If you live in Lake Tahoe or are just visiting, chances are you’ve seen cars lining the roads and sledders on the hills in random places. However, many of the areas that sledders are flocking to are dangerous and even illegal.
Before heading out to play in the snow, it’s important to find legal and safe places.
South Lake Tahoe California Highway Patrol has received numerous calls for vehicles parking illegally and blocking roads, people trespassing on private property and pedestrians walking into busy roads.
Since the first snow of the season, which was around mid-November, CHP has issued 532 parking citations. There have been 39 traffic collisions and, just this past weekend on Jan. 17, CHP issued 58 citations with 114 citations issued and towed 5 vehicles.
“This weekend was by far the worst,” said Public Information and Media Relations Officer Ruth Loehr.
Loehr said that one of the main problems is that people are not paying attention to the signage or don’t care.
“The problem is that once you tow one vehicle, another comes and takes its place,” she said.
Illegal parking citations range from $30-50 while towing citations are $200-$300.
One key area that she pointed out is Emerald Bay, which she says is terrible with traffic and sledders in winter.
However, this year she is seeing something different.
While Emerald Bay is still a crowded area, people have been parking on the side of the highway in Meyers in South Lake Tahoe. Loehr said that people are also parking in neighborhoods, streets and “literally everywhere.”
Other places that have become sledding hazards are U.S. Highway 50 across from the Lake Tahoe Airport. While this area is already posted as private property, it is also extremely dangerous to sledders and motorists.
Another troublesome location is U.S. 50 at Echo Summit along with Sawmill at Lake Tahoe Blvd.
In previous years Sawmill has not been an issue, but this year sledders have decided to recreate in this area. There is no shoulder and no room to safely exit the vehicle.
“There is a lack of respect,” she said. “The blatant disregard is shocking.”
Another officer at the station said that this issue has been progressively getting worse in the last 20 years that he’s been working there.
“Meyers is the worst I’ve seen,” Loehr said.
Loehr says this is an issue all around the lake and along with it, people are leaving behind tons of trash.
“Pick up your trash. Pack it in, then pack it out,” she said. “There is zero concern for the environment and zero concern for the people who have to pick it up.”
Over the state line in Nevada, NHP Public Information Officer Hannah DeGoey said that they have been seeing similar actions.
“It’s never a good idea to sled directly towards a busy highway,” DeGoey said in an email.
She said that one of the areas that causes numerous traffic issues is Sheep Flats which is known as the sledding area over Mt. Rose Highway Summit.
In early January, a child was struck by a vehicle at this location.
“The visitors to these sledding areas need to park appropriately; when your tires are over the solid white lane line, you’re technically parked in the roadway. One of the primary violations we issue citations for in this area is NRS 484B.450 [illegal stopping, standing, or parking on a roadway]. This creates serious congestion, prevents the normal flow of traffic, and hinders response times for emergency vehicles (especially if there’s a sledding mishap),” she said.
DeGoey says that NHP also has seen increased pedestrian traffic crossing the highway without any regard for approaching vehicles creating an extremely hazardous situation.
“If you’re going to utilize these sledding areas, please park legally, watch out for vehicles, and pick up your trash,” said DeGoey.
Stick to the safe, legal places to sled:
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
Family-owned, Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe offers machine groomed sledding, tubing, and snow play on Echo Summit. They offer up to 18 machine groomed sledding or tubing lanes for every level.
For more information, visit http://adventuremountaintahoe.com/.
Sierra-at-Tahoe offers their own Blizzard Mountain which includes two lift-accessible snow tubing lanes, an expanded snow play, sledding area that allows both kids and adults. For more information, visit http://www.sierraattahoe.com.
Tahoe’s newest family friendly sled hill, TubeTahoe, opened in December. Located in Meyers, TubeTahoe features over 500 feet of “resort-quality” machine groomed tubing lanes. For more information, visit https://tubetahoe.com/.
State Snow Parks
There are several places around the basin that offer safe sled hills. Be sure to buy the permit online before heading out. Place your permit on your dashboard, visible to officers. For more information or to purchase a permit visit: https://ohv.parks.ca.gov and search winter recreation.
This snow play area is located on the west side of Highway 89, just north of Camp Richardson Road. Recommended activities are cross-country skiing, dog sledding and snow play. For more information, visit http://ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=23064.
NORTH LAKE TAHOE
North Tahoe Recreation and Parks:
Located in Tahoe Vista 1 mile west of Highway 267 and 1 mile north of Highway 28 offers lake views and year-round recreation activities for visitors of all ages including sledding opportunities. For more information visit https://northtahoeparks.com/north-tahoe-regional-park.
This historic resort offers several winter activities including sledding. Note that all sledding tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information visit https://granlibakken.com/ski-board-sled-hill/.
Tahoe City Winter Sports Park
For those sledders ages 10 and under, Tahoe City Winter Sports Park offers sledding. Be sure to make your reservation online and in advance at https://www.tcpud.org/winter.
Homewood Mountain Resort
Not only does this west-shore mountain offer terrain for skiing and snowboarding, but sledding is also available. For more information visit, https://www.skihomewood.com/.