California SNO-Parks: SNO many options for dog-friendly fun

By: DogTrekker Staff
2 men and a dog stand in snowy parking lot
Lola, dad Jeff and grandpa Dave, head out for the SNO-Parks.

Here’s a DogTrekker secret: Stories about California SNO-Parks are among our most-read each year! There’s lots to bark about when it comes to these dog-friendly, snow-covered playgrounds scattered on U.S. Forest Service lands throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains. Pick your destination. Reserve your permit ($15 per day or $40 per season for 2023-2024). Arrive early for easy parking and get ready to romp with your furry friend.

California State Parks collaborates with several agencies and community partners to open nearly 20 SNO-Parks each year. Dogs are welcome at these popular winter playgrounds that feature plowed parking areas. Some locations have plowed or groomed trails, too, and prime access to sledding hills, snowshoe paths, cross-country ski trails, snowmobile routes, snow-covered forest landscapes, and open spaces for snowball fights.

SNO-Parks are set between Sierra County and Mammoth Lakes, with several clustered near Lake Tahoe. DogTrekkers love Blackwood Canyon, three miles south of Tahoe City on the lake’s north shore, and Echo Lake, on the north side of Highway 50 (not far from Pacific Crest Trail access into Desolation Wilderness). To the south, Rock Creek is a snowmobile-free spot for cross-country skiing and other adventures.

Here are some suggestions for a smooth SNO-Park experience.

  • The SNO-Park season typically runs from November through May. You must purchase a permit before visiting a SNO-Park. California State Parks shares preferred vendors and a link to purchase permits online.
  • Parking at popular SNO-Parks like Hope Valley and Huntington Lake fills up fast, so arrive early.
  • Winter conditions can change quickly. Always check road and weather updates before you travel.
  • Please follow DogTrekker’s Leave Only Paw Prints values. Pack in and out, leave only boot and paw prints, and protect our precious natural lands.

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