Located at Timber Creek below Chair 7, the park operates on weekends and holidays from 12:30pm weather permitting. Children must weigh under 125lbs and have a release signed by a parent or guardian to participate. Tickets can be bought at the park or at the Tahoe Learning Center Sales Desk.
Are your kids enthralled by vehicles? Do they weigh under 125 lbs? Do you have $15? Stop by the base of Timber Creek (to the left of the stairways up to the lodge and near chair 7) and your kids can ride mini youth-sized snowmobiles. After I filled out a waiver form, my 8 year old donned a helmet and hopped onto one of the youth-sized Polaris 120 assault snowmobiles. After receiving some brief instructions from the attendant he was off to the races. My son's prior vehicle driving experience had been driving the untethered electric cars at Legoland. The operation of the snowmobile is fairly simple: throttle on the right handlebar, brake on the left.
The track is a small oval sized track marked by cones and hay bales. Part of the track sloped slightly down the hill, but the gradation was gradual. We rode snowmobiles at Thunder Mountain after a full day of snowboarding and it was a blast. My son had so much fun that he didn't want to get off the track, so despite the cold we rode until it closed (it was almost closing time already). The hours are 11:00AM - 4:00PM on weekends and holidays. My 6 year old could have ridden, but was a little timid, so I tried it out to see what it was like in lieu of him. The turns can actually be quite tight and if you have it on full throttle and are too big (like me when I tried it - though generally adults don't really fit on the small snowmobiles) you can tip it over. That being said, the youth snowmobiles are quite light and come with safety tethers that you connect to your wrist. In the event that you get separated from the snowmobile, the tether will cut off the engine. I don't think it's dangerous, but like any vehicle that you pilot yourself it has inherent risks.
When I watched other kids riding there were no more than 2 snowmobiles on the track at any one time. It can be fun to "race" siblings or friends on the track. The small track is supervised by one person who provides brief instructions and ensures that everyone is safe on the track. The person will come help you if you get stuck on the track as well.
$15 for 15 minutes of fun isn't the greatest value for money in my mind, I mean you could spend $20 on two movie tickets instead or buy 3 burritos. However, I found the value in the uniqueness of the experience (since we don't live in a snow area, snowmobiles aren't transportation to us like they are for some). The smiles from my kids were wonderful to see, both from my son who was riding and my son who was watching us ride. We even got some fun photos from my 6 year old of us (I gave him my phone to take photos) as he watched from the sidelines.
Disclosure: We received complementary tickets to ride the Thunder Mountain Kids Snowmobile track from Kirkwood for the purposes of this review. My opinions are entirely my own.