By Lindsay Alford
I love the sweet thrill of speeding down the slopes. Let me guess: you’re probably thinking about making powder turns with your fancy skis or snowboard. Not me. I’m talking about the exhilaration of flying down a mountain on my tube, saucer or toboggan. Sledding always brings out the kid in me, and this kid has a need for speed.
Growing up outside of Chicago, I’m quite familiar with the word “snow.” A sure sign of an awesome snowy winter, in my opinion, is a hill full of children and adults. As a visitor to Lake Tahoe, I have happily found that hills are plentiful in Tahoe South - mellow for the youngsters and steep for adventure seekers like me.
When I was a kid, we used to stack five of us face first on top of a gigantic donut. We were lucky if we made it halfway down the hill. Thinking about it now makes me laugh - I wish I had at least one video of our hilarious wipe outs. My brother and I would race downhill on our saucers; holding on tightly, my brother would always win. Of all the family-friendly winter sports, though, my favorite would have to be tobogganing. The key to speed here is weight distribution – put the lightest person in the front and the heaviest in back for maximum velocity.
Here are my top picks for sledding and tubing in Tahoe South:
A winter vacation isn’t complete until you’ve raced down Thunder Gulch, the tubing hill at Sierra-at-Tahoe (111 Sierra at Tahoe Road, Twin Bridges, CA 95735). Tickets to Thunder Gulch are $20 per person. Bonus: You can sit on your tube while the staff clips you to a tow rope and brings you back up to the top of the hill. It’s a timesaver, and a great way to squeeze in a few extra runs.
Another option is the snow tube and saucer hill at Hansen’s Resort (1360 Ski Run Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150). It’s a smaller area and well groomed for speed. Ages 5 and up, the cost is $15 hourly/per person. The cost includes the use of tube and/or saucer. Cabin guests ride unlimited for free.
Heavenly’s Adventure Peak (3860 Saddle Road, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150) offers a rad, high-altitude groomed tubing hill for adults and children at the top of the Gondola. It’s $30 for one hour to tube. Snow sledding is available for kids ages 6 and under for $10 hourly. Fees include tube or sled but not the cost of a scenic gondola ride up the mountain. The views at Heavenly make the snow sport worth every penny. Note: A stop at the Gondola mid-station is a must! The panoramic views of Lake Tahoe are breathtaking from there.
Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe (Hwy 50 at Echo Summit, South Lake Tahoe, CA), a former ski area, is also a popular hill for tubing. The parking lot holds about 100 cars and can fill up quickly on weekends. They charge $20 for parking, but sledding (bring your own sled!) is free. They also have sleds, tubes and snowshoes available for rent, and a newly remodeled lodge with café.
At $20 and up per person, family fun day can get pretty darn expensive fast – especially at an hourly rate – and some of the hills take a bit long for little kids to climb. If you have your own sleds and free is in your budget, there’s a great place at the intersection of Highway 50 and 28. It’s a short 15-minute drive from the casino area. Keep in mind, this snow play area is known to attract a heavy crowd on the weekends.
After a long day of sledding, I enjoy grabbing a cup of hot cocoa with my kids at Red Hut Cafe or cozying up to a warm fire with a good book and a glass of red wine. Ah, it’s looking to be a cool, crisp winter in Tahoe South. Isn’t it lovely?
Lindsay is a Nevada resident and blogger. She loves the outdoors and all things Tahoe. She is also a content strategist for Noble Studios, the Nevada digital agency responsible for managing Tahoe South’s digital strategy.
Note: TahoeSouth.com and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority assume no responsibility for your safety in engaging in the aforementioned activities. Just because we survived crazy stunts as kids doesn’t mean it’s safe. Please exercise good judgment and consider risks to personal safety when you (or your kids) do really fun stuff.