Quick Day Trip to See the Snow

Archived Q&A and Reviews

    Questions Related Pages

    2008 - 2012 Recommendations

    Closest spots for sledding with toddlers/

    Jan 2011

    What are some favorite and closest spots to take toddlers sledding and playing in the snow? Are there free areas that are good? What about commercial areas? My kids are 3 1/2 and getting excited about snow. Dad of twins

    We are going to try this place next month, so here's one option: http://www.snowplay.com/ Andi

    Sledding near Bay Area for toddlers

    Feb 2008

    We are looking for a place to take our 2 toddlers sledding that is as close to the Bay Area as possible (closer to a 2 hr drive as opposed to a 4 hr drive). Any suggestions? A resort area with tow ropes is good as well as a place that just has hills for sledding appropriate for toddlers. Thank you

    A great place for families, esp. ones with toddlers is Soda Springs in Truckee/Donner. It's 2 1/2 - 3 hours away on Hwy. 80 and they have tube runs: http://www.skisodasprings.com/index.html It's also super cheap!! anon
    Try this place. Approximately 2.5 hours from Berkeley off I-80. Great place, but if you go on a Saturday arrive early. Once the parking lot is full, the entrance to the park is closed. http://www.sno-park.com/ Janet
    Soda Springs ski area off the I-80 Soda Springs/Norden exit is great for toddler snow play. There's a separate area (''Planet Snow'') for toddlers with a small tube carousel and little ski/tube hill. You have to pay to play, but it's still very affordable. I would avoid the nearby snow parks (Yuba Gap, etc.) on weekends. It can be a chaotic and sometimes dangerous free-for-all, with no people officially doing traffic control for little kids and big adults sliding in cross-directions down the same hill. Yikes. I used to take my two kids sledding at Yuba Gap when they were toddlers, and was somewhat relieved when they took up skiing a few years later because ironically, skiing seemed less dangerous than sledding! www.skisodasprings.com CC
    We have taken our 3 year old twice now up Highway 4. there is a pretty good spot just past Dorrington and Big Trees state park, on the north side of the freeway. Nothing official, just a plowed spot on the side of the road with several hills. It is a popular spot.

    It is probably just under 3 hours from Oakland, past Angels Camp, Murphys and Arnold. You can stop at a ski place in Arnold if you want to buy a sled or saucer. Murphys is a good spot to stop to eat and walk around if you like. Another good thing about this trip over taking I80 is that it seems to have much less traffic and is more scenic. The kids can be entertained by watching for cows, horses, sheep through the foothills. Other than the occasional slow down over the altomont pass, it is generally smooth sailing through 580, Stockton, and Hwy 4. Bryan in Oakland

    2004 - 2007 Recommendations

    Day trip so 3-year-olds can play in the snow

    Jan 2007

    Can anyone recommend a good spot for a day trip to play in the snow? My twins are 3, so we don't need much as far as activity... we just want to be able to drive no longer than 2 - 21/2 hours and be able to pull them in the snow on our tobogan and throw snowballs. Hopefully also somewhere that we won't have to pay a use fee since we will only most likely play for an hour or so. Last year we made a last minute drive up 80 and it seemed like all of the stops required a per person fee to play. thanks! karie

    Most all ski resorts that have sledding/tubing charge per person and you must use their equipment. Next there are snow parks that have you pay $5/car or ($25/car/year?). These let you play and use your own sleds and toboggans. Lastly, there are just places to pull over. The best website listing places to pull over that I've found is http://www.vacationstation.com/tahoe/topic.cfm?GP=72. All the distances are from Incline Village, NV. The listing closest to the bay area is Emigrant Gap. We just got back from the mountains on the 7th and there wasn't much snow there. You would need to go closer to the summit still. The Mt Rose site was fantastic for those who are in that area. linda
    We like Sno-Park off Yuba Gap on Highway 80. It's 2-3 hours depending on traffic and weather. There is a nominal fee to get in the park, but I think it's reasonable: $5 per car and $1 per person. Here's the web site: http://www.sno-park.com/snow_play.htm
    have fun! anon
    A wonderful area to play in the snow can be found when you drive up Hwy 4 past Angels Camp to Arnold. Last year we did exactly that. We stopped in Arnold - just somewhere on a quiet street - and pulled the kids (1 1/2 and 4) on the sleds. It was wonderful. This is a 3+ hr drive, though. JOJ

    Cheap snow day for preschooler?

    March 2006

    We would like to take our preschooler to the snow, but don't have the finances for a weekend away. Can anyone recommend a cheap way to have fun in the snow? Doing a day trip sounds exhausting, but I'm not sure what else to do. Is there anyplace close enough for a day round-trip? Or does anyone know of a cheap (but healthy!) hotel for a one night stay, near a good snow play area? jenny

    You can easily get away to Dodge Ridge, which is about a 3.5-4 hour drive from Berkeley. There is skiing and/or a sledding place that is only $9. a day and great for families. Plan to arrive early, it can be a madhouse. Bring a family picnic lunch box, and buy drinks or any combination. There is a big open lodge room that sells hot chocolate, and food, but many people bring all kinds of things themselves and eat at the picnic tables inside. The sledding place has NO rope tow, so it's a bit of a workout, but they have tubes, etc. http://www.dodgeridge.com/ Plan to take chains. jane
    I think that Strawberry on Route 108 was our favorite close place. We drove up in less than three hours, saw people sledding by the side of the road, and piled out. There's also a snow play place up the road (Dodge Ridge?) but it can get crowded on the weekends. snow lover

    Snow day trip 2-3 hours away

    Jan 2005

    I would like to get some recommendations for inexpensive fun places to go play in the snow for the day. My kids have never experienced snow. We didn't want to get involved with skiing or snowboarding at all. We were also hoping to find someplace that we could get to in 2-3 hours, play for the day and come back home. We don't need anything more than the snow - no ski lifts, no rope tows, just snow. Does anyone have a favorite park where we could just throw snowballs at each other? I would definitely prefer to stay away from big ski type places like Tahoe. Thanks! Sharon

    For the past 2 years, we have taken our toddlers up to the Donner Pass Rest area! It is located in the middle of the national forest, so it is surrounded by forest. It has lots of snow, gentle hills for sledding, and it's FREE! Just take 80 east - the rest area is about 15 miles this side of Truckee, I think. Every time we have been there, there have been plenty of other people doing the same thing - throwing snowballs, sledding, making snow angels, etc. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate, and you are set. snow cheapskate
    We just got back from the Dodge Ridge area this weekend, which is about 30 miles east of Sonora on Hwy 108. Its about 2.5 -3 hours from Oakland, depending on traffic of course. Just past Dodge Ridge on Hwy 108 is Leland Snow Park. First time we had been there. It was OK. A bit too crowded for me, but lots of snow and big hills to go down, plus a kids area where the hills were smaller. Our kids were a bit overwhelmed, and on the way there we passed by plenty of place where people just pulled over and played in the snow. The nice thing about the snow park is the amenities like food and bathrooms.

    Somewhere around there is another snow park run by the Forest Service or some other gov't agency I think. Have never checked it out but maybe you could find some info on line about it. Hilary

    2003 & Earlier

    Non-stressful daytrip to see the snow

    Jan 2003

    I would like to take my toddler daughter (and family dog) to see and play in snow for the first time. With the recent rains, I think the snow level must be relatively high. I would like to make this a nonstressful daytrip if possible. Does anybody have suggestions of the site closest to the Bay area might be? I've checked on the website but can't find discussion of an area with just snow in an open, public area without need for skiing or tubing. Thanks in advance, Madeline

    Last year, we chose to stay in Reno for a weekend and we drove down to Tahoe to ''snowplay''. We found Tahoe state park has a hill for sledding. We paid for use of the hill and we rented sleds. It was a blast! Because it was pretty cheap, I didn't feel guilty when my son wanted to quit when he was cold and wet. They even had a little snack bar with hot chocolate. Bennett
    I think you could find good places to play in the snow and do some sledding by just driving the 80 east. Well before you hit Truckee, there are a couple of ''Sno-parks'' that charge much less for day use than the regular resorts. Unfortunately, I don't have the name or contact information, but you will see the signs as soon as you get into higher elevations. I have done daytrips many times to the Western Sierra, and it is totally doable! On the way back, don't forget to stop for an Ostrich burger at ''Redrum Burger'' (formerly ''Murder Burger'') off the Olive Street exit in Davis. Anna Stenport

    Snow 101 for 4-year-old

    Jan 2002

    I have read the recent postings for snow trips, but am hoping to find something very basic. Can someone recommend a Snow 101 trip? My daughter is just 4, and has never experienced snow. Therefore any kind of snow experience will be a thrill for her. What I am interested in is a place to go that is the shortest, least mountainy distance from here that has some white stuff on the ground. Winter sports aren't really important to us for this trip. We want to get away for a day or two, and make a few snowballs. Becky

    Snow Trip recommendation: Dodge Ridge is only 2.5 hours away. All a 4 year old needs is a tiny hill not a big snow park. Darlene's vacation rental's has houses to rent. There's also Pinecrest and strawberry lodge. Dorothea
    We had a really wonderful experience at Granlibaaken resort near Truckee. They even have a web site that has all the information about the resort. I would also recommend Northstar at Tahoe. Alice