Las Vegas visitors might not associate skiing with the flat and arid desert that surrounds it, but Sin City makes a perfect jumping-off point to ski resorts in the region. Nestled between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains, a short drive east or west from Las Vegas lands you on some great slopes. One ski resort in a scenic canyon is only an hour away from Las Vegas, while the others are best suited for an overnight trip (or a very long day trip).
If you're heading to the mountains for the 2020–2021 ski season, be sure to check for the most up-to-date information from the resort you plan to visit. While the slopes are open, many have limited options for accommodations and indoor dining, as well as new guidelines regarding advance tickets and face masks.
Just an hour northwest of Las Vegas sits Lee Canyon, a snowy destination for skiers, snowboarders, tubers, snowshoers, and fun in the snow. With a base elevation of 8,510 feet, Lee Canyon gives snow bunnies a chance to ski 27 runs from bunny trails to double black diamonds, with four lifts servicing the mountain. The 10,000-square-foot Hillside Lodge is equipped with an outdoor heated terrace and patio dining spaces; a ski-in, ski-out bar; a bistro; expanded restroom facilities; and a renovated Bighorn Grill.
Because Lee Canyon has the closest slopes to Vegas, it stays busy throughout the season but especially so on weekends and holidays. The season opens on December 11, 2020, and parking reservations are required before arriving. Ride-sharing apps can't bring travelers from Las Vegas to Lee Canyon, so your best options are to rent a car or to hire a transportation service, such as Transportation Concierges Las Vegas.
Brian Head Ski Area
Brian Head, about 200 miles northeast of Las Vegas in Utah, is close enough to Vegas that you can make it a day trip, although you might be too exhausted after a day of skiing to drive back. With an annual average snowfall of nearly 360 inches, Brian Head spans 650 acres over two connected mountains—Giant Steps and Navajo—offering 71 runs that are evenly split into easy, moderate, and difficult. On Fridays and Saturdays, night skiing is available until 9 p.m. for late starters who want to enjoy the mountain at twilight.
Each mountain has its own lodge with dining options inside, so you can stop for a break and a snack regardless of which area you're skiing in. The Last Chair Saloon in the Giant Steps Lodge is the primary restaurant and features barbecue fare and its own craft beer. For more casual food options, both lodges have a cafe where you can grab something quick.
Bear Mountain Resorts
Choose from two all-inclusive properties at Bear Mountain Resorts, located in the San Bernardino Mountains in Big Bear Lake, California, about 210 miles from Las Vegas: Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. A lift ticket for one resort also lets you use the lifts at the other, and frequent shuttles carry visitors between the two. Because the Bear Mountain Resorts both use deluxe snowmaking systems, they can stay open for longer without depending on natural snowfall.
Both resorts offer skiing and snowboarding, but snowboarders usually prefer Bear Mountain, with 62 runs and a base elevation of 7,140 feet, because that's where you can find terrain parks and half pipes. Bear Mountain also has the most extensive après ski options, with an area known as "The Scene" full of bars and restaurants. Snow Summit, on the other hand, only has 31 runs but they're longer, with a base elevation of 6,965 feet. Snow Summit is especially popular with skiers and families.
Eagle Point Ski Area
Drive north on I-15 out of Las Vegas and you'll eventually hit Beaver, Utah, where Eagle Point is located. The drive is just under 245 miles and takes almost four hours, but Eagle Point offers a 9,100-foot base elevation with access to more than 600 skiable acres and 40 runs. Situated in the Wasatch Mountains, the resort sees over 350 inches of snowfall annually.
Amenities at Eagle Point include the 12,000-square-foot Canyonside Lodge with a restaurant, bar, lounge, and hot tub garden; the Skyline Lodge, featuring a cafeteria and retail store; and the “Lookout” warming cabin, with 360-degree views of surrounding 12,000-foot peaks.
The 2020–2021 season, which opens on December 18, looks a little different from previous years. Visitors must purchase lift tickets, lessons, and rental equipment in advance, but discounts are available the earlier you buy.
More than 400 inches of snowfall on Mammoth Lakes, the ski resort about 310 miles from Las Vegas in the Eastern Sierras of California. Located off of the scenic Highway 395, Mammoth Mountain features a 7,953-foot base elevation and more than 3,500 acres of skiable areas with 150 trails, eight parks and pipes, three halfpipes, and 300 days of sunshine a year. At the Canyon Lodge, you can replenish your energy with options like Elixir Superfood & Juice, The Warming Hut for homey vegetarian cuisine, or First Chair Food Truck for breakfast burritos.
Limited daily lift tickets are available for the 2020–2021 season, and season pass holders have priority when making reservations. Mammoth is one of the most popular ski resorts in California and reservations should be made as far in advance as possible.