I’m a skier. My favorite place to ski is up a clear un-tracked forested slope somewhere in the Mt. Rose Wilderness on the East shore of Lake Tahoe. My son, on the other hand, is 2 years old and is just getting started. My cousin in Roseville has 4 kids who love the snow as well, but are just getting into skiing. So when looking for a perfect place to meet up in the winter time for some outdoor fun we found Soda Springs Ski Resort.
Soda Springs Ski Resort
Soda Springs is a small resort just west of Donner Summit, CA. They have Two chairlifts, a small lodge, plenty of parking and three awesome things for kids and families.
Planet Snow Kids
- Cost: $25 for a kid + 1 parent
- Additional parent is $5
This little facility is pretty much the best thing for snow loving kids under 8 years old. Planet Snow is a little snow fun center with a bunch of things for kids to do.
Snow Carousels: There are two metal turnstyles that drag tiny snow tubes, with your kid around in them around in a circle. This is pretty fun for a turn or two. Make sure bigger kids go on the outside, littler ones on the inside. See my article on centripetal force for why.
Giant Cone of Snow: This is just a giant cone of snow. With big hard clumps. Kids get to climb on it. Slide down it. Jump, fall, the works. I know what you’re thinking. “$25 to play on some dumb pile of snow?” OK, you try to make one. As someone who remembers what it was like to be a kid, this was awesome. Our group of six kids went straight for it and had to pry them off after 20 minutes.
Snow Tubing Hill: This is just the baby snow tubing hill. The big one is below. This one is perfect for younger kids. The tubes are small and the hill is low angle. I tried as hard as I could to impart enough inertia onto my son to send him through the crash fence, but it wouldn’t happen. I even took a running start pulling the tube and slung him down. He just bounced off the corral of tubes at the bottom and laughed to a stop. We even played Bowling For Bobbys with my uncle Bobby. He loved that. All the kids were hooting and yelling the whole way down. It was great.
Skiing Hill: There is a skiing hill next to the tubing hill. It’s the same hill, short and low angle. Great for introducing kids to skiing or snowboarding. It looks just like the tubing hill, and we took the boys skiing the day before this so we didn’t bother.
Magic Carpets: There are two magic carpet conveyors to get kids up to the top of the hill. They are slow and easy enough for my 2 year old to navigate with a tube by himself.
Ski Rentals: For the ticket price includes ski and boot rentals for your kid. Can’t beat that deal with a stick.
- 25 per person all day
- 42 inches and taller
Tube Town is great for bigger kids (42″ and taller) and adults. They have a big wide array of tubing lanes with up-sloped runouts. Tubing is served by a 400 foot magic carpet conveyor here as well.
Mini Snowmobile Rides
- $10 for 10 laps
- 6 to 12 years old
Yeah. They make mini snowmobiles. You know how you’re supposed to get excited about mini pretzls, mini skateboards, mini poodles? Well, mini snowmobiles is about the best thing a kid could ever see except for mini trains. The mini sledneck track is right out in front of the main lodge where there is absolutely no way to prevent your kid from seeing it. If your kid is between 6 and 10 and is awake, they’re gonna want to do it. It’ll cost you $10 for 10 laps. And I’m sure it’s worth every penny.
- Adult: $36
- Youth: $25
- Pedestrian Pass: $5
Soda Springs is a real ski resort, as I mentioned, though experienced skiers will not be super stoked with the extent of the terrain. There are two fixed-grip lifts serving 15 runs. The top of the mountain is rated Black, but it would probably be blue at most resorts. There are some blue runs at mid mountain. The lift in front of the lodge serves what looked like a great beginner run. Long enough and steep enough to get some turns in while still being easy enough for beginners.
My only complaint is that they didn’t have changing tables in the bathrooms. Men’s or Women’s. Not sure if they had bathrooms at the Planet Snow. It didn’t come up for us. Either way, if you have a lodge and you don’t put changing tables in the bathrooms, you’re basically saying, go ahead, change your kid on the dining tables. (we changed him in the car).
We didn’t ski, but if you are looking to get your family started in skiing, or please a larger diverse group of kids and adults, Soda Springs might be a great inexpensive option.
This would be a great day trip destination from Sacramento or the Bay area for low key, and low budget skiing and snow fun for families that aren’t super hard core. Particularly if you have a group with a wide spread in ages and ability levels. For a fun family outing in the snow, Soda Springs is pretty ideal.