Does it snow in Nevada? We asked ourselves this question when planning our last family holiday. We had always wanted to go to Nevada and had time off during the winter season.
At the same time, though, we also wanted to experience some snow and winter weather. Since Nevada is known for its desert areas, we wondered whether it would have what we were looking for.
We definitely wanted to fit in some of the gambling that Reno and Las Vegas are known for. But we also wanted to do some winter wonderland frolicking and maybe even skiing this time of year. Could we find what we were looking for in Nevada, a state that isn’t known for it?
Does it snow in Nevada? The answer surprised us and may surprise you too! The following article covers the answer and the best things to do in Nevada in the winter.
Does It Snow in Nevada?
You might think the “Does it snow in Nevada?” answer would be a resounding “no”. After all, Nevada is located in the United States’ driest area. In fact, most of the state is a desert or semi-desert.
But one thing you’ll discover when you visit Nevada is that it’s a place full of many surprises. And one of the biggest may be that yes, it does actually snow in Nevada! Compared to many other states, it doesn’t get a lot. But it does happen, at least in certain areas of Nevada.
When we think of Nevada, we may think of desert, cacti, and gambling. But there are actually some parts of the state where we can add skiing to that list as well! And there are others where just seeing snow build up on the ground is a regular occurrence.
When Does It Snow in Nevada?
Given that Nevada is largely a desert, it does need to be quite cold to get snow in Nevada. That means that in Nevada it generally only snows during the height of the winter months.
Whereas some other states have winters that stretch from late October to as late as April, Nevada’s is relatively brief. The coldest, most wintry months in Nevada are December through February.
And the chances increase in the middle of into winter, so mid-to-late January is your likeliest bet. That also isn’t to say that there aren’t some odd years where it might snow very early or very late. It has snowed as early as October and as late as April there before. It’s just very rare.
Now, in a lot of Nevada, cold and wintry is relative. You’re not generally going to get classic Winter Wonderland weather in most of the state as it’s so dry. But the places that do sometimes get snow, these are the months you’re most likely to see it.
As previously mentioned, in the entirety of the United States, there is no drier state than Nevada overall. Much of the state is made up of arid and semi-arid regions. This means that much of it is severely low on naturally occurring water.
During the summer, Nevada gets extremely and uncomfortably hot. It can reach as hot as 125F (or 52C). Dry thunderstorms are common then.
At the same time, it can get very cold in the winter. The record low was -50F (-46C), but that’s an extreme example. Also, that’s for the entire state, meaning the non-desert areas.
These extremes in climate are why many people prefer to visit Nevada in the spring and autumn.
Here is the month-by-month breakdown:
Generally the first month in any year that you’re likely to see any snow in Nevada is December. It ties January for the state’s coldest annual month. Statewide, the average temperature is a low of 23.4F (-4.8C) and a high of 37.6F (3.1C).
Places where it does snow can get 7.13 inches and can experience around 9 days of snow this month.
January is generally tied with December for Nevada’s coldest annual month. But it can be slightly warmer. The lows are usually around 24F (-4.2C) and the highs 39.7F (3.1C). Places where it does snow can get 5.43 inches and can experience around 7 days of snow this month.
February is still winter in Nevada but the temperatures are definitely starting to climb. Lows are around 25.7F (-3.5C) and highs get to 40.8F (4.9C). Interestingly, however, certain parts of the state can get more snowfall depending on the year. It can get to 7.56 inches and 8 days of snow.
Where Does It Snow in Nevada?
Now that we’ve covered the fact that it can and does snow in Nevada, next comes the big question: where?
Although, as we’ve said before, most of Nevada is made up of desert, this isn’t true everywhere. The state’s northwest has several mountain ranges, including the famous Sierra Nevada, which experience a significant amount of snowfall annually!
The mountain ranges form what is known as a rain shadow. This essentially means that the mountains force moisture produced by the Pacific Ocean to rise and cool. This equals a great deal of precipitation, which, it being colder in the higher altitudes, becomes snow.
The Sierra Nevada mountain range, therefore, gets snowfall averaging at several inches annually.
And there are a number of places nearby the mountains that also get snow. For example, it regularly snows in Lake Tahoe, and it sticks, it being one of the state’s few wet areas.
Furthermore, the mountains that surround Lake Tahoe actually trap the moisture inside. This means it effectively has a microclimate that equals it being one of the States’ snowiest areas. They get several feet of snow annually.
Another interesting area to get a lot of snow is the Great Basin National Park. It’s actually located in one of Nevada’s arid areas. Despite this, however, it tends to pick up snow from storms moving away from other areas of the United States.
Does It Snow in Reno, Nevada?
People who have only heard of Reno, Nevada, may be surprised to learn it does regularly snow there! They may hear “Nevada” and think “desert”, but Reno is actually located within Sierra Nevada. This means that they regularly get snowfall every year.
In fact, on average, Reno will get in the vicinity of twenty inches a year. And on some random years, it has been even more extreme. There have been some rare times the snowfall has exceeded fifty!
Overall, this might be relatively tame compared to some of the other states in the country. It can, however, be enough to cause disruptions, such as snow days, and dangerous roads. Water pipes and some plants can also be in danger of freezing.
With that said, however, it also means that there’s lots of opportunities to have fun in the winter weather. There are numerous nearby ski resorts for winter fun, skiing, and snowboarding! We’ll discuss a bunch of them in detail later on in the article.
Does It Snow in Las Vegas, Nevada?
The answer to this one might surprise people even more than Reno. The answer is that it doesn’t always, but yes, it can! Unlike Reno, Las Vegas is located right in the middle of a desert, namely the Mojave. This makes snow a much rarer occasion.
However, if the conditions are just right, it is possible! Generally, a cold front has to be moving through Las Vegas at the time, which doesn’t happen every year. When it does, however, it brings moisture over with it from the Pacific.
This moisture and cold then collides with the desert’s warm air, which creates ideal snow conditions. So we wouldn’t necessarily recommend you come to Las Vegas seeking out snow. But if it does happen to snow while you are here, it can be pretty magical.
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Does It Snow in Laughlin, Nevada?
The answer to whether it snows in Laughlin is closer to what you might expect for the state. It’s a solid no. It’s actually located on the Colorado River, so it isn’t one of the desert areas of Nevada. It is, however, one of the hottest areas not only of Nevada but the entire country!
Laughlin is considered one of the United States’ hottest cities. In the summer, it regularly reaches heights of 110F (43.3C)! Given it’s a wetter area and it does get hot, it actually gets a surprising amount of rainfall for Nevada. When it comes to rain, you can expect 38 inches annually! Snow, however, is 0.
Does It Snow in Mesquite, Nevada?
When it comes to Mesquite, this is another place where the answer is probably what you’re expecting. Because, no, it basically never snows in Mesquite, Nevada. The average snowfall there is 0 inches per year. This makes sense, though, as it’s located squarely in the desert near the Arizona border.
With that said, Mesquite does get some rain. Annually, they get an average of 7 inches. Given the average for the United States on the whole is 38 per year, however, that is really very little!
Does It Snow in Pahrump, Nevada?
Pahrump, Nevada is yet another one of those Nevada places that gets no snowfall per year. It also gets a shockingly low amount of rain, at an average of only 5 inches annually. But being located right smack dab in the Mojave Desert, this shouldn’t be surprising!
Does It Snow in Carson City, Nevada?
Funnily enough, Nevada’s capital city, Carson City, isn’t located in the desert but in the mountains. Naturally, this means that they actually do receive a great deal of snow each year.
In the winter, Carson City’s temperatures range from lows of 19F (-7C) to highs of 47F (8C). Meanwhile, as far as snow, they get 22 inches a year, which for Nevada is genuinely jawdropping! But with an elevation of 4802 feet, this also does make sense!
Nevada Ski Resorts
As we previously mentioned, there are numerous resorts in Nevada for you to get your ski on. The following are some of our favorites for having a winter adventure in this unusual location!
Ruby Mountain Heli-Ski
What makes Ruby Mountain Heli-Ski such an inviting place for skiing or snowboarding is it welcomes people at all levels. This resort has so many trails to choose from at all different difficulty levels. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned skier, you will find something for you. They offer rentals and even lessons.
This resort is also located right near the Ruby Mountains, which provide absolutely breathtaking views. They make this area a genuine Winter Wonderland unlike most of the state of Nevada.
Elko Snobowl is another great ski resort of visit for all skill levels. For those people who are new to skiing or snowboarding, they have rentals and lessons. They also have all sorts of different trails, from beginner to extreme. Anyone who wants to ski or snowboard is encouraged!
What also makes this place very attractive is how convenient it is to get to. Unlike some places located in the Nevada mountain ranges, it’s only a few minutes from an airport. Namely, Elko Municipal Airport.
Lee Canyon Ski Resort
As with the previous two ski resorts on our list, Lee Canyon conveniently has trails for all skill levels. And as with the others, they offer ski and snowboard rentals and lessons to people new to it.
Getting here is also very convenient. In this case, it happens to be a mountain that’s extremely close to the famous Las Vegas Strip! So you could genuinely go gambling and skiing on the same vacation! This could be great for appealing to multiple people in your family.
Diamond Peak Ski Resort
Unlike the previous ski resorts on our list, Diamond Peak is really focused on the more experienced skiers. No way around it, it’s much too challenging for a newcomer. It’s known for its stunning and difficult black diamond trails, and for its unusual terrain park. If you’re an expert skier, do not miss it!
This is also a great place for breathtaking views, which are particularly gorgeous in the winter. See Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe in all of their snow-covered glory!
On the flipside, if you’re a beginner or intermediate skier, Alpine Meadows is the place for you. With no extremely challenging trails, it’s a great place to learn and/or build your confidence!
It’s also even better for soaking up some of the most gorgeous winter atmosphere in all of Nevada! You’ll get beautiful Winter Wonderland views of the Sierra Nevada range. And you can also enjoy the nearby Truckee, a charming town that’s particularly enchanting this time of year.
Mt Rose Ski Resort
Returning to a resort that’s good for all levels of skill, Mount Rose is a great place for the whole family. They have a wide variety of different trails at all difficulty levels. They have rentals and lessons for those who need it, as well as the gorgeous snowy views you’d expect.
It’s also another one that’s convenient to get to, being located extremely close to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Whether you’re arriving domestically or from another country, you can get to skiing ASAP!
Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort
If you thought Diamond Peak Ski Resort was challenging, just get a load of Palisades Tahoe! As with that one, don’t even bother coming here if you’re not an expert. Palisades Tahoe has the most black diamond trails of any ski resort in the North American continent.
Furthermore, Palisades Tahoe is actually where the Olympic Training Center is located. The trails are impeccably well maintained due to this, making it a beautiful place to enjoy the winter weather and adventure!
Heavenly Ski Resort
Heavenly Ski Resort has made numerous lists as one of America’s most well-loved ski resorts! Located on the border of California and Nevada, it has absolutely breathtaking Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe views. As you can imagine, this is even doubly so in the winter when it’s all covered in snow.
Whether you’re new to skiing or a pro, you’ll find a trail that’s right for you at Heavenly Ski Resort. There are lovely places to stay in the nearby picturesque Lakeland Village Resort, another genuine Winter Wonderland experience.
Lastly, we have Incline Village, which is best known for providing stunning Lake Tahoe views. It’s one of the most glorious places to be in a Nevada winter. Incline Village has trails for all levels of skiing and snowboarding skill. And as with many of the others, lessons are available to those who need it.
Whether you’ve been skiing for years or it’s your first time, it’s a great place for the whole family to experience the wonder of a Nevada winter!
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So, there you have it! As surprising as it seems, it absolutely does snow in Nevada. And not only that, but there are actually some great places to enjoy winter fun in this seemingly desert state! So if you’re looking for a more unusual snowy destination, book your trip today!