La Nina drops by Sin City

If what went on in Vegas in the last 36 hours is any indication of what the pending ski season holds, we better buckle up. Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, which was recently granted a permit for a substantial expansion by the Forest Service, was expecting around 6” of snow as part of a rather typical southwestern winter system. Well, turns out that wasn’t real accurate. By the middle of the day Thursday, the mountain was closing in on 16” and the white out was showing no signs of relinquishing its grip on the Spring Mountains. Expectations are that the resort may see up to 32” by Friday morning.

Not bad for a desert.

Red, rock and Zion

Zion Canyon in the fall

Red, yellow and green

When my wife and I were contemplating our move to Las Vegas, Zion National Park, 150 minutes away from the infamous valley of neon, was one of the first “pluses” we scribbled on our refrigerator magnet to-do pad. We’ve been there twice before and its beige and scarlet monoliths and tightly-wound wooded canyons remained entwined in our minds as everything a national park should be. It became our precedent for all things natural, a searing hardscape of navajo sandstone, juniper, pinyon and cottonwood that people in the Southwest pay tens of thousands of dollars to have emulated in their backyards. And not one man-made instance of such effort comes even remotely close to the spirit of what transpires when the Great Basin Desert, Colorado Plateau and Mojave Desert collide in the southwest corner of Utah.

A number of months after our list of reasons to relocate had been acted upon and ripped from its glue seam like last week’s grocery run, we cruised off to Zion for the weekend. From a Friday morning to a Saturday afternoon, we hiked close to ten miles in the valley and along the high eastern rim, emptied a bottle of wine on the lodge lawn, watched a tarantula free solo a boulder, patronized four different Springdale eateries (all of which rocked), picked our own apples and drove home into a Nevada sunset that cooled the stark desert behind a filter of bruising cerulean and indigo.

A short, but long-lived trip. And the first of many.

Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort gets Forest Service approval to expand

Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort proposed mountain map

It's so money.

Right now, it’s small. But just wait.

Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort today announced it gained approval from the Forest Service under its use permit for a proposal to expand into neighboring territory.

Few realize that Las Vegas has such a ski resort. And sure, that’s because it’s a bit small. (So was Vail once.) Plus, getting the word out about winter terrain in the desert heat of a global gambling mecca is pretty damn difficult. Things are changing though. LVSSR is owned by Powdr. Corp., which also runs Park City Mountain Resort, Killington, Copper and a few others. In other words, this move isn’t a chancy dice roll taken by some renegade investor who wants to have a ski resort. This is a tested, proven ski destination operator that sees a snowbowl full of potential for the forested, Spring Mountains-based resort, which sits at over 10,000 feet.