Sledding and Snow Play
You don’t need to be under the age of 12 to have a blast flying down a hill on a specially designed snow tube or saucer, or grabbing a handful of fresh powder and starting a roaring snowball fight. Any number of hills all around Tahoe become designated or impromptu play areas each season once the snow gets deep.
A good way to find one near your accommodations is to ask a few locals; they’ll be able to tell you which spots are the best for small children and which ones appeal more to big kids-at-heart. Many of the ski resorts, including Boreal and Donner, offer snow-play areas as well as their trademark steep ski slopes.
Just a couple of miles from Heavenly Valley in a cute residential area sits the Tube & Saucer Hill at Hansen’s Resort (1360 Ski Run Blvd., 530/544-3361, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., $6/hour, $12 for 3 hours). One of the annual favorites, this hill offers more in the way of features than many impromptu play spots. Don’t bother stacking a bunch of equipment in the car, since Hansen’s requires that you use their saucers and tubes. With constructed runs, you’ll definitely get some thrills as you slip down the hill through the scattered pine trees. The resort also makes a snack bar and a redwood hot tub available to fee-paying snow-lovers.
In the South Shore area past Meyers on Highway 50, Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe (21220 Hwy. 50 at Echo Summit, 530/577-4352, www.adventuremountaintahoe.com, Dec.–Apr. daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m., $15/car) boasts the best groomed sledding area in all of Tahoe. With 40 acres of sled runs and play areas, plus restrooms and a concession stand that sells hot coffee and new sleds, Adventure Mountain works to make good on its promise. It’s also got access to the Pacific Crest Trail and a few other cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails for those who want a more quiet but labor-intensive day in the snow. Feel free to bring your own sleds and tubes.
Up on the North Shore, the North Tahoe Winter Adventures (Donner Rd., Tahoe Vista, 530/546-0605, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., $5/all day) is part of the North Tahoe Regional Park. This fully developed seasonal recreation area includes warm restrooms, groomed hills, a snack bar, snowmobile tracks (plus on-site snowmobile rentals), and several miles of cross-country trails. Whatever kind of playing in the snow you want, you can do it here—and all within sight of the lovely north end of the lake.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition