Dodge Ridge offers kid-friendly skiing and snowboarding with schedules and prices that fit a young family’s needs better than many of the fancy resorts in Tahoe. Read on to learn why it’s a favorite of many Bay Area families.
Ski lessons at Dodge Ridge begin at age 2. Oakland parent Tamar Cohen started her son Alden at this age and said, “There’s nothing better than spending the day as a family on the slopes, where we can play with our son, and he can be the leader.”
Kids age 5 and under ski FREE, and there are several options for parents who want to ski with their kids.
Dodge Ridge has a parent-friendly split ticket called Parent Exchange, for parents of daycare-aged children who are not ready to ski or ride, so you can have one adult stay with your kids while the other adult goes off to ski and freely take turns sharing one lift ticket for the day.
Ski school times that work for more families. With all-day programs and half-day programs, parents can decide how much ski school to invest in. (This writer is a firm believer in letting someone else teach my kids how to ski for the first few hours.)
It is rare to find a ski school option for children that has half-day in the afternoon as well as the morning. This allows you to drive from the Bay Area in the morning and do afternoon ski school on the same day. For those who need a teacher for their child who is not themselves, ski school is worth the investment. Ideally, after one or two days of ski school, you can take over.
An all-day child’s lift ticket is $39 (ages 6-12) and adult’s is $99-109. As of this writing, there is a special for three teen/adult tickets for $269, which can be used for three different people or three different days.
In terms of the terrain — our son’s favorite area are lifts 7 and 8, the “backside”. These go to the top of the mountain and so the runs are much longer — there are intermediate runs from there and many of the expert runs are half intermediate. We find it’s generally not too crowded all over the mountain; sometimes we will have to wait a couple of minutes to get on the lift but usually, we can ski right up. The lift operators are also very helpful in getting our son onto the lift, as he’s too short to get on himself.
Getting to Dodge Ridge from the Bay Area
Dodge Ridge is by far the closest snow to Bay Area and Central Valley locations. Dodge Ridge is much easier to get to than the resorts in Tahoe — there can be traffic from the Pleasanton through Tracy corridor but after that, it is a straight shot.
Where to Stay When You Ski Dodge Ridge
We stay in the town Twain Harte and it takes us about 2.5 hours to get there from Oakland. Since Sonora pass closes in the winter you don’t have the traffic or crowds you can get in Tahoe. Many of the resorts in the Pinecrest area have deals where you get free lift tickets with your lodging. There is an excellent supermarket in Twain Harte if your place has a kitchen.
Note: The hotels in this area are pretty rustic. If you seek modern comforts (I DO!) look at a VRBO in Pinecrest. This is the ONLY ONE with a hot tub.
Where else can we play in the snow?
There’s also great sledding on the side of the highway at “Little Sweden”. Look for this name on Google Maps and be very careful pulling over on the highway. There is also an admission-based tubing hill called Leland Snow Play (which is fun, but in my opinion pricey for just sledding).
See our Guide to Snow Play for Bay Area Families for more ideas.