The Best Sledding, Tubing & Snow Play Spots Within Two Hours of Sacramento
This post has been updated for 2023.
Sacramento is within driving distance to some of the best outdoor recreation in the state, including the snowy landscapes of the Sierra Nevada. But you don’t have to be a skier or snowboarder to enjoy California’s winter wonderland (although we do have great skiing and snowboarding resorts nearby too). There are several designated resorts and snow parks designed just for sledding, tubing and even snowmobiling. Best of all, accessing these snow play spots doesn’t require a nausea-inducing, white-knuckle drive on curvy mountain roads — many of these locations are within a two-hour drive of Sacramento. So, bundle up, fill a thermos with hot cocoa and head up the hill!
Note: Winter storms of 2023 mean not only tons of snow, but also dangerous driving conditions. Please double-check the weather and road conditions in advance.
The state of California operates 18 snow parks, from Sierra County to as far south as Fresno. More than a half dozen are within a two-hour drive of Sacramento. These are protected areas with groomed runs, parking, and, in many cases, restrooms. Permits are required and can be ordered online or purchased at nearby vendor locations for $15 a day or $40 for a season pass.
The California Sno-Parks closest to Sacramento include Donner Summit Sno-Park, Echo Lake Sno-Park, Blackwood Canyon Sno-Park, Taylor Creek Sno-Park, Iron Mountain Sno-Park and Hope Valley Sno-Park. Most allow for general snow play, tubing, sledding and cross-country skiing. Blackwood Canyon, Hope Valley and Iron Mountain also allow snowmobiling. Note there are no rentals at California Sno-Parks, so bring your own equipment!
Just an hour and a half from Sacramento, Soda Springs Mountain Resort is best known for its skiing and snowboarding. But they also have several options for snow play and tubing. Tube Town features groomed runs — up to 10, to be exact — plus a 400-foot lift so you don’t have to haul your tube up the hill yourself. For younger kids, Planet Kids has a snowy playground and plenty of space to roam. Tickets start at $25 and include tube rental (no personal tubes or sleds permitted).
Just over an hour from Sacramento in Placer County, the Nyack Snow Park is an easy option for a day of snow play. Gentle hills and rolling, snow-covered paths make it perfect for young children. No rentals are available, so bring your own, or pick up a plastic saucer or sled (even mittens!) at the neighboring gas station. Parking is $25, otherwise there’s no cost to play.
Tahoe Donner is another good bet for a day in the Sierra. Tahoe Donner Snowplay offers monitored, groomed tubing lanes and includes use of tubes, sleds and other snow toys. They also offer special events throughout the season, like snowman-building contests, snow-bowling competitions and snowball-launching challenges for the whole family. Prices start at $20 for kids and $25 for adults.
Just off I-80 near Soda Springs, Kingvale Resort is a no-frills spot to enjoy a little snow play. You can bring your own sled or buy one there and race down one of several groomed runs. Need some snow gear? You can also buy gloves, hats, snow pants and snow boots as well. Parking is $20 per day (cash only) plus $25 per person for entry to the snow park.
Further up the hill near Tahoe City is Granlibakken Tahoe, an all-in-one winter adventure for the whole family. There’s a beginner’s ski and snowboard hill, cross-country and snowshoeing trails, and a designated sledding hill. Plastic saucers are provided. There’s also an onsite café so you can fuel up (and warm up) before or after your runs. 90-minute sledding passes start at $15, and can be booked in advance. Granlibakken also has lodging if you’d rather make a weekend out of it.
Located at the top of Echo Summit in El Dorado County, Adventure Mountain comprises more than 40 acres of pristine alpine wilderness. There are 15 machine-groomed sledding and tubing runs, plus plenty of space to make snow angels and snowmen. No need to bring your own gear — Adventure Mountain has sled, tube and helmet rentals. There’s also a lodge where you can warm up by the fire and grab lunch. The day use fee is $40 on weekdays and $45 on weekends; tubing starts at $15 for kids and rentals are extra.