While some visitors to the Tahoe slopes envision themselves as the next Lindsey Vonn or Shaun White, many of us really just want to sit on our butts and fly down a mountain. It's a good thing there are several great places to go tubing or sledding up in Lake Tahoe — and some of them are free.
Adventure Mountain (Tubing Free, Parking Fee of $20)
The Adventure Mountain sledding and tubing resort is located at the top of Echo Summit on Highway 50 near Sierra-at-Tahoe, and contains nearly 40 acres of groomed sledding and snow-play goodness. The resort has sixteen machine groomed sledding and tubing runs, and you can rent or purchase tubes or bring your own. The parking lot is close to the park and they also have a concession stand and a day use lodge with a fireplace and great views of the mountains. They also offer a beginner snowboard hill, but there are no lifts to the tops of the runs.
Northstar-at-Tahoe ($30 for the first hour)
The Northstar tubing hill is located mid-mountain near the express lift and contains a 200 yard long groomed tube slide that is J-shaped with three whoops. Tubers are taken by a tow lift to the top of the hill, so there's no hiking back up. The hill is open Monday through Friday from 12 - 4 pm and Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 am - 4 pm. The resort supplies the tubes.
Heavenly Tubing Hill ($32 per person for the Gondola, $30 an hour tubing)
If you want to tube at the top of the world, take the Heavenly Gondola to the Heavenly tubing hill. Their park has four lanes that are 500 feet long and have a 65-foot vertical drop. They are open every day from 11 am to 3 pm.
Tahoe Donner (Members: $5, Guest: $12, Public $16)
One of the local's favorite ski resorts has a place for the kid-at-heart. Tahoe Donner on I-80 has a groomed sledding hill with two monitored tubing lanes and six unmonitored sledding lanes. If you are a Tahoe Donner member, the tubing area only costs $5, and spectators are free. Tahoe Donner rents plastic sleds or you can bring your own tube. This place rocks so much that they also offer an outdoor fire pit and hot cocoa. If your butt gets cold, you can rent a pair of snowshoes for $7.50 for two hours.
Mount Rose Meadows (Free)
One of the favorite local places to go tubing or sledding is on the death-defying hills around the Mount Rose Meadows at the top of the Mount Rose Highway (Highway 341). There are numerous hills near the highway where you can carve out your own run. The best ones are on the south side of the highway near the meadow's public restroom. The tubing and the parking is free, but get there before 10 am before the area fills up. This is a very popular place for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling as well.