Skiing isn’t the only way to have fun in the snow when you visit Truckee. If you’re looking for a different winter activity to do with your family, consider one of the following spots for a day of snow play. There’s something for everyone and every age, from resorts with groomed tubing to primitive sledding hills tucked into the forest.
Ready to play in the snow? Here are our top five places to go sledding, tubing, and build a snowman while you’re in Truckee.
#1 McIver Dairy Meadow
Dubbed the “official sledding hill of Truckee,” the hill behind McIver Dairy Meadow is one of Truckee’s most popular snow play areas and is just minutes from downtown. The hill is fairly steep and narrow, with heavy tree coverage in spots. Be sure to use caution while sledding here and always start small.
While sections of this hill are open to sledding, the meadow below is closed to protect an ongoing restoration project. Make sure to observe signage and stay within the designated sledding area. Parking is limited and it can get quite crowded during the holidays. If the parking area is full, you can also park in historic downtown and walk up to the sledding hill.
#2 Tahoe Donner Snow Play
Kids can enjoy all of the snow play activities here, like sledding, tubing, snowman building, snowball fighting, and more. There’s a fun sledding hill with monitored tubing lanes, and best of all, you don’t have to pack a thing – sleds and inner tubes are included in the price of admission. This is a great place to bring small children, with gentle hills that are just steep enough for little ones to feel an exhilarating thrill. Tahoe Donner Snow Play also has fun events each weekend like snowman building contests and snow tube bowling where you get to be the bowling ball!
#3 Donner Summit Sno-Park
If you want more of an adventurous feel to your snow play, visit the Donner Summit Sno-Park. Nestled into a quiet corner of Donner Summit, just off of the Pacific Crest Trail, this sno-park has great sledding hills in a mountain setting. You won’t find any manicured hills or groomed runs here, and you’ll need to bring your own sledding gear. What you will find is adventure and the possibility of your own private hill if you hike for it. Day passes are only $5. Make sure to pick one up before heading to the sno-park.
#4 Soda Springs Resort
There is so much fun to be had at Soda Springs Resort. Families will love Planet Kids, a snow playground located just across from the ski resort. There are snow “rides,” such as a tubing carousel, and lots of open space for snowball fights, snowman building and whatever else your imagination can think up. While the little ones will enjoy the gentler terrain at Planet Kids, older kids will love spending the day at Tube Town which has up to ten groomed lanes for tubing.
#5 Donner Memorial State Park
You won’t find a ton of sledding hills at Donner Memorial State Park, but it is an incredibly scenic spot for your family to play in the snow. A short walk will bring you down to the beach where you can marvel at the frozen lake (when temperatures allow) and make a snowman with Donner Summit as your backdrop. Explore the winter trails and start a snowball fight through the trees. You won’t find big crowds at this stop. Its “off the beaten path” feel makes for an intimate family adventure in the quiet of the state park’s forest setting.
Siobhan spent years traveling around the West as a National Park Ranger before setting down roots in Truckee. It was the skiing that brought her here – Truckee’s world class resorts and endless backcountry terrain were irresistible. Outdoor adventure is her bread and butter and most days you can find her skiing, trail running, or backpacking. She’s a freelance writer and landscape photographer. Follow along with her adventures on Instagram @siokenney.