Whisking your way down the powder-coated slopes each winter can be glorious. But not everyone was made to head downhill strapped to one wide, or two skinnier sticks, however well engineered.

If you’re not a skier or snowboarder, but have always wanted to try, most ski resorts around Lake Tahoe offer equipment rentals and lessons for beginners. However, if there are other factors involved in not braving the slopes, or you simply want to explore other ways to enjoy the white fluffy stuff this winter, check out these alternative forms of snow play in and around Lake Tahoe.


Throttle up to 9,000 feet above Lake Tahoe, through snow-covered meadows and pine trees on a scenic, two-hour snowmobile tour at Zephyr Cove Resort. Each vehicle can take one or two riders, including first-timers, and guided excursions are offered at many times daily, including by light of the full moon.

Cross-country skiing

Outside of Tahoe City on the lake’s west shore are more than 40 miles of cross country ski trails to explore at Tahoe XC. Run by the nonprofit Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association, cross country ski rentals and trail passes are available, as are free lessons for beginners at scheduled times weekly. Some trails even permit your four-legged friends to tag along.

Ice skating

Amidst the glimmering lights of downtown Reno, an oasis of ice emerges each winter at Greater Nevada Field. Weather-permitting, multiple, hours-long sessions each day are offered, and skates can be rented on-site. Check the website for special events and lesson times that may prohibit public rink whirling.

Fat-tire biking

Cyclists and mountain bikers can add a challenging new element to their ride in the winter at Tahoe Jack’s. Fat tire bike adventurers explore snow-covered backcountry trails outside of South Lake Tahoe on two supersized wheels with exceptional traction. All necessary equipment is provided, as is guidance for first-timers.

Stars and S'mores Studies

Award-winning amateur astronomer and RGJ Star Guide columnist Tony Berendsen guides guests through the cosmos at these fireside sessions at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe with Tahoe Star Tours. Poetry readings, telescope viewing, and scientific chats on the stars are accompanied by s’mores and snow-capped scenery.

Snow tubing

Young and young-at-heart snow play seekers can rent adult- or child-sized tubes at the SnoVentures Activity Zone at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. Course down the hill, faces plastered with smiles, then repeat. Each ticket gets tubers 55 fun-filled minutes before they can hit the nearby lodge and thaw out.

Sleigh ride

Since 1967, family-owned operation Borges Family Sleigh Rides has taken guests on picturesque, narrated sleigh rides through the snow. With two starting points, one in Sand Harbor on Lake Tahoe’s east shore and the other in South Lake Tahoe, horse-led excursions straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting can be had once the snow sufficiently covers the hills. 

Gondola ride

Take a 2.4-mile ride up the mountain in South Lake Tahoe to the summit at Heavenly Lake Tahoe, where breathtaking views of the Tahoe Basin and snow-tipped Sierra peaks captivate riders along the way. At the top, warm up over cocoa and snacks at the Tamarack Lodge before heading back down the same way.

Full-moon snowshoeing

Ethereal snowshoe expeditions by the light of the full moon are held monthly this winter with Tahoe Adventure Company. Gear will be properly fitted and guidance provided before setting out on an adventure accompanied by warm beverages and snacks, plus discussions on astronomy and natural history. 

Dog sledding

Dog mushing is not just for the Iditarod or Arctic travels. Head out into the wilderness surrounding the Resort at Squaw Creek on a sled led by a pack of enthusiastic Alaskan Huskies — and one experienced human leader. Bundle up for this approximately 5-mile, primal-feeling excursion with Wilderness Adventures Dog Sled Tours.

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