Access to the 500-foot Heaven Hill is provided by a covered "magic carpet". (Vail/Heavenly Resorts)
Snow, snow and more snow. Tahoe's mountain resorts saw record snowfall in January — but you don't have to be a skier or snowboarder to enjoy it. If you have children or grandchildren - or are a child at heart - you can slide down the slides, abseil or go sledding at any of the dozens of locations around the lake.
Opportunities have exploded over the last few years, especially when it comes to prepared tubing routes with a tow rope or moving lanes (i.e. "moving carpets") so that participants can get to the top of the hill without having to hike.
From Disco Tubing at Palisades Tahoe to Sugar Rush Tubing at Sugar Bowl, Tahoe offers 10 different types of groomed tubing tracks, a covered moving carpet, and an intricate play area for little ones. Old-fashioned offerings are available in smaller resorts such as Granlibakken Tahoe, which has been attracting snow lovers since the 1920s. And Soda Springs goes all out with Planet Kids, featuring a children's hill, tube merry-go-round, and a free playground.
Tubing at luxury resorts can be expensive (see below), but there are plenty of ways to enjoy the snow without a budget. Most resorts offer snow play areas for children under 42 inches tall. On some you can BYO a tube, sledge or saucer. Just remember that you may have to buy tickets online in advance.
Here's where to get a slide in the Lake Tahoe area:
Tubing at the resort
sugar bowl:The new Sugar Rush Tubing, located near the base of Mount Judah, offers two-hour tubing sessions for $40 (tubs included) and two-hour snow sessions for $20. The 10 tube routes are 625 feet long and are accessed via a covered magic carpet; blast your way from the "green circle" warm-up tracks to the "black diamond" roller coasters. The snow playground for motorcycles up to 42 inches high includes a tubular merry-go-round, mini snowboards and other equipment. Sweet treats that match the theme are available on site. Open from Friday to Sunday and during "ski week" (February 20-26); reservations are recommended.www.sugarbowl.com/tubing
Boreal/Woodward/Sodium Springs:Boreal, the first visible resort on Highway 80 (near Donner Summit), was one of the first to venture into family tubing fun. Its three to eight (depending on conditions) TahoeTubing routes are accessible by moving carpet and are open daily, weather permitting. The cost is $54 on weekdays, $59 on weekends for a 90-minute session; advance booking required. At sister resort Soda Springs Mountain Resort, just six minutes away, Planet Kids and Tube Town cater to non-skiers, families new to the snow, and young children. Amenities include sleigh rides, children's inner tubes, a children's ski/snowboard area, aerial carousel, and a snow playground, all available with the $54 or $59 Mountain Adventure Pass.rideboreal.com,skisodasprings.com
Donner Ski Ranch:Known as one of the most affordable ski resorts in the region, Donner Ski Ranch has tubing hills that are perfect for kids and adults alike. Pipes are provided as well as a moving carpet to transport guests to the top of the hill. The cost is $35 for a two-hour session or $29 on old school days (Tuesday-Thursday).donnerskiranch.com
Kurorty w Vail:You'll find the Northstar Tubular Hill in the village behind the Overlook bar, where the family can buy sets of s'mores and roast marshmallows around the fires. Tubing tickets cost $26, the cable car takes you up the hill, and the tubers can slide down singly or in a row;NorthstarCalifornia.com.
In South Lake Tahoe, near the top of the gondola is the 500-meter Heavenly Tubular Hill (with a 65-meter drop) accessed by a covered "magic carpet". Epic Pass required to access (epicpass.com) or a sightseeing ticket. A regular tube costs $44; mini-tubing (children under 42 inches) costs $32. Equipment provided. Open daily; tickets must be purchased on the day of use.skiheavenly.com
Palisades Tahoe:Find this pipe location in the SnoVentures activity area to the left of the main car park near the bottom of the Far East chairlift. A covered magic carpet leads kids (and adventurous adults!) to the top, where there are five groomed trails. On some nights there is a "tubbing disco" with a light show and music projected on the slope. The tube is $42 on weekdays and $52 on weekends and off dates for a 55-minute session. Both adult and pediatric tubes are supplied. No ski boots please. Ikon Pass holders can slide down the slide free of charge on Thursdays.www.palisadestahoe.com
Sierra at Tahoe:Not only has Sierra reopened its skiing and snowboarding operations, it has also opened a family-friendly tubing, sledding and snowplay spot at Blizzard Mountain, located off Highway 50 leading to the resort. Two crane-accessible tube rides (a tow rope is attached to the tube and pulls it to the top of the hill) are available Friday through Monday for $60 to $65 for a 90-minute session. Tubing is included, as is all-day access to the snowhouse where kids can build snowmen, snow angels, and slide down the landscaped mini-hill (BYO or rent/purchase sleds).sierrattahoe.com
Thunder from Tahoe:This quiet residential neighborhood near Truckee is famous for its cross-country skiing center, but also has a downhill skiing area that offers snow play opportunities, including two supervised tubing trails, six unsupervised tobogganing trails, and a snow playground. No towing uphill - gotta go! Open Friday-Sunday. Tickets are $25-$30 (equipment included), but kids play for free. Mandatory online bookings.tahoedonner.com
Granlibakken Tahoe:This expansive conference center and lodging facility on 73 acres on Tahoe's West Shore is well known for its open access hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in the Paige Meadows backcountry area. It also has a toboggan hill with two adjacent slopes; a gentle hill for smaller children and a steeper hill that appeals to all ages. (BYO sleigh or saucer; equipment rental also available). Fees are $25 weekdays, $35 weekends, and half-price guest sleds.granlibakken.com
More places to move
Tahoe City Winter Sports Park:This popular park offers snowshoe trails, cross-country ski trails, ice skating, and a toboggan run, all close to the shores of Lake Tahoe. Admission to the toboggan run (snow saucers provided) is $15.tcpud.org
Adventure Mountain:This private, family-friendly park is a tubing and snow play mecca off Highway 50 near Echo Summit. Fees ($40 weekdays, $45 weekends and holidays, cash only) are per vehicle and include parking and use of the snow court. A two-hour tubing lesson costs $20 for adults and $15 for children.sierrasnowplay.com
Hansenovo brdo Snow Tube Hill:On Ski Run Boulevard, between the Heavenly Mountain Resort and the lake, Hansen's charges $40 for an hour-long session that includes the use of a tube or saucer. 400 foot trails are groomed daily and there is a hiking trail off to the side.hansensresort.com
Spooner Summit Snowfield:On the East Coast, at the intersection of Highways 50 and 58, this playground offers both steep and gentle terrain, but no elevators or restrooms. BYO gear and don't forget to take it home! It's free but can get crowded on weekends.gotahonorth.com
California SNO Parks:Looking for a really good deal on snowshoes, snowshoes, cross country skiing and even dog sledding? California's 18 SNO-Parks - most in the Tahoe area - provide cleared parking spaces and plenty of opportunities for non-motorized activities. Permits cost $15 per day or $40 in season, available from local vendors;ohv.parks.ca.gov.
Whether you're experienced or new to the snow, check out the Ski California Mountain Safety Guide before you go - find it atsafety.skicalifornia.org— and remember to wear snow boots, insulated snow pants, and warm, layered clothing.
Originally published onJanet Fullwood, korespondent