Road Trip Guide to Ski Nevada
Nevada goes way beyond the bright lights, roulette tables and giant cocktails. This US state could very well be the country’s best-kept secret for skiing and snowboarding. Home to some seriously big mountains and some epic terrain, you won’t find any lift lines here – just great snowfall and unforgettable views.
Our tip is to fly into Vegas and take a seven-hour road trip to Tahoe via the very best of Nevada. Home to stunning landscapes and some of the most unique destinations in the country, it’s well worth immersing yourself in it all.
Fly into Las Vegas and get a red-hot start to your trip in Sin City. When you’re not lounging in hotel pools, taking in every show on the Strip or lining up for an In-N-Out burger, you might drop into Lee Canyon ski area. Just an hour’s drive from the city, there are only 445 acres to explore at this ski resort, but it makes for a fun day trip – and it’s well worth it, just for the sake of saying you skied in Vegas.
Then break up the drive to Tahoe along the way by dropping in to any of the surrounding attractions, of which there are plenty. Try the spectacular Cathedral Gorge State Park for some Instagram-worthy clay desert peaks; the desolate-yet-stunning landscape of alkali flats in Black Rock Desert, home to the famous Burning Man festival; and don’t miss a stop at the Lucky Spur Saloon, once named "Best Bar In The Middle Of Nowhere”, where you can enjoy a beverage or two right in the middle of the incredible Kingston Canyon.
Head to Heavenly Mountain Resort, which is perfectly positioned by beautiful Lake Tahoe and split between Nevada and California, so you literally ski in and out of both states. Those with an Epic Australia pass get unlimited access to Heavenly, which offers up 4800 acres of terrain and a summit that goes up to 3100m. You know what that means - insane views. Add over 9m of snowfall every season and you have a resort that’s full of powder along with a whole lot of personality.
Don’t miss the 480 vertical metre Gunbarrel mogul run; visit in March to catch the annual Gunbarrel 25 race, which is, what else, 25 laps of the moguls.
For glade lovers, get straight over to the Dipper Woods or ask a local to show you the way to Stagecoach; then have a drink at the Tamarack Lodge on top of the gondola, which hosts an epic ‘Unbuckle Party’ almost every night of the week with half-price food, DJs and of course, drink specials.
The cherry on top of the ski pie is South Lake Tahoe, full of surprisingly affordable accommodation options, trendy dining and even 24-hour casinos for those that want to try their luck before heading to Vegas.
Northstar is technically in California, but being just an hour away from Heavenly, it’s well worth a visit and is close to Nevada’s Mt Rose and Diamond Peak resorts.
Again, if you have an Epic Pass, then you have unlimited days also up for grabs. Northstar is perfect for those that want to experience a laid-back kind of luxury, including Lake Tahoe’s only five-star, ski-in, ski-out lodging.
Beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders will be in their element on the tree-lined groomers and although the mountain isn’t necessarily steep, you’ll still have 97 runs to explore over 3170 acres. When you’re tired, take a break to wander through the fancy shops to be found, or spin a few laps around the picture-perfect ice skating rink.
Worth the day trip
Just a 50-minute drive from Heavenly, Kirkwood is worth dropping into, especially for those on the Epic Pass. 2300 acres of terrain may tempt you here, but the real drawcard is the powder served up in an old-school-style resort with steep terrain, where skiing takes pride of place. It helps that they experience a whopping 15 metres of snowfall every season.
Still got legs to burn? Then hit up Squaw Valley on the opposite side of the lake. This resort is known for finger chutes and steep drops and powder-a-plenty with 869m of vertical.
Just an hour from the stunning Lake Tahoe you'll come to Reno or "The Biggest Little City in the World" as its affectionately known. Before dropping off your car and hopping on a flight home to Australia, take the time to wander through Reno's famous downtown lined with casinos, tourist shops and rather surprisingly, or perhaps not given this city's outdoorsy culture, a whitewater kayak park. A few blocks south you'll find the up-and-coming Midtown district full of quirky, locally owned shops where you can buy anything from cowboy boots to your next Burning Man outfits.