Winter in Nevada: Where to Warm Your Spirits
Nevada always offers a warm welcome—but especially in the wintertime. From dipping into majestic hot springs to sipping hot Basque soup, Nevada knows how to kick that ol’ Jack Frost guy to the curb like nowhere else.
If you’re looking for wintertime destinations that are sure to warm your spirits, let this list of tried-and-true Silver State experiences spark up an adventure you’ll never forget. In other words, when it comes to places to chill, we’ve got you more than covered.
Get stoked on the hottest places to chill out this winter.
Historic Hot Spring Resorts
Reno, Carson City, Carson Valley
“I now leave without crutch or cane, entirely well, not only relieved from pain but gained in spirit.” – Mark Twain
If you’ve ever dipped into any of northern Nevada’s hot spring resorts, you know what blissful sanctuaries they are. If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to soak in these soothing, mineral-rich waters—along with plenty of history, too.
Follow in Mark Twain’s wet footprints at David Walley’s Resort in Genoa, which also houses a schmancy restaurant, amply stocked bar, and luxurious overnight accommodations. In nearby Carson City, capitalize on 1880-established Carson Hot Springs’ steamy outdoor pools and private tub rooms. And in Reno, Steamboat Hot Springs Healing Center & Spa—built in 1857—offers dreamy private tubs, steam baths, and a whole menu of massage therapy services.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
REOPENING IN 2022! Nevada is home to a town named Caliente (that means “hot” en Español) and the Caliente Hot Springs Motel proves why. With four private soak rooms and six rooms with spacious hot spring-fed bathtubs, it’s the perfect place to end a day of exploring several nearby state parks, ripping legendary mountain bike trails, and road-tripping the Great Basin Highway.
Put Some Pep in Your Step
Alright, you got us; we have a thing for hot water—especially in winter, and especially when it’s heated by Mother Earth. But the gorgeous, geothermally warmed swimming pools and spa tubs (many of which are open year-round) aren’t the only reasons we love this classic, Tuscany-themed Reno resort.
Founded as a funky little 1970s coffee shop, the Peppermill has blossomed into a three-tower, full-on, AAA Four Diamond-rated Reno casino-resort—complete with way-less-pricey-than-you’d-think 390-square-foot hot tub suites (and about 1,600 other rooms and suites). All of which are a plush-robed stroll from the three-story, 33,000-square-foot luxury Spa Toscana complex, offering all manner of treatments, men’s and women’s hangout spaces, and the palatial co-ed “Caldarium” room.
Meanwhile, the hottest place to get your vintage vibes on is hands-down the Fireside Lounge. Settle into crushed velvet booths around your own private (indoor) fire pit, groove to the in-seat R&B music videos, enjoy the free apps, and try not to burn your eyebrows off as you and your beau and/or buds slurp down a signature, multi-straw 64-oz Scorpion cocktail.
A Mountain Lodge… Near Las Vegas?
North Las Vegas
Although you might not guess it while belly-flopping onto the bed the second you waltz into your Vegas hotel room, you’re actually only about 45 minutes away from a wintertime paradise that’s nearly 7,000 feet higher in elevation than your resort.
Although this winter warm-up requires you to go somewhere to get colder first—via skiing, riding, or tubing at 445-acre Lee Canyon, or snowshoeing among the world’s oldest trees in the surrounding Spring Mountains—set yourself up to unwind at the Retreat on Charleston Peak, where gourmet cuisine, exquisite drinks, and rooms with unbelievable views of snow-blanketed canyons and 11,000-foot peaks await.
Or roll up the road to the Mt Charleston Lodge, where classic wooden cabins sit perched on a mountain slope, offering sweeping vistas from their balconies and steamy ambiance in massive in-cabin hot tubs. Although the main lodge was unfortunately lost to a fire in 2021, the cabins still deliver those classic, cozy mountain vibes.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Basque Joints: Warm Culture, Hot Food, Full Hearts (and Bellies)
Even on one of Nevada’s famously sunny, bluebird-skied winter days, nighttime can get cold. Luckily, if you’re up north, you’re never far from an authentic Basque dinner house, where old-school hospitality, hearty meals, and stiff cocktails crank everything up a notch. Originally a cultural bastion for immigrants from the French/Spanish borderlands, Nevada’s Basque restaurants—like Winnemucca’s Martin Hotel, Elko’s Star Hotel, and Gardnerville’s J.T. Basque Bar & Dining Room—no longer provide room for weary sheepherders, but they do still offer plenty of board to anyone hungry for a taste of one of our most vibrant cultural influences—one course at a time.
Although we no longer recommend spending an entire season caring for livestock on a lonely mountainside, after a day of exploring ghost towns or tackling backcountry trails on snowshoes, skis, or snowmobiles, there’s nothing quite like the first spoonful of hot, garlic-heavy, onion-infused Basque soup to kick off an evening. Follow it up with braised lamb shanks, T-bone steaks, or spicy chorizo—accompanied by salad, beans, french fries, and table wine—at a long table full of soon-to-be-former strangers, and find out what “family-style” really means out here. Even if you didn’t know anyone before you sat down, a couple of Picon Punches in (Nevada’s unofficial state cocktail), you may wind up friends for life.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Hot Ticket: Nevada’s Must-Experience Winter Events
Fire & Ice Winter Festival – Ely
Each January, the town of Ely becomes both the hottest and coolest place to be, during the raucous Fire & Ice Winter Festival. Cruise there via the Great Basin Highway or along the Loneliest Road in America and come ready for ice sculpting, axe throwing, Burning Man-style art sculpture bonfires, the world’s only fireworks show that gets launched from the back of a moving 1900s-era steam train, hot bands, and plenty of warm spirits—both in your heart and in your mug.
Chinese New Year in the Desert – Las Vegas
In 2011, the organization behind this huge, city-wide event sought to create the world’s largest Chinese New Year celebration—and they succeeded. Every February, dozens of resorts along the Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas go all-out, offering delicious feasts, a massive parade with gorgeous floats, martial arts demonstrations, folk music, acrobatics demos, and, of course, plenty of traditional dragon dancing.
Death Valley Dark Sky Festival
There aren’t a lot of International Dark Skies-certified parks on this planet, but the Lower 48’s largest national park is one of them. To show off why, each February—when the hottest, driest, lowest place on the continent is a little balmier—park rangers become “dark sky rangers” to curate astronomy lectures, astro-photography workshops, and family-friendly star parties to celebrate the kind of night skies you can’t see anywhere but here.
2022 UTV Legends Championship – Laughlin
The competition heats up for this Colorado River resort town’s annual “Race of Champions.” Riders hop on motorcycles, quads, and UTVs to tackle an infamous 17-mile loop through the rugged desert outside Laughlin. Post up at checkpoints along the way to cheer on the racers, or just find the party at the various hangouts along the Riverwalk after the vehicles have been trailered. Either way, good times are to be had in Nevada’s warmest town.
Nevada is easily the nation’s most diverse wintertime destination. Looking for other extraordinary adventures? Start with this roundup of winter activities and après-everything options.