Friday, March 14, 2014

Four Seasons Are Just an Hour Away

For those who miss spring greenery, fall colors and winter’s icy chill, there are places you can visit, even places where you can ski, all within an hour of the nearest casino

by Ned Barnett

It’s been said with at least a little truth that Las Vegas has two seasons – Summer, and Thursday. In the nearly 25 years that I’ve lived here in Vegas, I’ve not seen snow even once, though some of the higher elevations in the valley have had snow, briefly, generally about once every five years. 

Perhaps I should point out here that while Las Vegas seems to be a rather flat valley surrounded on all sides by steep and rugged mountains, there is actually around 1,500 feet of altitude change between the low end of the valley to the East, and the high end of the valley to the Northwest. Those 1,500 feet difference generally mean a temperature variance of from 6 to 8 degrees, just enough to rule out snow where I live in the East, but ensure it every now and then at the high end of the valley.

However, it’s really only desert-summer-hot here in Vegas for five or six months of the year, generally from late April to mid October. The rest of the year is frequently very temperate, though we do often have a brief annual cold snap in December or January. Twice since I’ve lived here it’s been cold enough to wrap the pipes to keep them from bursting – that means twice in 25 years it’s gotten below 25 degrees on at least one night. 

But if you are from “back East,” and if you miss four honest-to-God seasons, the good
news is that those four seasons can be found just 50 miles away, on Mount Charleston which, at better than 12,000 feet, is the highest peak in Nevada. There, you can usually find snow from November through March. 

On the mountain’s Lee Canyon, there are even snow skiing runs, available for those who want to break their legs but who don’t want to drive North into Utah where Zion and Brice Canyon provide real leg-breaking skiing.

Back when my son was still living at home, we generally rode up to Mount Charleston once per winter to play in the snow for a half hour or so, just to get it out of our systems, before returning back to shirt-sleeve weather. We went there more often during the summer, where we could trade 110-degree summer heat for the bracing 80 degrees of the high mountain slopes. 

Mount Charleston isn’t the only place nearby where you can enjoy four seasons, on demand – Red Rock Canyon Park, just off Charleston Highway due West of downtown – has, at 5,000 feet altitude, a real change of seasons as well, along with some of the most incredible natural beauty you’re likely to find anywhere. So, for those who miss spring greenery, fall colors and winter’s icy chill, there are places you can visit, even places where you can ski, all within an hour of the nearest casino.

Barnett’s Insider’s Guide to Las Vegas
An ongoing blog about 
What Those Who Live in Las Vegas Do in Las Vegas

Coming to Live in Vegas
Four Seasons Are Just an Hour Away
Off-Strip Excitement
A Rootin’ Tootin’ Shoot-‘Em-Up Good Time