The desert of the Southwest rarely experiences the beauty of snow, otherwise known as “the white stuff that falls from the sky” in the Midwest and East Coast. Although we have cold weather and the occasional dip into freezing temperatures, it is still often accompanied by blue skies and sunshine! Both the Phoenix and Las Vegas areas have plenty to offer, so don’t fret – you won’t be stuck inside next to the fireplace all winter long!
Arizona’s Desert Winter Wonderland
For our Arizona desert drummer boys and girls, the holiday season would never be complete without a visit to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Their annual Christmas at the Princess festival runs from right now until December 31st and includes chances to make holiday memories with a meet and greet with the one and only Santa Claus and his holiday friends, a one-of-a-kind light show on their four-story Christmas tree, marshmallow roasting and s’mores, and rides on the Princess Express Train around the decorated resort lagoons. Whether you are a guest of the hotel or not, all are welcome to join the holiday events that may soon become holiday traditions.
Phoenix itself hardly ever sees snowfall… so when it does, you bet we enjoy every last second of snowball fights and sledding! Since we’re more likely to experience a hurricane rather than snow (and no “Maria” does not count despite what some boisterous locals may claim), Phoenicians hold a few winter cards in their pocket. One of these is Arizona Snowbowl, located 2.5 hours north of Phoenix in Flagstaff. Tourists and locals alike can be found at this resort during winter months taking part in all the usual winter time activities. You’ll find skiing, snowboarding, and sledding in quieter parts of the grounds… and of course relaxing fireside at the lodge isn’t a bad choice either. Have a free day to see some amazing sights in other parts of Arizona? Tag along on one of our Grand Canyon South Rim tours, departing daily! See the incredible geological feature that is the Grand Canyon, which is mesmerizing and peaceful with a blanket of snow as the backdrop. Our Sedona Red Rocks tours should be temporarily called the Sedona While Rocks tour – when it snows up there, it’s almost like looking at an entirely new city. While out on tour with us, take some photos, do some shopping, and experience the scenic snow-covered landscape. Nature is calling!
Christmas in Las Vegas
And for our Las Vegas friends and family on the strip, there is an amazing art installation that changes with the seasons at the Atrium located inside of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. Once inside, it is almost like you have been transported into a winter wonderland making you feel as if you were in the middle of a snow globe, every collector’s dream! From December 2nd through January 6th, you can come and enjoy the feeling of the holiday spirit with enough Christmas trees and snow to make you forget that you are in the middle of the Nevada desert. A few minutes off the strip is a local chocolate shop named Ethel M’s. There you can enjoy fresh hot chocolate, try delicious chocolate samples, all while looking at beautiful Christmas lights that adorn their cactus garden.
Now if you were to ask us about snow in Las Vegas, well, it’s quite seldom. However, just outside the hustle and bustle of the city are some hidden winter gems. One of the more popular places locals flock to during the winter months is Mount Charleston. You can find everything from hiking, skiing, and two cozy lodges with delicious hot chocolate. Since it’s only a 45 minute drive out of the city, it makes for a fabulous day trip where you can forget you’re in the desert! Maybe you’re feeling jealous of your east coast friends and their frozen ponds for skating? Well, Vegas has a way to one up them! At the top of the Cosmopolitan, Boulevard Pool transforms into an ice rink each winter, complete with snow fall every 30 minutes. “But I want the real thing”, you say? Faux snow and extravagant ice skating isn’t your cup of hot cocoa? If you want to see snow in person while also experiencing a truly unique western destination, hop on one of our full day Bryce Canyon tours. Departing on Tuesdays and Saturdays throughout the year, our Bryce Canyon tour is a full day trip that is sure to impress! With the world’s largest collection of hoodoos, the one-of-a-kind National Park is a marvel year round. When covered in snow, the amazing rock formations are even more spectacular and the “icing” on top of your trip. If you’re feeling more adventurous and really want to brave the snow, join us on a customized hiking tour of Bryce Canyon.
Even though snow and our desert cities aren’t too frequently said in the same sentence, or rather seen very often together, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have some secrets up our sleeves on where to find it! We think it makes those winter desert views that much more special. Simply put, it is one of the best ways to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year – and it involves going off the beaten path, braving the cold weather, tearing it up on the ice rink and most importantly, doing it all with those who you hold close. From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!