You don't have to be a skier to enjoy the Sierra Nevada winter wonderland. A snow tube, sled or snowshoes are all you need to enjoy a great day at numerous slopes and snow play areas close to Reno and 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.
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Tahoe Meadows has separate areas for snowmobiling and non-motorized snow recreation. The area is along both sides of Nevada 431 (Mount Rose Highway), about 15 miles from Reno and the intersection of 431 and U.S. 395. It's mostly public land within the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. You go past Mount Rose Ski Tahoe, and you'll see Tahoe Meadows just to the west of the Mount Rose Summit. Parking is right along the highway, so be careful unloading and loading your car. The snowmobile area is on the north side of the highway.
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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 Mount 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 Galena Creek Visitor Center calendar for fun things to do every season of the year.
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North Tahoe Regional Park is in Tahoe Vista, California, on Lake Tahoe's north shore. The park is operated by the North Tahoe Public Utility District. North Tahoe Winter Adventures, located across from the upper-level restrooms near the main parking lot, rents sleds for snow play.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Hope Valley is in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. This beautiful area is south of Lake Tahoe at the intersection of California Highways 88 and 89. A variety of winter activities is available. They include snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and winter wildlife viewing. From the website, you can download the Carson Ranger District Winter Recreation Guide, which gives you information about the winter recreation opportunities in Hope Valley. Note that the Blue Lakes Road and other parking areas in Hope Valley require you to have a Sno-Park permit from Nov. 1 through May 30.
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Located at the corner of Nevada Highways 50 and 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 might or might not be plowed. Since this area is in Nevada, a Sno-Park permit is not needed and there are no fees for snow play. Bring your own stuff — there are no rentals or other services.
Many of Lake Tahoe's ski and winter resorts have snow play areas that offer snow tubing, sledding and snowshoeing. It's a good idea to call ahead to make sure the areas are open and to ask about any fees involved.
- Tahoe Donner Snow Play Area
- Snow Tubing at Squaw Valley
- Northstar California Tubing Hill
- Tube Town at Soda Springs
- Playland Tubing Park at Boreal Mountain Resort
- Heavenly Lake Tahoe Tubing Hill
- Hansen's Resort Snow Tube and Saucer Hill
- Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe
- Sierra-at-Tahoe Blizzard Mountain Tubing and Snow Play
- Granlibakken's Snow Saucer Sledding Area
- Camp Richardson Mountain Sports Center