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Want to Sled in a National Park this Year? Check Out Our Top Picks

While national parks, forests, and monuments see the highest number of visitors in the summer months, winter is an opportune time to visit one because of the smaller crowds and unique scenery. In addition to the beauty of the snow, outdoor winter recreation is abundant. These 10 locations offer sledding opportunities when the snow is abundant. 

Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO

While sand sledding down the sand dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park happens year-round, it is a thrill to sled down the dunes when they are covered in snow. A specifically designed sand sled or board is recommended during the snow-free months, but during winter you will see visitors on snowboards, skis, and plastic sleds. From November through April weather dependent, the best sledding hours are from 9-4 even though the park is open 24 hours. All dunes are open for sledding and vary in size. Snow covered dunes are also much harder to climb up than a typical sledding hill, making you earn your sled “turns.” 

Kings Canyon National Park

The Big Stump section of Kings Canyon National Park features a snowplay area to sled, build a snowman and much more. Grant Grove is also open to sledding along with snowshoeing, nature walks, and tours. Bring your sleds and tubes for a day of fun amongst the towering trees. Close to Sequoia and Kings Canyon, the Quail Flat and Cherry Gap trailheads are also national forest snowplay areas. 

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen National Park is a popular destination in the winter for visitors, especially sledding. So much so, that the park lists sledding as the number one cause of injury in the park during the winter. Several places in the park are open to sledding including near the Kohm Ya-mah-nee Visitor Center in the southwest portion of the park where there are several slopes to sled down. In the northern part of the park near the Chaos Jumbles Area, and/or Manzanita Lake you can find smaller hills for those younger, novice, or older sledders. In the Lassen National Forest, Eskimo Hill is a good place for all ages to sled. 

Olympic National Park 

On holidays and weekends, visitors age 9 and up can enjoy walk-up tubing at the Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard area of Olympic National Park. There is also a small children’s play area near the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center for tubing or sledding from 10-4 daily, conditions permitting. 

Oregon Sno-Parks

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Image by Hasmik Ghazaryan Olson

In the national forest Near Mt. Hood, there are several designated at-your-own-risk tubing and sledding areas, you just need a valid Sno-Park permits. In the Hood River Ranger District, Cooper Spur Ski area has two tubing hills while the Little John Sno-Park & Campground is open for tubes and saucers only. Within the Zigzag Ranger District, the Snow Bunny Sledding Area is perfect for families with their own gear. Check the National Forest website for more info on sledding areas in the two ranger districts. 

Rocky Mountain National Park 

Home to a ski resort from 1941-1992, Hidden Valley attracts winter  visitors for all kinds of snow play. The designated bunny hill has become a sledder’s destination in Rocky Mountain National Park when snow levels permit. The hill is open to sledding 7 days a week, 10-4. Tubes, skis, boards, and sleds with no metal runners are permitted. A warming hut is open on holidays and weekends, staff permitting. 

Sequoia National Park

Located at 7,250 feet, Wolverton Meadow is a winter paradise, especially for those who enjoy sledding. The best time to sled is during daylight hours. Skis, tubes, and snowboards are also permitted. You can also snowshoe and cross-country ski in the Wolverton Meadow area for a full-day of play. Visit the Lodgepole Market or the Wuksachi Lodge for rentals. There is no fee to enjoy sledding in the Wolverton area. 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 

Image by Alex Ramon

Bring your own transportation for a unique experience sledding down the dune climb in a designated area at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The dune is approximately 450 feet high requiring some lugging of that saucer, tube, or sled. Some even try their hand at skiing or snowboarding down the sand when there is enough snow. There are other areas you can sled around the park when conditions permit. The lakeshore is open 24 hours, but sledding is best during daylight hours. Other outdoor activities at the park include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

White Sands National Park

Off of Dunes Road in the loop portion of White Sands National Park is a designated sled area, open during daylight hours. You can bring your own sled or head to the gift shop to rent or buy a plastic saucer. More than likely, your day will be spent sledding down the white gypsum rather than snow because the park actually gets very little snow accumulation. The cooler temps might be just enough to fool you into thinking that it is real snow. 

Yosemite National Park

Head to the Badger Pass Ski area within Yosemite for some downhill turns and tubing, open daily weather dependent. Adjacent to the Crane Flat Campground and cross-country ski trails, the Crane Flat Snow Play area is a perfect place to sled near Yosemite National Park. Perfect for any age sledder, the sledding area and open meadow are open during the daytime to enjoy some good old fashioned winter fun. 

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