California Sno-Parks: Snow Play Around Lake Tahoe

Bundle Up, Enjoy the Snow

Winter snow play in the Sierra Nevada.
••• Winter snow play in the Sierra Nevada. Wade Eakle / Getty Images

Snow play of many varieties is a favorite part of winter in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area, and the weather affords plenty of opportunities for it. California operates 18 Sno-Park areas, several of which are within striking distance of Reno. California Sno-Park areas provide access to places in the Sierra Nevada for snow play, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and other winter recreational activities.These areas also have plowed parking lots and restrooms.

Sno-Parks permits are required to use these areas from Nov. 1 to May 30. As of November 2017, the daily fee is $5, or you can get a season pass for $25. If you get caught parked at one of these places without a permit, the fine is $94.50.

Sno-Park areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and there are no guaranteed parking spaces. The parking lots are not always plowed and open as a result of weather conditions and other possible problems. Before heading out, be sure to check weather and highway conditions. For more information, call the Sno-Park Hotline at (916) 324-1222.

Where to Buy Sno-Park Permits

In the Reno/Tahoe area, California Sno-Park permits are available at these locations:

  • Reno Cycles & Gear, 3445 Kietzke Lane, Reno, NV 89502; (775) 355-8810
  • Carson City Ranger Station (ESIA), 1536 S. Carson St., Carson City, NV 89701; (775) 828-9233

For locations of Sno-Park permit sellers in California, refer to the Sno-Park Permit Vendors list.

To buy daily or season permits by mail, download the order form and follow the instructions. Make checks or money orders payable to the California Department of Parks & Recreation. 

Buy Sno-Park Permits Online

You can also buy Sno-Park permits online. At the end of the transaction, you can print a temporary permit if it is a season pass.

A permanent one will be mailed to you. For daily permits, you can print it and head for the hills. Either way, a $1.95 service fee is added to the total, as of November 2017.

California Sno-Park Locations

  • Balsam Meadows
  • Blackwood Canyon
  • Carson Pass
  • Coyote
  • Donner Summit
  • Eastwood
  • Echo Lake
  • Highway 108
  • Hope Valley
  • Huntington Lake
  • Iron Mountain
  • Lake Alpine
  • Meiss Meadow
  • Rock Creek
  • Spicer
  • Tamarack
  • Taylor Creek
  • Yuba Pass

Sno-Park Rules

You can park your car on the lot overnight, but it must be staked to prevent damage from snow plows. You can also sleep in your car overnight, called vehicle camping, but tent camping and sleep outside your vehicle in a parking area is not allowed. You cannot build campfires on paved areas, and you must pack out your own trash. You should have a shovel in your car and tire chains installed. You should always wear clothing appropriate for the weather and use common sense.

Other Places to Use Your California Sno-Park Permit

California Sno-Park permits are also valid in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Oregon, Washington, and Idaho Sno-Park permits are valid in California, as well. If you are traveling to those three states between Nov. 1 and May 30, be sure to take your California Sno-Park permit in case you decide to stop and play at one of their parks.

More Sno-Park Information