Leland High Sierra Snow Play is a snow park for tubing in Strawberry, CA, in the Sonora Pass region. It’s open daily (except most Tuesdays and Wednesdays!) from December 2022 to whenever the snow fades away, and seven days a week during Christmas Break. Buy a ticket at the front desk. Arrive a half hour before opening, if possible, to avoid a sell-out.
Located about 175 miles, mostly east, from the Berkeley area, rental houses are abundant in Twain Harte, a mountain town about 35 minutes from the snow park, and early planners may have luck securing lodging even closer, either in Pinecrest or Strawberry.
At Leland Snow Play, guests pay for a ticket that enables them to use tubes for riding down a man-made hill as many times as they like. All tubes are provided.
A mechanical tow takes you up the hill while you sit on your tube, like a moving sidewalk. (No lap-sitting on the tow allowed, and children must be 44″ to ride the tow.) At age 5, my (petite) daughter was not quite tall enough, but we bought her the tow ticket anyway because I got the feeling that the ticket salesperson was encouraging me to exaggerate her height. Generally, kids under 44″: are limited to a smaller magic carpet area.
Once at the top, parents and children may not share a tube ride, but can attach themselves to one another for a tandem ride by having the child, sitting in her own tube, hook her arms around her parent’s feet.
Our 5-year-old stuck with us, but our 8-year-old and his third-grade buddy were able to navigate the park themselves and we let them stray from us, giving ourselves a pat on the back for free-range parenting.
There are lines to stand in, but they didn’t last long enough to detract from our good times. Staff members are manning the flow of tube traffic to ensure safety.
Easy-access sledding lanes for toddlers and preschoolers are centrally located in front of the snack bar/lodge. At the time of our visit, there wasn’t a ton of snow, and those rides were not stimulating enough for our group. A child of two- or three years old will certainly enjoy the “baby hill.”
Related: Best places to play in the snow with Bay Area kids >
The nearby ski resort is Dodge Ridge, a great place for kids to learn. We enjoyed their ski school recently, and Oakland mom Tamar Cohen reviewed Dodge Ridge for us a couple of years ago.
Plan your visit to Leland Snow Play in Strawberry, CA
The big hill is about eight lanes of tubing and provides a serious thrill, even for adults. It was a fun way to spend two to three hours, but as of January 2023, the two-hour tickets are not being sold. It seems unlikely a family would need a full day pass unless there were more snow and more general snow play fun to be had.
While finding a natural sledding hill off the side of the road may be more appealing to lovers of the great outdoors, Leland Snow Play is a good choice for a tow rope, decent snack bar, a warm fire in the small lodge, bouncy snow tubes, and days when the supply of snow is light elsewhere.
Location: 34033 Leland Meadow Road, Strawberry, CA
See the Leland Snow Play website for details on pricing and hours >