You spend a lot of time and gas money getting to Lake Tahoe, so why spend more time and money circling (or paying) for a place to park? In mid-winter, prime spots at snow-play areas are gone by 9 a.m….unless you’ve had the foresight to purchase a Sno-Park permit. What’s that, you ask?
Sno-Parks are parking areas plowed and maintained in winter to allow visitors to park safely and pursue winter activities such as sledding, cross-county skiing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding and plain, old-fashioned snowman building. Some also serve as trailheads for snowmobiling, and all have sanitation facilities.
Eighteen official Sno-Parks, 12 of them in the Tahoe Basin, are scattered up and down the Sierra Nevada. Permit prices haven’t changed in a decade: it’s $5 for a one-day permit or $25 for a seasonal pass good November through May. You can purchase online, order by mail or buy at ski and sports shops throughout the state. The program is operated by California State Parks in conjunction with the USDA Forest Service, CalTrans and various community organizations.
Some Sno-Parks are merely places to park your vehicle while you and the kids engage in snow play or kick-and-glide into the woods, but many offer access to groomed ski/snowshoe trails and sledding hills for families. They’re all dog-friendly, but wait until you’re well away from the parking area to cut your dog off-leash.