Las Vegas

The Best Ski Trips from Las Vegas

Yes, you can actually ski in the desert. Kinda.

Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort

Mention the words Las Vegas and images of casinos, Carrot Top, and the hot desert sun come to mind. The last thing you’ll probably think of is “ski trip”-but guess what? Sin City is within driving distance to some of the most intriguing slopes in the United States, including one that’s less than an hour away. So if you’re planning a road trip to get out of Vegas, a ski resort could be the best thing to lift your winter season out of the doldrums. Keep in mind, the following suggestions cover four different states, which won’t necessarily be following the same exact social distancing guidelines. So check in advance for the latest information on hours of operation and restrictions.

Photo courtesy of Lee Canyon
Photo courtesy of Lee Canyon
Photo courtesy of Lee Canyon

Lee Canyon 

Mt. Charleston, NV
Distance: 40 minutes by car from Las Vegas 
Formerly known as the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, Lee Canyon is less than an hour’s drive from Las Vegas with a base elevation of more than 8,500 feet on Mt. Charleson. The convenience makes it easy to hang out for the day and return home before sundown. It’s a small resort with just 27 trails accessible by chairlift with 250 acres of hike-to-terrain, although expansion plans are in the works. There’s plenty of room for snowboarding and tubing as well. The resort is family-friendly with free coaching offered to beginner and intermediate-level skiers (ages six and up). The new two-level Hillside Lodge was officially unveiled in January-you know, back before COVID became a thing-adding a modern touch to Lee Canyon with a heated terrace, patio areas, table service at the Bighorn Grill and Bristlecone, and grab-and-go coffee and bites from the Brewin Burro.
How to book: Check Hotels.com, Booking.com, or Airbnb for local lodging options.

Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Brian Head Resort

Brian Head

Brian Head, Utah
Distance: three-hour drive from Las Vegas 
Brian Head Resort has a peak elevation of 11,000 feet, making it the highest ski resort in Utah. You’ve got more than 70 runs on about 650 acres, but the views might be the best part. The surrounding desert’s red rock formations make for a unique skiing-on-Mars kinda feeling. The long green runs, knowledgeable instructors, and organized lift lines are especially appealing to beginners and casual skiers. The resort, which dates back to 1965, is a place families have visited for generations as the town of Brian Head grew slowly around it. Fill up on Thai from Sook Jai between your time on the slopes. 
How to book: Check Hotels.com, Booking.com, or Airbnb for local lodging options.

Big Bear Mountain Resort
Big Bear Mountain Resort
Big Bear Mountain Resort

Big Bear Mountain 

Big Bear Lake, California
Distance: three-and-a-half hours from Las Vegas
Snow Summit and Bear Mountain make up the Big Bear Mountain Resort in the San Bernardino mountains, and the short drive makes it the closest California ski resort to Vegas. Bear Mountain is one big terrain park. Snowboarders love the jumps and the only superpipe in Southern California. Snow Summit is more suited for downhill skiing. It’s popular for families, although it doesn’t have a lot of beginner runs. The mountaintop is big on BBQ joints, including Driftwood and Hog on the Rocks, which has fantastic views. Of course, the scenery of Big Bear Lake is a nice bonus.  
How to book: Check Hotels.com, Booking.com, or Airbnb for local lodging options.

Photo courtesy of Arizona Snowbowl
Photo courtesy of Arizona Snowbowl
Photo courtesy of Arizona Snowbowl

Snowbowl

Flagstaff, Arizona
Distance: four-hour drive from Las Vegas
Snowbowl is about a four-hour drive from Vegas and your best bet for serious skiing in Northern Arizona. The 777-acre terrain offers wide appeal for experienced skiers, although beginners and intermediates will also appreciate the ample dry powder. A fancy new gondola is being introduced this winter, cutting the time it takes to climb 2,000 feet from 14 minutes to seven-and the more time you save, the more you can enjoy the slopes. Four terrain parks allow beginners and experts alike to perfect their skills. 
How to book: Stay on property in a cabin or take your pick of hotels in Flagstaff. The area also happens to be a great base for planning a trip to the Grand Canyon

Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Eagle Point
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Eagle Point
Photo by Jay Dash Photography for Eagle Point

Eagle Point

Beaver, Utah
Distance: about three-and-a-half hours
Eagle Point is a little further away from Las Vegas than Brian Head, but drive the extra hour and you’ll be rewarded with smaller crowds, less expensive prices, and better terrain-including steeper runs. It doesn’t have the luxury elements and social scene of the ski resorts up north by Park City, but it has plenty of charm to balance out the “lost in the middle of nowhere” feel. A few condos and cabins have ski-in, ski-out accessibility, and you can grab some burgers, pizza, and wine at the Canyonside Lodge.  
How to book: Check Hotels.com, Booking.com, or Airbnb for local lodging options.

Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Lakes, California
Distance: five-hour drive from Las Vegas
You’re looking at a hefty drive from Sin City, but the payoff is one of the longest ski seasons in the country, sometimes stretching into June. And who doesn’t want to play in the snow when it’s 110 degrees in Vegas? The place is huge-with plenty of options for lodging and dining. Make a point to experience the German food and family-owned charm of Austria Hof, an old ski lodge converted into a restaurant. Skiers of all levels have plenty of options between 150 runs over 3,500 acres, not to mention at least a half-dozen terrain parks, snowmobile rides, tubing, and more. While in the area, pay a visit to Devil’s Postpile National Monument, where you can check out some trippy rock formations and the calming beauty of Rainbow Falls. 
How to book: Book a room, condo, cabin, or home directly via Mammoth Mountain’s lodging collection.

Heavenly Ski Resort
Heavenly Ski Resort
Heavenly Ski Resort

Heavenly

Lake Tahoe, California
Distance: approximately seven-and-a-half hour drive from Las Vegas
Out of all the resorts on the list, this one is the farthest from Las Vegas, but worth including since Lake Tahoe is such a popular getaway for Nevadans. With nearly 5,000 skiable acres, 3,500 vertical feet, and more than 10,000 feet in elevation, Heavenly is the largest and highest ski resort among the many that surround the alpine lake. A gondola lifts off from Heavenly Village in the heart of South Lake Tahoe, where it’s easy to explore shops and restaurants-or casinos, if you happen to wander over the Nevada state line. Between the lake and the endless pine trees, it’s hard to beat the views. Expect large crowds during the peak winter season. 
How to book: Search for local lodging on Heavenly’s website.

Sunrise Park Resort
Sunrise Park Resort
Sunrise Park Resort

Sunrise Park

Greer, Arizona
Distance: seven-hour drive from Las Vegas
Another remote destination, but if you want to get lost in the scenic White Mountains of Eastern Arizona, this is your spot. Sunrise Park is a lot more lowkey and casual than Snowbowl with 65 runs on three mountains, most of which are dedicated to green and blue options for beginner and intermediate skiers. It’s also easy to stay busy with sleigh rides, sledding, ice fishing, and zip lines. Night skiing is available on select nights. 
How to book: Book a night at the Sunrise Park Lodge. Otherwise, the nearest accommodations could be at least a half-hour drive away.

Photo by Scott Markewitz for Deer Valley
Photo by Scott Markewitz for Deer Valley
Photo by Scott Markewitz for Deer Valley

Deer Valley

Park City, Utah
Distance: six-and-a-half hour drive from Las Vegas
Deer Valley is all about luxury skiing-with close proximity to the charm of downtown Park City. It’s a skiers-only resort that doesn’t have much in the way of terrain parks (if that’s your scene, or if you prefer to snowboard, Park City Mountain Resort will be more up your alley). However, Deer Valley has incredibly manicured slopes and exceptional tree skiing. The place even hosted events at the 2002 Winter Olympics. There’s more than 100 runs on 2,000 acres with a peak elevation that exceeds 9,500 feet. Passes are limited to prevent overcrowding. The perks range from ski valets and a killer ski school to upscale shops and fine dining restaurants. 
How to book: Deer Valley has dozens of opportunities for lodging on property, including upscale hotels like the Montage and St. Regis.  

Mountain High
Mountain High
Mountain High

Mountain High

Wrightwood, California
Distance: three-and-a-half hour drive from Las Vegas
Mountain High isn’t as expansive and engaging as Big Bear Mountain, but it’s more convenient if you want to plan a ski getaway closer to Los Angeles. Beginners, intermediate, or advanced skiers have their own respective areas, which could make things more or less convenient, depending on your situation. Not much in the way of steep drops, but the night skiing is fun. It can get crowded on weekends with visitors pouring in from LA and the surrounding suburbs, but a lot of families will just be happy to ice skate, take the kids sledding at Yeti’s Snow Play, or warm up with drinks by the fireplace at the Bullwheel Bar and Grill. The chair rides offer nice views of the Mojave Desert.
How to book: Check Hotels.com, Booking.com, or Airbnb for local lodging options.

Photo by Marc Piscotty for Snowbird
Photo by Marc Piscotty for Snowbird
Photo by Marc Piscotty for Snowbird

Snowbird

Snowbird, Utah
Distance: six-hour drive from Las Vegas
Snowbird is between Salt Lake City and Park City, welcoming you with an expansive 2,500-acre resort with 3,200 feet of vertical terrain to challenge experienced skiers. Hop on a conveyor belt that actually passes through the 600-foot-long Peruvian Tunnel for a shortcut to reach the fine powder of Mineral Basin. The journey is a museum of sorts, dedicated to the mining history of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Snowbird is next to the less-crowded Alta, which has similar terrain, but is skiers-only and doesn’t have the same social scene. Ski both resorts with the same Altabird pass.
How to book: Explore local lodging options on Snowbird’s website.Sign up here for our daily Vegas email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than seven years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Trivago Magazine, Sophisticated Living, Modern Luxury, Leafly, Las Vegas Magazine, and other publications. You’ll find him with his boots off in the lodge. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.

Las Vegas

A Fresh Take on Italian Dining Opens in Southwest Las Vegas

A first look at Basilico Ristorante Italiano.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

You can’t be all things to all people. Yet a new Italian restaurant strikes an intriguing balance between authenticity and inventive touches while helping to shape the identity of a new community in the booming Southwest Valley of Las Vegas.

Basilico Ristorante Italiano is now open at Evora, a master-planned apartment development still under construction that won’t be finished for at least five years. The 160-seat restaurant follows the vision of chef Francesco Di Caudo, a Sicily native who draws on his heritage and experience throughout Italy to build a compelling menu based on traditional techniques and modern ingenuity.

“I come from a country where farm-to-table is nothing new,” says Di Caudio, while emphasizing the importance of ingredient sourcing and simple, straightforward flavor combinations.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

Just look at the appetizers. Americans are used to eggplant parmesan that’s breaded and fried without restraint. Di Caudo sticks to a traditional Sicilian recipe with the vegetable sliced thin, sizzled in a pan, and layered with tomato and basil. No mozzarella. On the other hand, the Smoked Cigar is destined to be a signature showstopper. Duck, foie gras, and porcini mushrooms are packed inside a thin, cracker-like shell, presented in a box, and dipped into a glass ashtray. The “ash” in the centre is a black sesame and truffle mix. Don’t be shy about double dipping.

The risotto is bound to be another conversation piece. The recipe uses Carnaroli rice, a starchy grain from North Italy that produces a creamy texture, balancing the saltiness of a parmesan broth with a sweet splash of chestnut honey. The real surprise is the inclusion of Lavazza espresso, manipulated to crackle in your mouth like Pop Rocks candy.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

All pastas are made in-house, from a parsnip cavatelli to a lamb and thyme tortellini in a broth filtered from braised prosciutto. Some dishes have a subtle Asian influence, including a hamachi crudo with pomelo (similar to yuzu), Hokkaido scallops with oxtail, and a planned octopus braised in dashi. The flavours come to life inside a sharp, contemporary dining room with deep red chairs and stone, wood, and marble touches. The wine collection is dominated by Italian labels, with a few California and Oregon picks thrown in to round out the list. Bottles are on display near the front entrance and inside illuminated square shelves. “It looks like a fancy restaurant, but when you sit down, I want you to have fun,” adds Di Caudio.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

The bar is the heart of the restaurant, ready to serve up to 16 people inside and dozens more via accordion-style windows that open wide to a covered patio. The outdoor space, temperature-controlled with overhead fans and heaters, effectively extends Evora’s open-air plaza with dramatic water and fire features. It’s a natural spot for tastings and special events with a covered stage for live music. Evora is rolling out in four phases, with the first 342 apartments ready by fall. There could be as many as 1,400 when it’s all said and done. Rent begins at around $1,800 for studios and one-bedroom units and goes up to $4,000 for two-story top-floor residences with a loft and Strip views. The community will include swimming pools, pickleball courts, a putting green, a dog park, firepits, EV charging stations, and pavilions equipped with audio and video features.

“Basilico matches the demographic for our apartments,” says Danny Sorge of Digital Desert Development, the company behind the community. “The term ‘youthful sophistication’ has been thrown around about the restaurant and Evora as a whole. It brings something new to the area.”

Rendering courtesy of Evora
Rendering courtesy of Evora
Rendering courtesy of Evora

The development follows a deliberate strategy to have the commercial tenants in place before the first residents move in, occupying a stand-alone building that strikes a commanding presence on the corner of Patrick Lane and Buffalo Drive. Lemon Tree Cafe & Market is already open as a European-style grocery store with plenty of room to sit down with a sandwich and glass of wine. Keep your eyes peeled for Taps & Barrels (a self-service beer hall), Tachi Ramen, and EVOQ hair salon in the months ahead, with more businesses to come. The timing couldn’t be better. The Southwest Valley is on fire right now, with the Durango hotel and casino and UnCommons mixed-use development taking shape as new attractions in 2023. The Bend, a long-promised shopping and dining district, has been in a holding pattern for years but holds promise in an area where everything is getting bigger and better.

Meanwhile, the team behind Evora is staking a claim with Di Caudio running the kitchen at Basilico. The chef’s recent collaboration with Chef Oscar Amador helped Anima by EDO score a recent James Beard Award nomination and reputation as one of the best new restaurants in Las Vegas. Di Caudio first came to Las Vegas to work at Zeffirino at the Grand Canal Shoppes-a gig he expected to last about six months before returning home. Instead, he stuck around and continued to build his reputation at culinary destinations like Sinatra at the Wynn and Ferraro’s off the Strip.

Ultimately, Basilico will be a restaurant to keep an eye on as it develops under Di Caudio’s guidance. The menu will shift and evolve based on the chef’s preferences and the availability of seasonal ingredients. Di Caudio is also planning a smaller menu and social hour for the bar area and a reasonably priced tasting menu with around 10 dishes served family style.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Rob Kachelriess¬†has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than nine years. In addition, his work has appeared in¬†Travel + Leisure, Leafly, Supercall, Modern Luxury, and¬†Luxury Estates International’s seasonal publication. Follow him on Twitter¬†@rkachelriess.

Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.