We visited South Lake Tahoe during the holidays with our two small kids. Since we rarely go to the snow and didn't want to start ski or snowboard lessons, we looked for a place that had sledding and snow play. The closest resorts, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Heavenly, both had areas for kids but we were hesitant to pay the high prices since we had no idea how long the kids would last in the snow. Adventure Mountain was perfect for us because of the low cost, location and kid-friendly atmosphere.
It's a short drive from the south shore of Lake Tahoe to Echo Summit on Highway 50. However, both times we went, there was a line of cars waiting to get in from both directions of Highway 50. It's especially difficult making the left turn to the Adventure Mountain entrance because there is no light, stop sign or traffic control. Get there early! Once we reached the one payment window, we handed over our credit card to pay the $25 entrance fee and were told it was cash only. Thankfully we had the cash, but they really should put a notice on the outside of the payment booth to speed things along. The parking lot was almost full when we got there at 10:30 a.m. (opened at 9:00 a.m.). We arrived at 9:30 a.m. the second day and got a nice close parking spot.
If you bring your own sleds, start sledding! If not, they rent two person sleds and saucers for $10/day and tubes for $20/half day or $25/full day, plus security deposit. They also rent snowshoes and poles.
There were 7 sledding runs open the days we went, but they open more when the snow level is deeper. They ranged from short and gentle to fairly steep and fast. There are no "magic carpets", so you have to climb up the hill after each run, but it was no big deal for us. Sometimes there was a 10-15 minute wait at the top, while other times (noticeably during the noon-time lunch rush) there was no wait at all. There is not much of an employee presence on the runs, just one or two at the top making sure the hill was clear between sledders. I usually stationed myself at the middle of the run while my husband loaded the kids into the sled and pushed them down. When they didn't make it all the way down I'd tell them to rush down or go off to the side so they didn't get hit by the next sledder. I noticed the tubes went down the runs much slower than the sleds and saucers. The kids had a blast going down the various runs.
There are plenty of areas where the kids can just relax, make snow angels and build snowmen. The kids built a snowman in a wooded area and when we came back the next day, he was still there! We also had a few snowball fights, as did lots of the other visitors. The snow at Tahoe is incredibly light and airy.
Bring sunglasses and sunscreen, the snow is bright on sunny days!
We had a voucher for snowshoe rentals at our cabin, so we brought them up to Adventure Mountain. There are trails for snowshoeing, but we just found an area near a frozen stream where the snow was extra deep and started walking. It was a short walk through fluffy snow and a fun way to end the day.
CAFE and LODGE
The Lodge is a roomy area with large round tables, a fireplace and restrooms. The cafe has standard fare like hot dogs, chili, nachos, hot chocolate, Cup o' Noodles, pizza and soda. I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable the prices were for the food, and had no problem buying lunch at the cafe both days. There are picnic tables outside the Lodge and you can bring in your own food; some people even brought in little grills. I also saw a birthday party going on in one of the private rooms inside the lodge.
Overall we had a fabulous time at Adventure Mountain. We will probably be back, at least until the kids want to start skiing or snowboarding!
Sure there are sledding areas located closer to South Lake Tahoe but they are costly and they come with time limitations. If you’re willing to drive a short distance, an affordable and fun alternative awaits at the top of Echo Summit.
Adventure Mountain is open 7 days a week, weather permitting, and for a mere $18 PER CAR (not per person), you and your family can all ride the sled hill all day long.
Adventure Mountain has groomed sledding runs that are perfect for sledding, tubing and saucer fun. Bring your own sled or rent a sled or tube after you arrive at the park.