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We just got back from our first-ever family trip to Tahoe! Chris was snowboarding at Northstar and we were staying in Incline Village. The only question left was where could we find the best free sledding in Tahoe?
The answer turned out to be a little more complicated then I hoped. Since there hasn’t been much snow yet this year, the free sledding options in Tahoe are limited. We first checked out the North Tahoe Regional Park but found the snow to be icy and thin. The park ranger and the greeter at North Star both recommended that we check out the sledding hill on Mount Rose Highway (Highway 431) but neither were able to give specific directions. Since I am famous for getting lost, I set off with great trepidation.
Fortunately, I didn’t need more specific directions then they provided! Just get on 431 towards Reno and eventually you’ll find it! The drive from Northstar ended up being exactly 30 minutes. The hill can be quite popular and it had plenty of snow even though North Lake Tahoe didn’t have much.
You’ll know you’ve arrived by the cars parked along both sides of the highway. The sledding hill stops right before the road, so there is no walking to get to the bottom of the hill. I was a little concerned about the kids sledding right into the road and twice they came close but stopped a few feet short. If you teach your children to slow themselves down with their feet, you should have no problem at all. This was my first time really sledding, so it took me a while to catch on to the mechanics!
We went to Disneyland a few weeks ago and the kids kept comparing sledding to various rides at Disney! K would say “That was sure a wild ride, like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride!” After a few rides, the kids figured out they could go a lot faster if they kicked me off and after that, I spent my time chasing them down the hill instead of sledding with them!
It was warm so we started shedding hats and gloves after only a couple runs. We kept our bibs and jackets on so we would stay dry.
The hill was crowded (what else would you expect from free sledding in Tahoe?), but we never had to wait more than a few seconds for our turn to sled. People naturally spread themselves across the hill and you just had to be on aware so you didn’t end up flattened!
Since this free sledding spot is still about 12 minutes outside Incline Village, I had to balance our need for lunch with our fun sledding. They could easily have continued for a total of 2-3 hours, but they remember it more fondly for having to leave at the peak of their fun! We joined Chris at Northstar Village for lunch and then retired for nap time.
The next day we only had a bit of time so we checked out the North Tahoe Regional Park sledding hill and it was a totally different experience. The snow was too icy and there were rocks at the bottom of the hill. I ended up tackling the kids to stop them from going into the rocks and pulled a muscle in my arm! Plus traumatized the children probably. So even though it’s close free sledding in Tahoe, I would recommend avoiding the North Tahoe Regional Park unless there has been a lot of nice fluffy white snow. Even then, be aware of the path your kids are taking and teach them how to slow themselves down or eject at the last minute. Tackling is not something I recommend.
By the way, I picked up the kids ski bibs and jackets at a local consignment shop the day before we hit the slopes! I highly recommend shopping used for your kid’s snow gear, since they’ll have grown out of it by next winter! When you combine second-hand snow gear and free sledding in Tahoe, you get a super fun but very affordable vacation!
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