The first dusting of snow in late October sends Nevada residents scurrying for the ski wax and the mountain resorts fielding reservations calls. Most Tahoe slopes open around Thanksgiving, but you can bet the lifts will be running any time an early cold front dumps a foot or so of the white stuff. Ski season lasts until mid-April—or until temperatures rise high enough for all the snow to melt.
Here’s a look at the best Nevada ski resorts and snowboarding destinations.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe: The closest ski area to Reno, Mt. Rose is perhaps the best overall resort on the Nevada side, considering cost and variety of runs. With a base elevation of 8,260 feet, it’s positively arctic at the top and chilly enough along the runs to keep the snow in optimal shape even when the sun beats down. Families will find something for everyone, with 43 runs evenly divided among beginner, intermediate, and expert. The 16 chutes—all black diamond or double diamond—are favorites for advanced snowboarders.
Diamond Peak: This resort is family-oriented, with special touches for children, such as private and group lessons, indoor and outdoor play areas, and all-day ski and day-care packages.
Northstar California: With lots of tree-lined runs sheltered somewhat from the wind, Northstar boasts perfectly groomed corduroy conditions. One of the most upscale of resorts, it’s nevertheless a fine choice for families. The slopes are not particularly steep or challenging, and there are plenty of beginner and intermediate trails and terrain.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows: This resort spans six summits with more than 270 trails and 43 lifts. Two-thirds of the runs are rated for beginners and intermediates, but as befitting the former host of Olympic alpine events, it challenges experts as well. Open bowls abound above the tree line, but the resort makes a name for itself with gnarly steeps and innovative terrain parks.
Heavenly: Downhill junkies rejoice, as more than one-third of Heavenly’s trails are rated for experts, and the more than 40 intermediate runs will challenge even the most proficient of alpine aficionados. The undulating, swaying blue runs are long and wide, perfect for snowboarders.
Kirkwood: It’s all about the powder at Kirkwood; the shopping is mundane compared to other ski villages, and you can’t see the lake from here. But you can see challenging runs, ridges, and cornices hotdoggers love. More than two-thirds of the trails are rated advanced and expert.
Ruby Mountain Heli-Skiing: Virtually inaccessible other than by helicopter, the Ruby Mountain backcountry slopes guarantee pristine snow and awe-inspiring precipices. Choose your own terrain: steep drops, narrow tree-lined corridors, glades, open bowls, and more.
Las Vegas and Vicinity
Lee Canyon: A welcome respite from the heat and bad beats, Lee Canyon is just an hour north of Las Vegas. Pending an environmental impact study, the resort will begin expanding in 2019, adding three lifts and dozens of runs—many in Mount Charleston’s upper elevations—that will double the amount of skiable terrain. The $35 million addition also would see installation of mountain bike trails, zip lines, and a “mountain coaster” thrill ride.
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