Soda Springs Snow Park is a small ski hill with only 2 chair lifts. For kids 7 and up, group lessons packages are available and include 1 1/2 hour lesson, rentals and lift ticket for just $60.
Soda Springs also has "Tube Town", a tubing hill with 6 lanes and a brand new 320' moving carpet is designed to escalate you up the mountain just like a walking people mover at the airport (except in the snow). Snow tubes are provided. Personal tubes and sleds are not permitted. Kids must be at least 42" to ride the tubing hill. $20 for all ages.
Planet Kids is an area for kids 8 and under that has a magic carpet for beginning skiers and snowboarders, another magic carpet for little kids tubing, and a tube carousel. Entry to Planet Kids includes ski/board rentals and cost $25. Private one on one lessons for 1/2 hour are available at Planet Kids for children 8 and under for an additional $25.
Mini-snowmobiles area also available that kids 6 and up can ride around a track. These sell out on busy weekends.
Kids ages 6-12 - can hop on their very own pint-sized snowmobile and try out the sport of snowmobiling - kid style. Soda offers a circular track to contain our little drivers and helmets are provided. $10 for 10 laps.
Love this place for young kids. Planet Kids is:
- Inexpensive ($25/kid)
- Fun (tubing and skiing down bunny hills)
- Not too bad in terms of accessibility because they run a "sleigh" between the main lodge and Planet Kids
- Private lessons for just the right price ($25) and for just the right amount of time (30 minutes)
This is best for beginners. The instructors are great at helping both tentative and eager beginners get excited about skiing, have fun, and feel accomplished. After skiing with the instructors here, both our adventurous 3 year old and cautious 6 year old decided that skiing is one of their most fun activities that they had ever done.
Major caveat - I am not a skier and have only been to a handful of ski areas in Tahoe so I am not comparing it against world-class ski resorts.
This is where we head during ski season now that we have a 3 yr old daughter. The price is very reasonable and my daughter loves the snow park. She love going on the tubes and building snowmen. My husband and I take turns skiing/snowboarding and playing with her.
This review is for the Planet Kids portion of Soda Springs Resort.
A visit to Planet Kids is wonderful for children under 5 years old. Both our 4 year old and 14 month old daughters loved it. The toddler had a blast on the gentle tubing hill as well as the tube/carousel thing.
Pros: Separate kiddie area with its own equipment rental station right next to the slopes.
Inexpensive considering it includes ski and or snowboard rental.
Fun magic carpets bring kids up the hill
It is a long walk from the parking lot to planet kids. Depending on where you park, I would say its a good 1/2mile (though with whiny kids, it seems much much longer). I would definitely bring a cheap plastic sled to haul your paraphernalia or tired toddlers (these are contraband, but I would sneak it in anyway).
Tickets are sold at the same counter as the regular lift tickets, which means lines can be very long- a pain if you have kids with you.
The kids rental hut smells like old socks and cat pee. Nothing more I care to say about that.
There are absolutely no concessions near planet kids. Not even a soda machine. Bring your own water and snacks for the kids or else you will have to walk 1/2 mile to the main lodge for nasty cafeteria food.
Despite the numerous deficiencies, planet kids at soda springs still scores points for the down-home atmosphere and gentle kiddie area. It is a totally low-pressure and inexpensive way to put your kids on skis for the first time. Not great for creature comforts, but perfect for a few hours on a weekday.
Soda Springs is unlike most of the ski resorts that I have been to. It is a small no frills mountain with unbeatable pricing. If your family isn't serious about hitting the slopes and mom and dad are happy to spend the day coaching their beginner skier for a bargain, Soda Springs might be just what you are looking for.
SKIING AT SODA SPRINGS
Since the mountain itself only has 2 lifts with beginner to moderate runs, don't come to Soda Springs expecting to have an epic day of skiing. Adults come here for the bargain lift tickets - $35/adult and $25/kids. The lines are short and runs are easy, so if you just want to do half a day of skiing, this is a decent stop. They do have a rental shop and group lessons for 7 and up. There is also a small dining room, but that's about it. The resort as a whole has a home spun feel about it.
PLANET KIDS AT SODA SPRINGS
For kids 8 and under who are just starting to venture onto skis, Planet Kids is worth a visit. In my opinion, it's really better for kids 6 and under. For just $25, you can spend an hour or two on skis, ride the tube carousel and tube down the pee wee tubing hill complete with magic carpet. Ski or board rentals are even included in the $25 entrance fee. Now, if you’re expecting to just drop off your kids and hit the slopes, you’ll be disappointed. Planet Kids is for parents who want to spend the day with their kids, coaching them through their first few experiences on skis or a snowboard. There are very few ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe Area that offer a magic carpet learning area where parents are welcome to use if they choose to teach their own child to ski or board. The area was filled with parents, shouting “Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! Now French Fries!” It was heartwarming to see families spending time together. However, I must say that the kids did seem to be a lot more whiny around their parents than at a drop off type of ski school (yes, mine were no exception) and parents do seem to be a lot less patient with their kids than well-trained ski instructors.
The pee wee tubing hill also had a magic carpet although it’s a fairly short run that my 4 and 6 year old were happy to run up. We were only told later that they aren’t allowed to run up the hill – oops! Nonetheless, this was probably the best part about Planet Kids. Our 4 year old did not want to leave. He also spent about ½ hour riding the tube carousel and would probably have sat in it all day if he could.
If you know exactly what to expect of Planet Kids and are prepared, it can be a fun way to spend 3-4 hours. So, here are my tips.
1) Arrive early - the rental shop at Planet Kids is very chaotic and only got worse throughout the day. They open at 10am.
2) Bring a big bag to put your children's snow boots into after you change into ski/board boots. There are no lockers and there are a lot of people around who could accidentally or intentionally take your stuff that is left lying around. You have to carry everything with you. Including your kid who refuses to walk in his ski boots. (I’m speaking from experience here)
3) Have a 1:1 adult to child ratio in your party – a child who is a beginning skier really needs to have an adult with them the whole time. Managing two kids who were learning at a different pace plus carrying all their gear was a bit much for me. I got very grumpy when my husband left to hit the slopes.
4) Potty before heading to Planet Kids - It's a hike from the main building out to planet kids and there are only porta-potties at Planet Kids. They are outdoors. Both were a mess when we had to use them around 2pm. If you can avoid using them, I would. If you have a child who can't hold it for very long, I highly recommend pull ups for the day. Bring antibacterial wipes too. There is no water at all nearby.
5) Bring a picnic lunch - if you're staying through lunch at Soda Springs, please note that the dining room is pretty far from Planet Kids, especially for little feet. You also can’t take any of the ski equipment out of Planet Kids and you really don’t want to stand in the rental line twice in one day. It’s best to bring a picnic along. There are a few little tables and chairs you can have kids sit at, but a small waterproof mat to sit on would not be a bad idea. It can be a place to rest if your little one needs a break too.
6) Bring an extra dose of patience – although we were told that there are ski instructors available to help your beginning skiers and snowboarders at Planet Kids, we really didn’t see any instructors working with kids unless they were giving a private lesson ($25 extra for 1/2 hour). Kids were mostly working with their parents and frankly, most parents make poor coaches. So, be mentally prepared to be super patient and encouraging so that your child’s first ski experience is lot of fun.
7) Bring a thermos of hot cocoa – there is no shelter whatsoever at Planet Kids. On a warm day that’s perfectly fine, but on a cold day, your kids will need something to help warm them up. You can’t even get a cup of water out at Planet Kids.
TUBING AT SODA SPRINGS
The large tubing hill at Soda Springs is called Tube Town. I took our 6 year old and we had a ton of fun. The hill was nicely groomed with walls between each lane and a few bumps along the way. The price is a bargain at $20 for the WHOLE day. This is the biggest attraction at Soda Springs. The magic carpet was really great because it saved us the long hike up the hill. If you are coming for the tubing, I recommend, just focusing on tubing for a few hours and not try to ski or visit Planet Kids. All riders on each lane launch off at the same time and have to wait till the previous group clears the bottom. From the time I got my hands on a tube till the time I launched off was about 20 minutes. If you aren’t rushing off to another activity, it’s not a big deal. The tubes were in good condition. All in all, it was lots of fun at a great price.
*This review is based on complimentary lift tickets, Planet Kids and tube town entrance. I received no other compensation and the owner did not express any requirements that I express a particular point of view.
Just returned from mid-week trip to Reno with a stop at Soda Springs. Thought that there would be little to no line for tubing (older kids - there are height limits so doublecheck your kids beforehand) but it took 20 minutes for a 30 second tube ride! The toddlers' section was great and very age-appropriate for the 4 and under crowd, but you have to buy a separate ticket to get into that area AND better bring another pair of hands if you have kids who want to go to different areas. My kids are 2, 4, and 6 and the two older ones wanted to go tubing; youngest was too short to do tubing and so my partner and I had to split up the whole day. The kids had a great time BUT I think that until the kids are all old enough to be in the same area of the park, it's probably not worth the money and we'll be doing some sledding/tubing outside of a pay-for-play area. Also, keep in mind that adults/chaperones must have a lift ticket for the tubing area or the more rigid staffpersons at Soda Springs won't even let you accompany your kids up to the start of the tubing area - you end up bored & waiting at the bottom like some of the parents/guardians that I saw.
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