Easy access to areas where you can sled, ski and snowshoe without paying a fee can be difficult to find—unless you take advantage of the Sno-Parks program operated by California State Parks in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, CalTrans and various community organizations.
The program provides access to plowed parking areas in 19 Sno-Park locations in the Sierra Nevada, most of them in the Tahoe Basin. Some lots are merely places to ditch your vehicle while you bushwhack into the woods, but many offer access to groomed cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, snowmobile trails, and sledding hills for families. Daily permits, $5, or seasonal permits, $25, are available online, and you can also buy them from vendors in the Bay Area, at Tahoe and along the Interstate 80 and Highway 50 corridors. Rover is allowed to romp at any Sno-Park area, although officially, he must be on a leash.