The Best Spots for Sledding, Tubing and Snow Play Near Sacramento
This post has been updated for 2024.
Contrary to what many people believe, California isn’t all about sand and surf — come winter, it’s also all about snow! The Sierra Nevada stretches from north to south, providing unlimited opportunities for snow sports across much of the state. Although there are plenty of ski and snowboarding resorts to choose from, sometimes you just want to have a low-key day playing in the snow with the kids. Luckily, there are dedicated snow play areas within just a few hours of Sacramento where you can sled, tube, snowmobile or just frolic in a winter wonderland. So, dig out those gloves and boots, grab a snow disc or tractor tire, and head up the hill for a fun day out.
Note: The 2024 snow season is getting off to a late start in the Sierra. Be sure to check the latest conditions for snow levels before leaving home.
If you’re looking for a designated snow play area, head to one of the 18 parks operated by the state of California. More than half are within driving distance from Sacramento, offering 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. One ticket gets you access to all of their snow play areas and includes tube rentals and lift tickets. Note that there are no on-site ticket purchases; all tickets must be purchased online ahead of time. Best of all, they make their own snow so you don’t have to depend on Mother Nature.
Located near Truckee, Tahoe Donner is another ski resort that also offers a designated snow play area. They have groomed tubing lanes, sled lanes and plenty of space to make snow angels or have a snowball fight. 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 $27 and reservations must be made in advance.
More than 40 acres of pristine alpine wilderness make up Adventure Mountain, located at the top of Echo Summit in El Dorado County. At 7,400 feet elevation, they get more snowfall than most resorts in the Tahoe area. Groomed runs are available for little kids as well as adults, and there’s no need to bring your own tubes — they are provided. 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.
This all-in-one winter sports resort near Tahoe City is a great spot for the whole family. They offer an oversized sledding hill and saucers are provided. There are also trails for both downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing (snow dependent). Hungry? The onsite café offers snacks and drinks, plus views of the sledding area. 90-minute sledding passes start at $25, and can be booked in advance. They also have night sledding! Granlibakken also has lodging if you’d rather make a weekend out of it.
What started as a makeshift spot for snow play on the way to Tahoe is now a full-fledged snow play area. Located just 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 (or a cup of hot cocoa!) at the neighboring gas station. Parking is $25, otherwise there’s no cost to play.
Kingvale Resort is a laid-back spot to enjoy a day on the snow. Located just off I-80 near Soda Springs, it offers 12 different groomed runs, plus a small hill for the littlest ones and a snow play area. You can bring your own sled or buy one there. Need some snow gear? You can also buy gloves, hats, snow pants and snow boots as well. Parking is $20 per day plus $25 per person for entry to the snow park. Note: for safety reasons, they do not allow inflatable tubes.