The corridor along Interstate 80 over Donner Summit offers a wide variety of choices for snow play. A number of ski resorts and other facilities have developed tube sliding hills with carpet conveyor lifts to carry sliders to the top of the hill. Some charge for a 2 hour session (which many find plenty for young children and even adults), while Soda Springs offers an all-day pass to their tube hill.
Many prefer to seek out their own sliding hills or snow play areas in the national forest. One good choice is to take advantage of the Sno-Park at Donner Summit. A good number of other locations suitable for snow play have been identified by the Forest Service and are listed below.
A few areas along Interstate 80 are posted for no snow play. Be sure the area you select is not private property and that you park legally. Parking is usually much easier several days after a recent snowfall when plows have a chance to clear the snow.
Donner Summit Sno-Park at Donner Summit is a good place to take children to play in the snow. Unlike most other spots along the highway, you can be sure the lot will be plowed and there are restrooms available. The Sno-Park is at the Boreal ski area turnoff, near the Pacific Crest Trail parking area.
Sno-Parks are parking areas maintained in the winter to allow people to park safely and pursue winter activities such as cross-county skiing or snow shoeing. They have pit toilets available. To use a Sno-Park you must have a permit. You can purchase a day permit for $5 or an annual pass (Nov. 1 - May 30) for $25. They are good at any California, Oregon, Washington, or Idaho Sno-Park.
Near Donner Summit you can be purchase Sno-Park permits at the following places:
Part of Soda Springs Ski Resort is a snow play area called Tube Town. A 390-foot long moving carpet carries children and adults to the top of the hill. Riders slide down special tube lanes.
Children must be 42 inches or taller. Anyone who has purchased a ski and snowboard lift ticket for the day may also use the tube hill at no extra charge. Persons watching at the base of the tube hill must purchase a $10 Pedestrian Pass.
Hours: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Tube Town Price: $40 for the whole day
Planet Kids is a great way to introduce small children to skiing and snowboarding along with giving them an opportunity to use other snow play facilities at the special area. They have 2 tube carousels, two moving carpets, a volcano to play and climb on, a mini tubing area, and more.
Planet Kids is found on the west side of the resort. Catch a sleigh ride over from the main lodge. At least one parent must be there to supervise the children. Soda Springs provides a coach to help the children learn the basics of snowboarding and skiing and how to use the various rides.
Hours: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Thursdays through Mondays and on holidays.
Price: $40, includes admission for one parent. Additional parents must purchase a $10 Pedestrian Pass.
Location: Soda Springs, 1 mile off Interstate 80
Boreal Ski Resort's Playland is a tubing hill for the whole family, with a moving carpet to carry sliders to the top of the hill. Tubes are provided. The hill is arranged with groomed tubing lanes. The hill is located at the far end of the parking lot.
Hours: Sunday - Thursday 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM,
Saturdays and holidays 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
2-hour session price: $34 (holidays $39)
All-Day session price: $44 (holidays $49)
Pedestrian pass $15
Location: Boreal, Adjacent to Interstate 80 at Donner Summit
Holidays: November 26-29, 2015; December 19, 2015 - January 3, 2016; January 16-18, 2016; February 13-21, 2016
Donner Ski Ranch's Tubing Hill has a moving carpet to carry sliders to the top of the hill. Tubes are provided.
Hours: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM,
2-hour session price: $25
Location: Take Soda Springs exit off Interstate 80, follow Donner Ski Ranch near Donner Pass.
Donner Ski Ranch Tubing Hill
Kingvale Resort operates Tubes-R-Us sliding hill at the Kingvale Exit off Interstate 80 during the winter. When snow cover is sufficient the tube sliding hill is open with a conveyer system to carry tube riders up the hill. Attendants are there to assist.
Parking: $10 per vehicle
Snow Play: $10 per person
Bring your own sliding gear or buy a plastic sled from them ($22).
Dogs are not allowed.
Information: (916) 622-6654
Hours: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Saturdays and Sundays and holidays (parking lot opens at 9 AM)
(Prices subject to change.)
Location: Kingvale Exit off I-80.
Tahoe Donner's Snowplay Area is open to the general public. They have established tubing runs along with areas to carve your own run. Your price of admission includes use of their sleds and tubes. Personal sleds are not allowed. They are scheduled to open December 9, 2016. (If snow permits, they will be open for Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 23-27, 2016).
Regular Hours: 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM, Saturdays and Sundays
Fridays 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Holiday Hours (2016 -2017):
Friday Night Tubing: The slope will remain open for tubing under the lights until 6:30 PM on the following Fridays: December 16, 2016; January 6, February 3, and March 3, 2017.
General Public Prices:
Adult (18 - 59) $25, Junior (13 - 17) $19, Child (4-12) $14, Senior (60-69) $14, Ages 3 and under or 70 and older free.
Greatly reduced prices for Tahoe Donner Association members and their guests; free for members with paid rec fee.
Location: Tahoe Donner Ski area north of Truckee
Tahoe Donner Snowplay
Some areas off Interstate 80 have strict No Parking designations and even some Snow Play Prohibited signs, such as at Emigrant Gap.
On nearby Echo Summit (Highway 50) are two great snow play areas - Adventure Mountain and Sierra-at-Tahoe's Blizzard Mountain. Get all the information on Discover Echo Summit.
On nearby Carson Pass there are four Sno-Parks and lots of little hills just right for sliding. Find the information on Up and Over Carson Pass.
Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway (Highway 4) to the south has two Sno-Parks, both near Bear Valley. The Bear Valley Cross Country Ski center has a sliding hill. For casual snow play there are numerous places along Highway 4 to pull over and enjoy the snow. Get details at Ebbetts Pass Adventures.
Farther to the south on Sonora Pass is Leland High Sierra Snow-Play area, a developed sliding hill complete with a lodge, sliding equipment, and even lifts. All the information is on Sonora Pass Vacations.
Check on snow conditions through ski resort webcams and snow reports. Webcams are sometimes found at the bottom of the ski resorts home page.