Winter Snow Activities
We are in the middle of winter, holidays well behind us and spring but a tiny glimmer on the horizon. Time for some winter fun! Let’s go to the mountains, enjoy the snow and the scent of pine trees, a taste of hot chocolate, or a hot toddy!
There’s something magical about the Sierra in winter. While we love the skiing and snowboarding at Lake Tahoe, we know that not everyone’s a skier, and sometimes families just want to go up and have some fun in the snow. While many of the Tahoe ski resorts like Northstar, Palisades Tahoe, and Heavenly have tubing parks, ice skating, and other winter non-skiing activities for the family, there are plenty of other places in the mountains where you can get your snow play fix without the ski resort hustle and bustle (and price tag).
Anybody who’s taller than 36 inches can go snow-tubing—just plop down in a donut-shaped inner-tube, then barrel down a snowy hill. You’ll hit a few fun bumps and everyone will have a great time.
Most of these snow play sites are within a couple hours’ drive from Benicia. While some have tubes and sleds to rent, others, most notably the California State Sno-Parks, offer little more than a place to park your car so you can go play in the snow.
Adventure Mountain (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Adventure Mountain enables guests to pay for vehicle access to this South Lake Tahoe snow park and then permits them to use the facilities all day. Tubes are not included in the admission price. Rent sleds, tubes, helmets, and other equipment in the lodge, or bring your own.
Price: Entrance fee is $40 midweek per vehicle and $45 for weekends and holidays, and tube rental is $15 for kids and $20 for adults for a 2-hour session (+ $10 helmet rental).
Boreal Mountain (Soda Springs, CA)
This full-service ski resort in the Tahoe area has an area reserved for Tahoe Tubing and Snow Play for families with kids over 42″. Guests pay for a 90-minute session or an all-day pass. The pass includes tube access and a moving carpet to ascend the hill. Walk-up prices are much higher than advance online tickets, which are dynamically priced with the most affordable days being non-holiday weekdays. Cashless since 2022.
Price: Starts at $49 for a 90-minute session.
Granlibakken, Tahoe City
Granlibakken resort offers a dedicated sledding hill and snow play area for family fun. Their sledding hill is open from 10am–4pm daily!
Price: Sledding tickets cost $25 per person on weekdays and $35 on weekends and holidays and include saucer rental and an hour and a half of sledding. Kids under 3 sled for free, and lodging guests get a 50% discount. Guests must book sledding tickets in advance online, and choose a 90-minute time slot. Note: Granlibakken provides saucers; participants may not bring their own saucers and other sledding devices.
Location: 725 Granlibakken Road, Tahoe City, 96145. granlibakken.com
Hansen’s Resort: Snow Tube & Saucer Hill (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
This South Lake Tahoe destination has groomed runs for sledding and tubing. Heads up, there’s no high-tech help to get you back up the hill – enjoy the thrilling 400-ft-long run and then walk back up to the top. Call ahead for hours.
Price: **CASH ONLY** $40/hour per person age 5 & over (includes the use of tube or saucer and parking). Kids 4 & under are free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Kingvale Resort near Soda Springs offers groomed tubing and sledding runs and a snack bar. Bring your own tubes, sleds, and saucers! Opening day TBA.
Price: You can purchase an inexpensive ($26), two-person sled at the resort. Hours: Daily except for Tuesday and Wednesday, 10am–4pm; parking lot opens at 9am. All-day tickets cost $25 per person; parking fee $20; children under 2 are free.
Location: Kingvale Exit (Exit 171) off I-80, Kingvale, 95728. More information at kingvaleresort.com or 916.622.6654.
Leland High Sierra SnowPlay (Pinecrest, CA)
A little closer than Tahoe, this Sierra Nevada tubing center is a ton of fun. Park, pay, and start tubing! This is not a ski resort and open days are dependent on good snow coverage. Check the weather, days, and hours before you go. More about Leland Snow Play at snowplay.com.
Price: Weekday rates are $35 for guests over 44″ and $25 for guests under 44″. Weekend rates are $49 for guests over 44″ and $29 for guests under 44″.
While Soda Springs resort offers skiing and snowboarding, there’s a special focus on family snow play here, with tubing for everyone at Tube Town, and plenty of snow play for the little ones at Planet Kids — a snow playground for ages 8 and under with tubing, snow hills to climb, ski and snowboard lessons, and more. On-site dining is available.
Location: 10244 Soda Springs Road (off I-80 near Donner Summit), Soda Springs, 95728. More information at skisodasprings.com or 530.426.3901.
Tahoe Donner, Truckee
The dedicated snow play area at Tahoe Donner offers sledding and tubing fun for families. The TD Eats food truck will be on hand for snacks, soups, and beverages. Relax by the fire pit with a cup of hot chocolate after playing in the snow! It’s open Fridays 12:15–4:30pm and Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 9am–4:30pm.
Location: 12790 Northwoods Boulevard, Truckee, 96161. More information at www.tahoedonner.com or 530.587.9437.
Tube Tahoe (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
This snow park is designated solely for tubing, featuring 500 ft long lanes for as many downhill thrill rides as your family can handle. Visitors must climb up the run with their tubes. There is also a separate smaller incline for little tubers (2 and under) to enjoy (and a good place to rest before trekking up the hill). Guests pay for a 90-minute session, which includes one rental tube per person. Parking, restrooms, and shop with snacks, drinks, and snow gear onsite. Hours vary on holidays.
Price: Adults (age 13 & older) $65, Children (age 6-12) $55, Mini Tubers (age 3-5 riding with paying adult) $35, Snowplay (all ages) $15.
Operated by the state’s department of off-highway motor vehicle recreation, California Sno-Parks are no-frills places to park the car and get out and play in the snow. While many of them cater to snowmobile enthusiasts, there are a few that are perfect for sledding, snow play, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
The best part of Sno-Parks is the price: $15 for a day-use pass or $40 for a seasonal permit. Passes and permits for the 2022/2023 season are available through the Forest Service at fs.usda.gov or ohv.parks.ca.gov.
Sno-Parks that are open for snow play and sledding include:
Donner Summit (near Truckee off I-80)
Blackwood Canyon (near Tahoe City off Highway 89)
Carson Pass (off Highway 88)
Echo Lake (off Highway 50)
Iron Mountain (off Highway 88 near Kirkwood ski area)
Lake Alpine (off Highway 4)
Meiss Meadow (off Highway 88 near Carson Pass)
Spicer (off Highway 4)
Taylor Creek (off Highway 89 near Fallen Leaf Lake)
Yuba Pass (off Highway 49)
There are many more resorts and Sno-Parks to explore in the Sierra Nevada Mountains from Mt Shasta down to Southern California, the point is to get out and enjoy!