Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort

Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard ResortPhoto by Steve Fey
The crowd gathers early for
downhill fun

We have a lot of ersatz stuff in Las Vegas. We have a fake volcano. We have a phony Egyptian pyramid. Much of the architectural detailing on the big hotels is actually foam. Las Vegas has become rich and famous through the fine art of catering to dreams with false facades. So it is surprising, and hugely refreshing, to find something undeniably genuine and entertaining available to residents and visitors alike. There is nothing whatsoever phony about the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort in Lee Canyon on Mount Charleston.

I was there recently, not for the first time, and I continue to be impressed by the operation and its offerings. There is a Snow Kids program to teach children how to ski and board. There is Darkside Park, a set of changeable features for boarders. There are activities scheduled throughout the season for mountain enthusiasts of all ages. There is a master plan for future development as well, which you can view on the resort’s Web site. But the main thing available at the resort is genuine alpine skiing and boarding – and other winter sports – on snow provided (most of the time) by Mother Nature.

I lived in Colorado for 17 years, and I’ve skied most of the resorts in or adjacent to Summit County. I’ve been to Aspen and Snowmass, too. That’s world-class skiing, so I’m not some greenie raving about his first time sliding down a mountain. With that said, here is my review of the local hill.

Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard ResortPhoto by Steve Fey
No, it’s not Aspen, but what’s truly
hard to believe is that it is Las
Vegas

First, this isn’t Aspen, and doesn’t try to be. If you want to stand above the tree line and gaze into the next state, you’ll have to do some driving first. But if you don’t want to drive four hours to past Cedar City, or if you don’t want to spend three hundred bucks for lift tickets for your family – never mind the cost of a hotel – then you really must check out the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort. If you are a tourist, I recommend that you do what I did on my first visit to Vegas: take your kids on a winter adventure that’s a wonderful break from the beautiful but ersatz Strip.

You’ll find everything you’d expect from a good ski area. Four lifts serve the slopes, 60 percent of which are classified as intermediate. That’s good for me, because I’m what they call an “advanced intermediate” skier. (I tell people that I just don’t want to put in the time to become an expert. Hey, it’s an excuse I can live with.) Most of the terrain at the resort is blue cruising hills, where you can swoop side to side and leave a rooster tail of snow in your wake. I love that, but there is also some black diamond terrain, special features for snowboarders, and the gentlest beginner slope you could ever ask for.

The beginner slope has one especially nice feature. When you take your first lesson at most resorts, one of the first things you’ll have to figure out is how to use the lift to get uphill. At Las Vegas this isn’t a problem, as the beginner hill actually runs down from the main lodge. First you figure out how to stay on your skis, and then you can deal with sitting on a lift. This setup is unusual, not unique, but this is the only place within a day trip from the Valley where you can learn to ski at all, and it’s nice that it’s so beginner-friendly.

Bighorn CafePhoto by Steve Fey
Refueling at the Bighorn Cafe

While I was on the mountain I had lunch in the Big Horn Café. A large cheeseburger, chips and a Coke (advanced intermediate skiers get hot, not cold) cost me $8. There was some great-looking hot chocolate available at four bucks for a generous cup, with whipped cream. If you’ve ever dined at a resort in Colorado, you’ll recognize these as remarkably reasonable prices. There is a bar adjacent to the café; like the café, it is open until 4:30 p.m. every day.

Skiing Mt. CharlestonPhoto by Steve Fey
Getting ready to go down a blue
cruiser

For locals who like to ski but don’t like to spend a fortune to do it, there’s no better spot than Lee Canyon. It took me 70 minutes to get back to my Henderson home from the resort, a distance of 62 miles. If you live in Summerlin, it’s maybe 25 miles or so to the resort. You’re practically skiing in your own backyard! Rates are $50 for an all-day ticket; if you’re 12 or younger, or 60 or older, you get a discounted rate of $30. Afternoon-only tickets are $5 less. Renting a full set of equipment costs $35 (you can also rent a parka and snow pants). When you compare those prices to the costs of fuel, lift tickets and accommodations needed to ski at fancy resorts farther away, you can see why Las Vegas is so attractive to local skiers and tourists alike. It’s a real, natural, fun entertainment bargain, right here in (OK, just above) our beloved Valley of Meadows.

To get to the resort, take U.S. Highway 95 north to Nevada Route 156, which is a left turn. Take Route 156 until it ends, and there you are!

Comments

4 responses on “Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort

  1. I’m sure if one wanted one could actually hike on up to the top of the ridge line and get in a lot longer run. As for the bowl the resort is now in, there’s not a lot of room for getting off the trails.

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