winter activities in southern nevada lake mead

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort

Winter State-Cation: Warm Weather Escapes in Southern Nevada

Winter’s icy temps are welcomed by those who dream of bluebird powder days and snowshoe hikes through Nevada’s backcountry. There are, however, a number of people who long for the warmth of the sun and dream of tropical locales. That wish can fade when faced with the cost of an island getaway but take heart: southern Nevada offers a solution.

Follow the birds south for the winter and enjoy Nevada’s warmer climes.

In November, Las Vegas and the surrounding area averages 70 degrees; from December to February, temperatures dip into the 60s, but rarely below. While this isn’t south-of-the-equator balmy, it’s a long way from shoveling your driveway.

So, what’s your winter getaway pleasure? Hitting the links, perfecting your cannonball, or getting off road (two feet or two wheels…the choice is yours)? Mix and match, add a picnic, bring the kids or not: this is your adventure. Ditch the sweaters and mittens and get ready for a warm winter wonderland.

Greener Pastures

Grab your plaid shorts and get ready to experience your best game yet. With driving ranges right off The Strip and lush fairways set against striking Mojave Desert landscapes, some of the best greens in the Silver State are found in southern Nevada.

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort offers three amazing courses. Its Snow Mountain Course has seriously challenging holes at No. 16, 17, and 18. Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson offers a Rees Jones-designed course in the foothills of the Black Mountain Range, as well as the Butch Harmon School of Golf.

Head 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas to Mesquite—Nevada’s golfing mecca. There are nine golf courses within about 10 minutes of the area’s resorts and hotels, and the mellow desert climate makes it a year-round destination. Among the courses are the Wolf Creek Golf Club, where the fairways wind through red rock canyons and white sand bunkers and Conestoga Golf Club, which boasts a scenic 18-hole Gary Panks-designed course.   

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

Looking for even more places to swing the clubs in southern Nevada? Head for Boulder City, Laughlin, and Pahrump, too.

Dip a Toe

Depending upon where you hail from, jumping into Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, or Lake Las Vegas in the winter might sound heavenly. For everyone else, one of the many resort swimming pools on The Strip or in Downtown should serve. Quite a few hotels keep at least one pool open in the winter months, and most are heated to around 80 degrees. While certain locations are for guests only, many allow non-guests to visit for a fee. A few of the best winter splash sites include Circa Resort & Casino’s Stadium Swim. This 21+ only rooftop pool in Downtown Las Vegas is open all year and has a 40-foot-tall screen devoted to sports viewing. MGM Resort’s 12 pools (Bellagio, Vdara, Aria, etc.) all allow non-guests and are open year-round. No matter who’s in your group, there’s a pool for you. In Summerlin, Red Rock Casino is perfectly located for a swim after hiking at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Between dips, treat yourself to a little poolside gaming.

Shorelines for Days

Cooler air and water temps might not make swimming top of the list at Nevada’s southern lakes, but don’t rule out a visit to Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, or Lake Las Vegas. At Lake Las Vegas Water Sports, boat rentals continue through the winter months, and Lake Mead and Lake Mohave are open 24 hours a day for all your recreation desires.

bootleg canyon mountain bike park in boulder city nevada
Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park
Rachel Pasche

Did Someone Say Perfect?

There is no better time of year for hikers and mountain bikers to visit southern Nevada. In the summer, high temperatures can make strenuous outdoor activities seriously unpleasant, if not downright dangerous. But winter’s warm and mild highs make desert trails absolutely spectacular. There is no shortage of recommendations, but here are some favorites.

Boulder City has mountain biking options galore. Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park offers 36 miles of beginner-friendly and expert-level trails. From gentle cross-country rides to a downhill with a 22 percent grade, if you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist. There’s bike rentals and a shuttle option, too.

The Cottonwood Valley trail system is situated in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The Late Night Trailhead is a great starting point for at least 12 connecting trails in this system, so the choice of descent is yours. From gentle, consistent climbs to seriously fun swoopy sections, these hills have it all. Ride along the famed red sandstone hills and look for the famous rubber duck tree.

There’s more where that came from. Discover even more things to do on your next Silver State adventure.