FREE North Lake Tahoe Sledding–Tahoe Meadows

Don't tell anyone! This is a locals place for FREE sledding and snowshoeing in North Lake Tahoe with a year-round restroom.
Don’t tell anyone! This is a locals place for FREE sledding and snowshoeing. It even has a restroom!

Since the carful of kids live in Central Texas and love to play in the snow, we pack in all the snow play we can over their winter break. We divide our precious time by skiing, ice skating and the family favorite, sledding.

You can sled at a ski resort where they will rent you a saucer or tube and possibly haul you up their hill with their magic carpet lift and that’s fun. Though the carful of kids really love the nostalgic charm of finding a perfect hill in a national forest for the perfect ride.

It seems finding a perfect sledding hill is part of the allure. My boys look at the terrain and go for a feature that excites them. I look for facilities that families need, namely a safe place to park and year-round bathrooms.

That is a year-round bathroom and it's the best family feature in a FREE sledding hill. Lake Tahoe, Free sledding,
That is a year-round bathroom and it’s the best family feature in a FREE sledding hill.

To find a favorite sled hills, I look national forests. With features like designated parking and a year-round restrooms, I find search for FREE sledding hills near popular ski areas, like Santa Fe and Lake Tahoe.

Since Lake Tahoe has great snow the carful of kids have to enjoy it. It would be great to ski every day, my body and wallet just can’t do it. So for the days when the carful of kids need to sleep in a little, I plan a snow play day.

Tahoe Meadows


The carful of kids usually bring along three types of sleds or toboggans.
The carful of kids usually bring along three types of sleds or toboggans.

The carful of kids stay in a condo in Incline Village so we concentrate on sledding areas that are close by. Not far away, the Mt. Rose Highway (Nevada Highway 431) winds through part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, connecting Lake Tahoe with Reno. The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is the largest national forest in the lower 48 according to the National Forest Service and protects the majority of land around Lake Tahoe.

The Mt. Rose Highway is a Nevada scenic byway that should not be missed for the scenic overlooks. It’s the highest year-round pass across the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range with a 8,911-foot summit. Along the Mt. Rose Highway is the Mt. Rose Ski Resort that’s popular with skiers from the West Coast and Reno.

Snow so deep in Lake Tahoe, she can dig a giant hole. Free Sledding in Lake Tahoe
With snow so deep that my 13-year-old can dig a giant hole.

About seven miles southwest of Mt. Rose Ski Resort is Tahoe Meadows, a year-round outdoor destination. It’s just pass the Mt. Rose Summit headed down into Incline Village.

With several areas to use in Tahoe Meadows and the adjacent Mt. Rose Summit find one that fits your family’s needs. Some areas offer off-highway parking like the Mt. Rose Summit area and some don’t. This area can get congested during weekends and school breaks but there’s plenty of room to explore once you park your car.

Need a place to snow play for the afternoon. How about a free place? I'm sharing my favorite Free place to sled in Lake Tahoe with kids.

The Tahoe Rim Trail Head

The Tahoe Rim Trail Head area is the only area to offer off-highway parking and a year-round bathroom. The bathroom at Mt. Rose Summit is seasonal though it has a nice parking area.

This area gets passed up because you can’t see the perfect sledding terrain or the bathroom from the highway. The hill starts near the parking area and slopes away from the highway, keeping the kids safe.

Every Mom needs a place to take the kids to have some FREE fun in the snow.
Every Mom needs a place to take the kids to have some FREE fun in the snow.

Depending on what type of sled or toboggan you use and the condition of the snow, I have seen kids go forever. The carful of kids love the freedom to dig in the snow and make terrain features. In a good year, the snow is quite deep and I have sunk to my hip so you need to be a little careful with the younger kids.

The parking area is plowed fairly frequently and I prefer this area over the more popular sledding area father south. The carful of kids can spend several hours frolicking in the snow and racing each other down the hill without running into other kids.

More Fun in Tahoe Meadows

The Tahoe Meadows area is a very popular for hiking year-round. So when the snow starts to pile up, hikers grab their snowshoes to explore. The family dog is a frequent visitor as well.

If you own a snowmobile, there’s designated snowmobile parking farther south along Hwy 431. Arrive early for the best parking in this area, it’s limited.

Some skiers even use this area for backcountry skiing. Though it is more common to see cross-country skiers in Tahoe Meadows.

There's one way down the hill; the carful of kids can't get enough of the deep snow in Lake Tahoe. Free sledding,
There’s one way down the hill; the carful of kids can’t get enough of the deep snow in Lake Tahoe.

To play for hours in the snow without the carful of kids complaining, the Mom is prepared. I pack Hot Hands for everyone in my snack bag and take a thermos with hot water. The temperature is 10F to 15F colder in Tahoe Meadows than at Lake Tahoe, so dress accordingly.

More Lake Tahoe Fun for Families

Looking for more places to discover in Lake Tahoe? Got a couple of my favorite spots to share.

Mt Rose Meadows for Sledding 

Granlibakken Tahoe 

Northstar Ski Resort 

Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Mt Rose Ski Tahoe 

Diamond Peak Ski Resort 

Then discover a quaint town to spend an afternoon, like Tahoe City.

Know before you go:

  • Bring something to sit on. I have a padded wooden toboggan that I sit on when the carful of kids are playing.
  • The snow in this area can get deep, use care when walking to the bathroom.
  • I use snow shoes to explore though they aren’t required.
  • If you didn’t bring a sled with you, you can purchase sleds in Incline Village at the Raley’s Grocery Store.
  • The speed limit is 25 mph though motorists ignore this especially when coming off the Mt. Rose Summit driving into Incline Village.
  • Be sure to check on road conditions before you head out at, especially the Mt. Rose Pass.




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