Snow season is here: 5 winter activities to try (for newbies/amateurs)

In Northern Nevada, there are snowy hills and open spaces along the 22-mile Mount Rose Highway (NV-431) between Reno and Tahoe. Tubing and sledding are popular at Tahoe Meadows, 8 miles north of Incline Village. (Photo Frank Alejandre / The Nevadan)

By Aleza Freeman

December 12, 2023

The snowy season is here. In Nevada, this means different things. If you live in the north, it means it’s time to bundle up in all your heaviest winter wear. In the south, you might want to start wearing layers.

Either way, you’re likely itching for a laid-back day of winter fun for the whole family.

If you’re new to the snow or you lack in snow sports skills and you’re too scared to even hit the bunny slopes, no worries. There are lots of other easier ways to enjoy the season like the 5 winter activities below:

Ice Skating

Ice skating takes practice but its still a fun activity for people of all ages. While rinks are open in Nevada year-round, ice skating is especially magical in the winter.

In Reno, the Ice Rink at Grand Sierra Resort is an outdoor winter wonderland where families can glide, twirl and jump during hour-long skating sessions daily. Holiday snacks and drinks like s’mores and hot cocoa are available for purchase. The kid-friendly Arlington Square Ice Rink in downtown Carson City is open afternoons and evenings through late January, offering limited concessions and a heated seating area.

For a natural ice rink, check out the boat launch area of the 32-acre reservoir at Cave Lake State Park, 15 miles southeast of Ely. For only the cost of park admission, it’s a popular spot for ice skating in the winter, though you’ll have to bring your own skates.

In Southern Nevada, the 4,200 square-foot ice rink at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas pops up every winter in place of the Boulevard Pool. With snow showers every 30 minutes and a cozy chalet for snacks and drinks, it’s a festive place to skate through December amid the shining neon of the Las Vegas Strip. The Rock Rink in Downtown Summerlin has returned through January 15. Skate to holiday songs past a 40-foot Christmas tree on this 8,000-square-foot outdoor rink, made with real ice.

There is also ice skating offered on a scenic trail through the illuminated Enchant Las Vegas winter wonderland at the Las Vegas Ballpark.

Snowshoeing

Snowshoes are a practical way to walk across snow and a beginner-friendly accessory for a day of winter fun with the family. Still, amateurs are best to develop their snow legs with the help of an expert, such as on the guided snowshoe hikes, which take place after heavy snowfall at Mount Charleston in the Spring Mountain Recreation Area. Use of snowshoes and poles are included (for a fee).

You can snowshoe on your own in snowy areas throughout Nevada, such as a winter trail at Great Basin National Park, about 300 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The park loans out snowshoes in kid and adult sizes for free at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. The road looping through the park’s Upper Lehman Creek campground is considered an easy snowshoeing trail for beginners.

Snowshoeing is big in the Tahoe area, where companies like Tahoe Snowshoe Tours and Tahoe Adventure Company offer guided excursions. Yelper Jerry F. recommends Chickadee Ridge in Tahoe Meadows for easy snowshoeing and gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe. Snowshoeing is also popular on Mount Rose, like at Galena Creek along Mount Rose Highway (NV-431).

Snowplay

Whether it’s a day of tubing and sledding or an impromptu snowball fight, there’s fun to be had at picnic areas in both Kyle and Lee canyons on Mt. Charleston in Southern Nevada. On snowy weekends, it’s best to arrive by 9 am since the roads get rather busy and anyone without reservations at the Mount Charleston Lodge, Retreat on Charleston Peak and Lee Canyon Ski and Snow Resort will have to wait longer. To monitor the snow situation, check out the Lee Canyon Resort’s webcams or the Mount Charleston Weather webcam.

In Northern Nevada, there are snowy hills and open spaces along the 22-mile Mount Rose Highway (NV-431) between Reno and Tahoe. Tubing and sledding are popular at Tahoe Meadows, 8 miles north of Incline Village. Or head to the large parking lot at Mount Rose Summit for a small, child-friendly hill. Remember to bring your own saucers, tubes and toboggans!

Riding in style

Glide around in style this winter on a Santa-themed train or sleigh ride. But don’t delay as many of these spirited rides, such as the V&T Candy Cane Express in Virginia City, have already sold out for the season!

You can still take a trip to see Santa in the North Pole on Santa’s Reindeer Flyer Christmas Express Train in Ely. There will be plenty of photo-ops and Santa’s helpers will lead everyone in holiday carols. Pajamas are the encouraged attire.

V&T Railway’s Polar Express Train Ride in Carson City will also feature pajama-clad passengers, holiday carols and a visit from Santa as well as hot chocolate and holiday treats through December while Santa Trains will roll through the Northern Nevada Railway Museum in Boulder City. Wear your PJs or favorite holiday sweater!

Santa isn’t the only one with a sleigh these days though Nevada’s sleigh rides don’t have reindeer. Travel with spectacular views of the lake and through towering pines on a 40-minute, narrated horse-drawn sleigh ride, starting at Lake Tahoe’s Sand Harbor Visitor Center, then warm up with hot cocoa and treats. You can also take a horse-drawn-carriage ride at Tivoli Village in Las Vegas every Friday and Saturday until Christmas from 4 to 8 p.m..

If you’re a water enthusiast, set sail with Santa on a kid-friendly yacht cruise at Lake Las Vegas near Lake Mead. Games, cookies, hot chocolate and Santa are all included in this festive Christmas party on the water.

Staying inside

Experience winter without the weather at the interactive Illuminarium at Area 15 in Las Vegas. It transcends the traditional and transports you to the future as it transforms into a meticulously designed holiday multiverse with candy canes, nutcrackers, glittering Northern Lights and whirling snowstorms. You don’t even have to wear a coat.

The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden has decked its halls with the sights, sounds, scents and colors of Christmas through January 7, including four towering nutcracker drummers, a 30-foot mouse king and 40 freshly adorned holiday trees with over 125,000 lights. The Mystic Falls Park Winter Wonderland at Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall is another awe-inspiring indoor park winter attraction.

There are plenty of light shows in Southern Nevada you can enjoy from the comfort of your car like Glittering Lights at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and World of Illumination’s Rockin’ Christmas at M Resort.

Keeping with the winter spirit, world-class synchronized and freestyle figure skaters will dazzle Reno audiences with a holiday spectacular, Christmas on Ice at Eldorado Resort Casino through Dec. 30.

  • Aleza Freeman

    Aleza Freeman is a Las Vegas native and award-winning journalist with two decades of experience writing and editing lifestyle, travel, entertainment, and human interest stories in Nevada. Her work has appeared in AARP magazine, Haute Living and Nevada Magazine.

CATEGORIES: COMMUNITY | THINGS TO DO

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