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Winter Recreation in Northern California

There’s no better place for playing in the snow than Placer County.

Today, internationally celebrated athletes appreciate Placer County ski slopes while families delight in cross-country skiing, snowboarding, or simply tubing. Whatever your level of interest, it’s here.

The winter months bring bountiful snowfall and snow fun to the higher elevations of Placer County. Winter activities include snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice skating, sleigh rides, sledding, tobogganing, snow play and of course downhill, telemark and cross-country skiing.  You can even go heli-skiing.

Fourteen miles east of Foresthill, China Wall is a no-cost recreation site operated by the U.S. Forest Service that features plenty of area for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and family snow play. There are a number of areas along Interstate 80 that are easily accessible for snow recreation, some require a Sno-Park permit.

Sno-Parks in Placer County

  • Safe, low cost program for the entire family to enjoy Placer County's great winter wonderland
  • Operated through California Department of Parks and Recreation, offers snow-cleared parking lots, direct access to snow play areas, cross-country ski trails, and snowmobile regions
  • Copy of the “Guide to Sno-Park and Trailhead Areas” and/or to purchase a Sno-Park Permit, available at the California Welcome Center Auburn, 1103 High Street, Auburn, 530 887-2111
  • Note: For the 2011/12 winter season, there is only one official Sno-Park area along the I-80 corridor at Donner Summit (Boreal) leading to Lake Tahoe and another on Highway 89 (at Blackwood Canyon) three miles south of Tahoe City. Others are scattered throughout the Sierra Nevada and are listed in the California Sno-Parks brochure on the California Department of Parks and Recreation website.

Donner Summit

  • Hwy 80, Castle Peak exit; look for distinctive brown signs
  • Cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, dog sledding, and snow play on the south side of the freeway, east of the Boreal Inn; Ski trails are on the north side of the freeway
  • Call Tahoe National Forest 530 587-3558

Blackwood Canyon

  • West side of Highway 89 three miles south of Tahoe City
  • Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, snow play, and snowmobile trails
  • Call Lake Tahoe Basin Management 530 543-2600

Winter Recreation in Placer County

Skiing & Snowboarding

Alpine Meadows

2600 Alpine Meadows Road, Tahoe City
800 403-0206

  • Base Elev. 6835’; Summit Elev. 8637’; 2400 acres; 12 lifts and 100+ trails
  • 25% Beginner; 40% Intermediate; 35% Advanced
  • Unobstructed View of Lake Tahoe is part of the charm

Boreal Mountain Resort

19749 Boreal Ridge Road, Soda Springs
530 426-3666

  • Base Elev. 7200’; Summit Elev. 7700’; 380 acres; 9 lifts and 41 trails
  • 30% Beginner; 55% Intermediate; 15% Advanced
  • Nighttime skiing

Donner Ski Ranch

19320 Donner Pass Road, Norden
530 426-3635

  • Base Elev. 7031’; Summit Elev. 7781’: 460 acres; 6 lifts and 52 trails
  • 25% Beginner; 50% Intermediate: 25% Advanced
  • Family-owned ski resort

Granlibakken Conference Center & Lodge

725 Granlibakken Road, Tahoe City
800 543-3221

  • Base Elev. 6310’; 2 lifts
  • Beginner & Intermediate
  • Tahoe’s oldest established ski resort offers an intimate hill

Homewood Mountain Resort

5145 West Lake Boulevard, Homewood
530 525-2992

  • Base Elev. 6230’; Summit Elev. 7880’; 1260 acres; 8 lifts and 59 trails
  • 15% Beginner; 50% Intermediate; 35% Advanced
  • One of Lake Tahoe’s oldest winter recreation sites with and unobstructed view of Lake Tahoe

Northstar California

5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee
800 466-6784

  • Base Elev. 6330’; Summit Elev.8610’; 2490 acres; 17 lifts and 83 trails
  • 13% Beginner; 62% Intermediate; 25% Advanced
  • Resort was bought in 2011 by Vail Resorts of Colorado

Soda Springs

10244 Soda Springs Road, Soda Springs
530 426-3901

  • Base Elev. 6700’; Summit Elev. 7360’; 200 acres; 2 lifts and 16 trails
  • 30% Beginner; 50% Intermediate; 20% Advanced
  • Excellent for families and beginners

Squaw Valley USA

1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley
800 403-0206 or 530 452-4331

  • Base Elev. 6200’; Summit Elev. 9050’; 4000 acres; 33 lifts and 100+ trails
  • 25% Beginner; 45% Intermediate; 30% Advanced
  • Site of the 1960 Winter Olympics

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort

629 Sugar Bowl Road, Norden
530 426-9000

  • Base Elev. 6883’; Summit Elev. 8383’; 1500 acres 10 lifts and 84 trails
  • 17% Beginner; 45% Intermediate; 38% Advance
  • The enhanced Backcountry Adventure Center offers guided backcountry tours

Snowshoe & Cross-Country Trails

Blackwood Canyon/Kaspian Recreation Area

Hwy 89 and Blackwood Canyon Rd, 4 miles south of Tahoe City
530 573-2600

  • Non-groomed trails and no rentals
  • There are good beginner and intermediate areas with gentle terrain and open meadows
  • Further into Blackwood Canyon beyond the road the trail becomes more challenging for experienced skiers
  • Forest Service warns that areas beyond the paved road are prone to avalanche

China Wall

Foresthill Divide Road, 14 miles east of Foresthill
530 367-2224

  • No rentals
  • Miles of snow trails are groomed from China Wall
  • Be aware that the trails are for multiple uses (cross-country ski, snowshoe and snowmobile) and please be courteous in sharing the trails

Granlibakken Ski Area

725 Granlibakken Road, Tahoe City
800 543-3221

  • Rentals and Warming Huts
  • Lift access to several miles of Nordic skiing terrain, including Page Meadows and Tahoe Rim Trail, 1mileOlympic racing par course located at base of ski area.

Northstar California

15001 Northstar Drive, Truckee
800 466-6784

  • Rentals, Lessons and Warming Huts
  • 40 Kilometers of carefully groomed and scenic trails
  • The new expanded Cross – Country, Telemark and Snowshoe Center features a sundeck and expanded teaching area

Resort at Squaw Creek

400 Squaw Creek Road, Olympic Valley
530 583-6300 or 800 327-3353

  • Rentals and Lessons
  • 18 kilometers of groomed trails through the beautiful meadow at Squaw Creek or head into the backcountry of Squaw Valley
  • A complete Nordic Center located at the trailhead of the Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Trails

Royal Gorge X-Country Ski Resort

9411 Pahatsi Road, Soda Springs
800 500-3871 or 530 426-3871

  • Rentals, Lessons and 10 Warming Huts
  • North America’s largest cross country ski resort with 90 trails, 330 kilometer track, 9000+ acres and 4 surface lifts

Tahoe X-Country Ski Area

925 Country Club Drive, Tahoe City
530 583-5475

  • No Rentals and 2 Warming Huts
  • 65 Kilometers of pristine grooming, 19 individual trails
  • Fabulous view of the Lake

Snowshoe Tours

Tahoe Adventure Company

530 913-9212 or 866 830-6125

Snowmobiling

Blackwood Canyon

Hwy 89, 3 miles south of Tahoe City
530 573-2600

  • Trail with fee parking at Kaspian Point
  • Ride west up level road 2.5 miles, left across bridge over creek up Barker Pass Rd. to large open areas, some steep bowls, and many roads
  • Intermediate and Advanced
  • No Rentals

China Wall

Foresthill Divide Road, 14 miles east of Foresthill
530 367-2224

  • 2 adjacent parking lots and Toilets
  • Miles of snow trails are groomed from China Wall
  • Be aware that the trails are for multiple uses (cross-country ski snowshoe and snowmobile) please be courteous in sharing the trails
  • Rentals: Foresthill Snowmobile Rentals

Full Throttle Tahoe

8001 North Lake Boulevard, Kings Beach
530 546-8774

  • Riding area consists of over 13,000 acres of groomed snowmobile trails, beautiful meadows and incredible views
  • Riders of all abilities are set up with snowmobile rentals and protective gear
  • Trailers are available to take snowmobiles to outlying areas

High Sierra Snowmobiling

7900 North Lake Boulevard, King Beach
530 546-9909

  • Snowmobile rentals
  • Ride on a track at the historic Old Brockway Golf Course in North Lake Tahoe
  • Two persons may ride a snowmobile together

Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours

Brockway Summit, Hwy 267, Kings Beach
530 546-4280

  • Our exciting tours are designed for all ages and ability levels
  • We have over 100 miles of trails that travel through the pristine National Forest offering spectacular views of the entire fabulous Lake Tahoe

Sledding/Tubing/Snowplay

Boreal Mountain Resort Playland

19749 Boreal Ridge Road, Soda Springs
530 426-3666

  • Features five groomed lanes with Tube rentals

China Wall

Foresthill Divide Road, 14 miles east of Foresthill
530 367-2224

  • 2 adjacent parking lots and Toilets
  • Snowplay areas are not groomed

Granlibakken

725 Granlibakken Road, Tahoe City
800 543-3221

  • Features a groomed snowplay area with rental saucers for sledding

Kingvale Tubing & Sledding Center

Kingvale Exit Off Highway 80, Kingvale
530 426-1600

  • Uses a special groomer called the "Stinger" to carve and maintain five lift-served tubing lanes

Northstar California

15001 Northstar Drive, Truckee
800 466-6784

  • Offers tubing services by two separate tow lifts at mid-mountain just above the Gondola

North Tahoe Regional Park

6600 Donner Road, Tahoe Vista
530 546-4212

  • Sled rentals available

Squaw Valley USA

1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley
530 452-4331 or 800 403-0260

  • Squaw’s tubing park at the Papoose Learning Center offers two tubing lanes for varying thrill levels

Soda Springs

10244 Soda Springs Road, Soda Springs
530 426-3901

  • Sledding lanes, tubing lanes and a Little Dipper children’s area provide a variety of thrill and fun.

Kite Skiing

Royal Gorge X-Country Ski Area

Sierra Snowkite Center
9411 Pahatsi Road, Soda Springs
530 816-0485

  • The Sierra Snowkite Center offers a diverse range of snowkite lessons
  • 250 acre of undulating terrain

Snow Biking

Royal Gorge X-Country Ski Area

9411 Pahatsi Road, Soda Springs
530 426-3871

  • Fleet of fat tire snowbikes are available for rent
  • 10km of snowbiking groomed trails, offering a scenic loop and great workout

Skating Rinks

Northstar California

5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee
800 466-6784

  • Rentals available, Lessons
  • Open Winter Season
  • This 9,000 sq. ft. rink is the center of activity at the heart of the Village at Northstar

Olympic Ice Pavilion

1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley
530 583-6985

  • Rentals available
  • Open year-round
  • Scenic views of Lake Tahoe while skating atop Squaw Valley on Olympic-size rink

Resort at Squaw Creek

400 Squaw Creek Road, Olympic Valley
800 327-3353 or 530 583-6300

  • Rentals available
  • Open Winter Season
  • Skate around the outdoor rink surrounded with the Sierra Nevada range as your backdrop, then warm up with a mug of hot chocolate

Truckee Ice Skating Rink

10500 Brockway Road, Truckee
530 587-6172

  • Rentals available, Group or Private Lessons
  • Open Winter Season
  • This outdoor setting under tall Pines, located in the Truckee River Regional Park, complete with bonfire, overhead lights and music

Dogsled Tours

Wilderness Adventure

530 550-8133

  • Open Winter Season, Daily
  • Out of the Resort at Squaw Creek
  • Husky-driven dogsled tours

Sleigh Rides

Verdi Trails West

775 771-2057 or 530 583-6000

  • Open Winter Season
  • Out of the Resort at Squaw Creek
  • Ride through Squaw Valley Meadow in elegant, hand-crafted open sleighs