Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ski Trips Near Las Vegas

Ski trips may not be the first thing associated with the desert, but Las Vegas actually makes the perfect base camp for exploring the Southwest’s best ski resorts. The resorts on this list range from one to four hours away by car and make for reasonable day trips. All are open unless otherwise noted, and all offer equipment rentals and lessons from quality instructors. Arriving in time for the first chair will have you back in Vegas for last call! Editor’s note: There is no such thing as last call in Vegas.

Southern Nevada
Lee Canyon
Less than an hour from the Las Vegas Strip, the friendly confines of Lee Canyon offer a wintry reprieve from the hot slots. The resort features nearly 3,000 feet of total vertical drop. Three chair lifts deliver skiers to more than two dozen runs. Opening day for the 2016/2017 season is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 9. Every year during the first week of January, Lee Canyon celebrates Elvis’ birthday by offering $20 lift tickets for skiers dressed in Elvis costumes. The day will feature live music and culminate in a costume contest where one lucky skier will be crowned “King of the Mountain.”

Southern California
Big Bear Mountain Resort
Two different ski areas, Big Bear and Snow Summit, make up this massive Southern California resort. Those who make the nearly-four-hour drive to the San Bernardino National Forest are rewarded with 26 lifts spread out over approximately 35 miles of skiable terrain. Bundle up for night sessions on Snow Summit during select dates. Visitors can enjoy $51 lift tickets as well as food and beverage specials Feb. 5 in honor of Super Bowl 51.

Mount Baldy
A slightly less crowded option, Mount Baldy boasts 800 acres of slopes. The resort is home to the largest and steepest slopes in Southern California. Nearly 30 runs in total span three peaks. There is something for every type of skier with traditional runs, open bowls and powdery chutes. Opening day on Mount Baldy is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 17. While there, be sure to enjoy a locally brewed beer or two at The Notch, the resort’s bar and restaurant at 7,800 feet that commonly hosts beer festivals, wine tasting events and live music.

Southern Utah
Brian Head Resort
Set just north of Zion National Park, one of the country’s most beautiful swathes of land, Brian Head Resort is perfect for a day-long ski trip from Las Vegas at a little more than a three-hour drive away. Its eight chairlifts service more than 70 runs. The base elevation of 9,600 feet is the highest in Utah. The annual New Year’s Eve party kicks off with a torchlight parade down the mountain after sunset followed by a fireworks display not to be missed.

Eagle Point Resort
As the resort’s webpage succinctly states, Eagle Point Resort requires “a little more driving” for “a lot more value.” About an hour further north in Beaver, Utah, this five-lift resort features approximately 1,500 feet of vertical. If you like to venture beyond the boundaries, the resort has partnered with the National Forest Service to offer some of the country’s best backcountry terrain. There are several gates around the resort that allow access to the slopes of Fishlake National Forest. Eagle Point Resort is slated to open Dec. 17.

Northern Arizona
Elk Ridge
This quaint “ski and recreation area” in Williams, Ariz., is like the Cheers of ski resorts. By the time you’ve explored the handful of cleverly designed runs, which will be sometime just before lunch, everyone will know your name. One lift takes skiers to an elevation of about 8,100 feet. After the 18th time of navigating Laura Falls, you’ll be more than ready to throw down a few cold ones with the locals at White Stag Cafe. It’s at the bottom of the hill. You literally cannot miss it.

Arizona Snowbowl
Located on the western slope of Mount Humphreys, the tallest point in the state and the most recognizable point on the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona Snowbowl is one of the few places to ski in the state. Six aerial lifts and two surface conveyors deliver eager skiers to 40 runs, nearly half of which are rated as intermediate. The longest run on the mountain clocks in at a whopping 2 miles. Three different terrain parks will challenge even the most advanced skiers and riders.

Las Vegas may sit in a desert, but there is plenty of skiing to be done not too far away. For more fun facts and travel advice, follow VegasDaze on Facebook!

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