You spend a lot of time and gas money getting to Lake Tahoe, so why waste more circling for a place to park? During a winter like this one, the prime spots at snow-play areas are gone by 9 a.m….unless you’ve had the foresight to purchase a Sno-Parks permit.
The Sno-Parks program, operated by California State Parks in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, CalTrans and various community organizations, provides access to plowed lots at 18 Sierra Nevada locations, 12 of them in the Tahoe Basin. Some Sno-Parks are merely places to park your vehicle while you take to the woods on skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles, but many offer access to groomed trails and sledding hills for families.
Prices have not been raised for the 2012-2013 season. Daily permits, $5, or seasonal permits, $25, are available online, and you can also buy them from outdoor retailers in the Bay Area or Sacramento, at Tahoe and along the Interstate 80 and Highway 50 corridors. Rover is allowed to romp at any Sno-Park, although officially he must be on a leash in developed areas.
Planning a winter road trip? Your California Sno-Parks permit is also valid in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, where similar programs are in effect.