Book of World Records is more than happy to back up that claim. The wall stretches 164 feet high and affords a one-of-a-kind view of the famous Reno Arch below. Open until 9 or 10pm, the experience is especially cool after dark, when your climb is¬†illuminated by the glow of the Arch and nearby casino marquees. The wall is suitable for beginners, and experienced climbers can also check out the 15-meter certified speed wall and indoor harness-free bouldering on large artificial rocks.

Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

What’s your winter style? Checking double black diamonds off your list or sipping a double espresso? Either way, Reno Tahoe has what you’re looking for-lake views and city vibes within 30 minutes of each other. Spend the day on the slopes, exploring a winter wonderland, then kick back in the Biggest Little City in the World, filled with top-tier restaurants, luxurious resorts and plenty of craft breweries and coffee shops. Start planning your next getaway at VisitRenoTahoe.com.

Inclined Burgers + Brews
Inclined Burgers + Brews
Inclined Burgers + Brews

Detour to Incline Village

One of the largest towns on Lake Tahoe, Incline Village will set you up for a full day of eating, drinking, and exploring the lake’s beautiful northern shores. The village-named for the Great Incline Tramway, built by loggers in the 1870s-provides quick access to a ton of trails and activities at Lake Tahoe State Park, as well as Sand Harbor and Diamond Peak, where you can take in panoramic lake views from the slopes. From there you can hop on the Tahoe East Shore Trail or hike to Monkey Rock, grab a beer at Alibi Brewing, and get lunch at Inclined Burgers.

Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

Sip and sample the craft brewery scene

Multiple Locations
Reno loves beer. And it’s got enough local producers to help put a boozy spin on the character of the city. Revision Brewing¬†in Sparks seems to be getting the most attention these days, with a heavy IPA selection and a whimsical attitude reflected in labels designed by local artists. Great Basin Brewing Company, with locations in South Reno and Sparks, is credited for putting the craft brew scene on the map here with its best-selling Great Basin Icky IPA.

The Depot, Nevada’s first combined brewery and distillery, is a historic three-story former train station. It’s within blocks of Pigeon Head (known for its German-style lagers and pilsners), Lead Dog (with a diverse lineup of recipes), and IMBń™B¬†Custom Brews (try the barrel-aged sours), which together make up the Brewery District.

Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

Check out the Riverwalk District

Riverwalk District
The Truckee River runs through the heart of downtown, providing a welcome splash of nature in the heart of the city. The parks and walkways that surround it are known collectively as the Reno Riverwalk District-all close to plenty of great restaurants, including Campo and Wild River Grille, whose large patios overlook the water. Head to Liberty Food & Wine Exchange for shareable plates and fantastic cocktails-or even better, grab it to-go for a picnic on the grass at Wingfield Park and watch kayakers paddle by.

Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

Explore Reno’s casino culture

Multiple locations
Gambling is legal in Nevada, but you won’t find any mega-casinos a la Vegas. Downtown you’ll find¬†THE ROW, home to¬†Circus Circus, Silver Legacy, and Eldorado, which are¬†connected by a nifty pedestrian overpass that allows you to carry booze between the casinos. THE ROW also rocks excellent martinis at Roxy’s, bottomless whiskey deals at Novi, and a unique atmosphere at¬†Rum Bullions Island Bar.

Further south, you’ll find Reno’s largest casino resort, the Peppermill, as well as Atlantis, which boasts an overachieving restaurant lineup. East of downtown, the Grand Sierra Resort¬†offers a great package overall: clean, modern, and fully renovated. Perks include a lakeside driving range, nightclub, and the Ultimate Rush slingshot that propels riders 180 feet in the air.

Liberty Food & Wine Exchange
Liberty Food & Wine Exchange
Liberty Food & Wine Exchange

Take a bite out of some of Reno’s best restaurants

Multiple locations
Much like the city itself, Reno’s dining scene has some serious momentum at the moment, featuring a combination of classic favorites-like Louie’s Basque,¬†Casale’s Halfway Club, and¬†LuLou’s-and inventive new concepts, like Churrasco Brazilian Steakhouse and¬†Von Bismarck. In Midtown,¬†S√ľp (which specializes in homemade soups) and Midtown Eats¬†draw loyal crowds. And Mark Estee, the most well-known chef in town, earned national acclaim and a James Beard nomination after founding Campo by the river. He later moved on to Liberty Food & Wine Exchange a block north in downtown Reno.

Photo courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Photo courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com
Photo courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

Bike the Tahoe-Pyramid Trail

North Lake Tahoe and Reno
The Tahoe-Pyramid Trail follows the Truckee River from Tahoe City in California to Pyramid Lake, north of Reno. The trail is divided into five sections with ranging degrees of difficulty, but you can also tackle the scenic trails on foot. The whole concept was founded by Janet Phillips, a retired Reno-Sparks city official, who spent nearly two decades promoting and implementing the 114-mile trail.

Old World Coffee
Old World Coffee
Old World Coffee

Wake up to Reno’s¬†coffee shops and bakeries

Reno packs a hard caffeine punch with multiple high-quality local roasters and cafes throughout the city. Hub Coffee Roasters has a few different locations, but the one you want is located just off the Reno Riverwalk in a charmingly renovated old home from 1932. This location is also home to Hub Coffee’s Tea Bar, where they serve teas from around the world.

Check out Old World Coffee Lab¬†near downtown for precision-roasted, small-batch, hand-brewed coffees. In Midtown,¬†Pangolin Caf√©¬†is a¬†beautiful caf√© and confectionary that specializes in Turkish teas and sweets, house-made toffees, and liege waffles. (They’ve also got an espresso bar for your Americanos and lattes.) And whatever you do, do not leave Reno without paying a visit to Perenn Bakery. This artisan bakery makes the most gorgeous breads, croissants, and other pastries and baked goods. The golden flake and airy crumb of their croissants is nothing short of art.

Courtesy of Nevada Museum of Art
Courtesy of Nevada Museum of Art
Courtesy of Nevada Museum of Art

Spend a day at the Nevada Museum of Art

Riverwalk District
The Nevada Museum of Art over-delivers as one of the most rewarding experiences in Reno. As the only accredited art museum in Nevada, the institution brings world-class exhibits to town such as¬†Living Modern, a tribute to Georgia O’Keeffe. City of Dust, NMA’s¬†exhibit dedicated to the 30-year history of Burning Man, is now touring the country. The museum is also responsible for the colorful Seven Magic Mountains¬†installation outside Las Vegas, and even launched an art satellite (!) into space. And as if the two gallery levels, sculpture garden, and rooftop space with killer city views weren’t enough to fill an afternoon, the property is also home to chez louie, a French bistro by famed local chef Mark Estee.

M. Vinuesa/Shutterstock
M. Vinuesa/Shutterstock
M. Vinuesa/Shutterstock

Take a quick day trip out of town

Virginia City
Taking the half-hour drive from Reno to Virginia City is like traveling through a time portal. The former mining community of just 1,200 people provides a snapshot of the late 1800s with wooden sidewalks, saloons, shops, and museums preserved in Old West architecture. Hop on board a vintage locomotive and tour the mines that once made Nevada rich with gold and silver. Other popular historical day trips from Reno include a visit to Carson City and Fort Churchill State Historic Park.

The Emerson Bar
The Emerson Bar
The Emerson Bar

Dive deep into the biggest little cocktail scene

Midtown’s cup runneth over with quality cocktail bars.¬†Death & Taxes is a dark, dramatic speakeasy with a multi-page menu full of classics and their own specialties (many with some mention of “death,” “devil,” or “demon” in the name), as well as a premium “Baller List.”¬†The Emerson is the aesthetic opposite: a bright, bubbly cocktail bar that puts a mid-century modern twist on its creative cocktail program and hosts drag brunch, drag bingo, and open-mic comedy nights.

Rum Sugar Lime brings a bit of Caribbean flair to Midtown with island vibes and a rum-based menu. Chapel Tavern is a stylish-but-casual neighborhood bar that takes its cocktails VERY seriously, and none of them are over $12. Then there are specialty spots like Amari, a small but gorgeous space where amaro takes center stage, and Whisky Lounge, with an extensive selection of brown spirits from around the world.

The Lucky Star Gallery
The Lucky Star Gallery
The Lucky Star Gallery

Find treasures at Reno’s many thrift shops

Turns out, Reno is a bit of a vintage thrifter’s paradise. At¬†Junkee Clothing Exchange in Midtown, you’ll find everything from outlandish second hand costumes to kitschy antiques. Bad Apple Vntg is a quirky spot with a particular fondness for the ’80s and ’90s. For mid-century modern furniture, check out¬†The Nest; for Western and Americana vibes, try the¬†Lucky Star Gallery at the Vassar House. And while the Melting Pot World Emporium is not a vintage store, it is a must-visit when in Reno. It bills itself as “Reno’s coolest counter-culture store” and is stuffed full of clothing, costumes, accessories, d√©cor, instruments, flasks, pipes, tarot cards, and pretty much everything a person needs for Burning Man and beyond. Know your customer-this place was actually the Burning Man ticket outlet for 14 years.

Rob Kachelriess has been contributing to Thrillist for more than five years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Modern Luxury, Leafly, and Luxury Estates International‘s seasonal publication. He thinks Reno has a better airport than Las Vegas. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.

Nicole Rupersburg lives in Las Vegas where you can find bottomless mimosa brunches every day of the week, A-list musicians in residency every night of the week, and snow still on the mountains in the middle of August when it’s 115 degrees outside. Follow her on Twitter @ruperstarski.

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