You don't have to be a skier to enjoy the Sierra Nevada winter wonderland. A snow tube or sled is all you need to enjoy a great family day a numerous nearby slopes and snow play areas.
Snow Play Areas Close to Reno and Around Lake Tahoe
Snow play areas and sno-parks abound near Reno and up around Lake Tahoe. Snow play areas in Nevada are somewhat informal, while over in California there is a SNO-PARK program run by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and other agencies. Many of the Lake Tahoe ski resorts also have snow play areas.
Snow Play Areas Close to Reno and Around Lake Tahoe
Tahoe Meadows Snow Play Area - Tahoe Meadows has separate areas for snowmobiling and non-motorized snow recreation. The area is along both sides of Nevada 431 (Mt. Rose Highway), about 15 miles from Reno and the intersection of 431 and US 395. It's mostly public land within the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. You go past Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe and you'll see Tahoe Meadows just to the west of the Mt. Rose Summit. When I've been there, the shoulders on both side have been plowed, making for plenty of parking. It's right along the highway, though, so be careful unloading and loading your car. The snowmobile area is on the north side of the highway. I've got a gallery of Tahoe Meadows pictures so you can check out this excellent snow play area.
Galena Creek Visitor Center and Recreation Area - You can get to Galena Creek Visitor Center and Recreation Area easily from Reno, even when it's tough going higher up in the mountains. There are no big sledding and tubing hills, but you can snowshoe the summer hiking trails like Thomas Creek, build a snowman or snow fort, have a snowball fight, and let your dog enjoy a romp in the snow. It's also a beautiful place for winter photography. To get there, take the first entrance to Galena Creek Recreation Area from the Mt. Rose Highway, just after the road enters the forest. Drive past the Visitor Center to the parking area at the end of the road and you're there. Be sure to check out the "Programs and Events at Galena Creek Visitor Center" for fun family things to do every season of the year.
Incline Village Snow Play Area - This snow play hill is on Fairway Blvd. in Incline Village, on the Chateau golf course driving range. Incline Village is reached by taking the Mt. Rose Highway to Nevada 28 on Lake Tahoe's north shore. At the intersection, turn left for Incline Village.North Tahoe Regional Park Snow Play Area - North Tahoe Regional Park is in Tahoe Vista, CA, on Lake Tahoe's north shore. The park is operated by the North Tahoe Public Utility District. For information, call (530) 546-4212.
Hope Valley Winter Recreation - Hope Valley, within the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, is a beautiful area south of Lake Tahoe at the intersection of Highways 88 and 89. A variety of winter activities are available, including snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and winter wildlife observation. From the website, you can download the Carson Ranger District Winter Recreation Guide with information about the winter recreation opportunities in Hope Valley. Note that the Blue Lakes Road parking area in Hope Valley requires you to have a Sno-Park permit from November 1 through May 30.
Sierra Adventures - For those who want some assistance with their snow trip, Sierra Adventures in Reno provides guided trips and tours to several Reno and Lake Tahoe area snow play and snow tubing areas.
Spooner Summit - Located at the corner of Highway 50 and Highway 28 near Lake Tahoe (9 miles south of Incline Village), this area provides slopes for sledding and snow tubing. Be aware that the parking area may or may not be plowed. Since this area is in Nevada, a sno-park permit is not needed. Bring your own stuff - there are not rentals or other services. The Spooner Lake Cross Country Ski Area did not renew its permit and will not be open for the 2012 - 2013 season.
Snow Play Areas at Ski and Winter Resorts - Sledding and Tubing
Many of Lake Tahoe's ski and winter resorts have snow play areas with a variety of activities such as snow tubing, sledding, snowshoeing, and other varieties of snow play. Be sure to call ahead to make sure the areas are open and to inquire about any fees involved.
- Tahoe Donner Snow Play Area - (530) 587-9437 - 12790 Northwoods Blvd. in Truckee.
- Snow Tubing at Squaw Valley - (530) 583-6985 - south of Truckee on Highway 89.
- Tube Town at Soda Springs - (530) 426-3901 - west of Reno on I80, at Soda Springs exit.
- Northstar California Tubing Hill - (530) 562-2013 - south of Truckee on Highway 267.
- Snow Tubing Hill at Heavenly Lake Tahoe - (775) 586-7000 - South Lake Tahoe.
- Playland Tubing Park at Boreal - (530) 426–3666 - west of Reno on I80 at Donner Summit.
- Sierra-at-Tahoe Sledding, Tubing, and Snow Play - (530) 659-7453 - 1111 Sierra at Tahoe Road, Twin Bridges, west of Lake Tahoe on Hwy. 50.
- Hansen's Resort Snow Tube and Saucer Hill - (530) 544-3361 - 1360 Ski Run Blvd., South Lake Tahoe.
- Camp Richardson Resort Winter Recreation - (800) 544-1801 - 1900 Jameson Beach Rd., South Lake Tahoe.
- Granlibakken's Snow Play Area - (800) 543-3221 - 725 Granlibakken Road, Tahoe City, west shore Lake Tahoe.
- Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe - (530) 659-7217 - on Echo Summit, a few miles west of South Lake Tahoe at 21200 Highway 50.