Snowboarding in the Desert

When you think of Las Vegas, you think of bright lights, gambling, warm weather and... snowboarding? That's right, snowboarding! I just hit the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort at Mt. Charleston located less than 45 minutes from The Strip, and I'm here to tell you, it's a winter wonderland in the middle of the desert! (That's actually my wife's line. But I completely agree with her... as always.)

Let me share with you how this week went down: Tuesday night, Britney Spears decided to treat hubby Kevin Federline to a night out at his favorite place on Earth. (That would be Vegas.) Only "Extra" had the footage of the happy couple leaving dinner hand-in-hand at Tao at The Venetian and heading over to Pure Nightclub at Caesar's Palace for some wedded-bliss-partying.

So you'd think that there would be no way that we could get Mr. and Mrs. Spears on Wednesday's "Extra," and I would still have time to hit the slopes. (Well, that's what I thought, at least.) Guess what. I was wrong. The Britney Exclusive made air Wednesday, and I still squeezed in about a dozen runs on the mountain.

It took us about 42 minutes to get from the Strip to the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort at Mt. Charleston. The resort's slogan is "Real Snow, Real Close." And they ain't lyin'! Keeping tabs on the outdoor temperature gauge in my SUV, we went from 72 degrees to 29 degrees in about 20 minutes as we headed up the mountain.

"I'm a snow bum in the desert," boasts Craig Baldwin, Operations Manager for Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort. "We have the best weather in the world up here. It's sunny and snowy!"

Craig has good reason to love his job. I have snowboarded all over the world, from Lake Tahoe to Aspen to Switzerland, and I have never had the surreal experience of standing on the top of a snow-covered mountain while staring down at a desert valley below.

"We get over 120 inches of snow per season, and we're skiing and riding snowboards more than 100 days a year up here," says Baldwin. "It's just a whole different world than you get down in the big city of Las Vegas."

About 90 percent of the clientele on the Vegas slopes are snowboarders vs. skiers from my vantage point on the lifts. You can take a look at everything that the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort has to offer by going to

Wednesday night, I stayed in a real-life log cabin at the Mt. Charleston Lodge, nestled at the top of the mountain. Each cabin has a great view of the snow-covered surroundings and comes complete with enough comforts to make it tough to classify the experience as "roughing it." (When you can relax in the hot tub in your room, "Daniel Boone" doesn't exactly come to mind.) The only minus for me (and it might be a plus for you) is that there is no live TV in the rooms, just a TV, a DVD player and a VCR (remember those!) That meant I had to wait until Thursday to find out that Kevin Covais got the gate on Idol.

Each cabin can accommodate anywhere from one to six people, and they run a very reasonable $135 to $210 per night. The dinner and breakfast that we enjoyed at the Mt. Charleston Lodge's restaurant had a home-cooked flavor, and the service was on a comfortable, first name basis.

Thursday, it was back to the slopes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and I got back to my Vegas home by 2 p.m. with a healthy sun tan. I'll let you digest that last sentence. You can snowboard... in Vegas... all day... and be back in your hotel room on The Strip with a nice tan in time for a full afternoon nap so you can hit all the nightclubs that night.

Them: "Where'd you get that kickin' tan?"

You: "What, this? Oh, I was just rippin' it up on the Vegas slopes all day."

Flirting ensues.

Only in Vegas, baby!