Places To Sled In Our National Parks

Here are seven places you can sled in our national park areas.

By Courtney Johnson
Explore Ambassador

When people think of a visit to national parks, lakeshores and monuments, sledding is not something that typically comes to mind. In some locations, like Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and White Sands National Park, you can sled year-round, whether on sand or snow-covered sand. Other parks become winter paradises as the snow falls. Here are seven places you can sled in our national park areas.


Dune Climb — Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, MI

In winter, the Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has a designated area for sledding when snow levels permit. Tubes, skis, snowboards, toboggans and saucers can all be used to sail down the dune, but you must bring your form of transportation.

Be prepared for some trudging and tough climbing to get to the top of the dune. The views up top, approximately 450 feet high, and the thrill of flying down make all that work quite worth it. Although the dunes are open 24 hours, recommended sledding hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO

Come summer or winter, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve allows for sledding, whether it be on sand or even snow-covered sand. Although some have success using typical plastic sleds on the dunes, grabbing a sand sled or board is recommended in the nonwinter months. But, if snow covers the dunes, tubes, snowboards, skis and plastic sleds work well from November through April, weather dependent.

The park is open 24 hours, but enjoying some snow-covered fun is recommended during daytime hours for safety. You definitely have to earn your turns, or slides, down the hill. Dunes range in height and size and, with the sand underneath, are much harder to climb than your typical sledding hill. Photo: NPS


Hidden Valley — Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Once the site of a controversial ski area that was open from 1941 to 1992, Hidden Valley has become a snow playground for winter visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park. The area that was once designated as the bunny hill is now the place to go for tubing and sledding when snow level permits.

The sledding area is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You must bring your own sleds and tubes (no sleds with metal runners). The tow rope lift that was established in 1941 and the lift installed in 1955 are just memories of the past, so you will have to use your own power to get up the hill. Sledding and tubing are also at your own risk. A warming hut is open on weekends and holidays when there is enough volunteer staff. Photo: NPS


Hurricane Ridge — Olympic National Park, WA

A small children’s snow play area west of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is the perfect place for some winter fun in Olympic National Park. Visitors must bring their own sleds, tubes, etc., (without metal runners) and sled at their own risk. The area is best enjoyed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily when conditions are safe.

For visitors ages 9 and up, there is a designated tubing area at the Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area open on weekends and holidays. It is a walk-up tube area where 10 runs cost $20. Make it a full day of fun sledding, skiing and tubing at one of two remaining lifts in the national parks. Photo: NPS


Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA

Lassen National Park is a popular destination in the winter for visitors because of the amount of recreational opportunities. Sledding is one such activity that has brought enthusiasts to the hills from the early days of riding trash can lids to the double tubes of today. However, it might be best to leave your trash can lids at home and remember to be careful, as sledding is the No. 1 cause of injury during winter in the park, according to the park’s website.

There are several well-known sledding areas at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Near the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center in the southwest portion of the park there are several slopes to sled down. These hills are better for more experienced and older sledders due to the terrain.

Head to the northern part of the park near the Chaos Jumbles Area and/or Manzanita Lake for smaller hills for those younger, novice or older sledders. Just outside the park, Eskimo Hill is located in the Lassen National Forest and offers a snow play area good for all ages. Photo: NPS


White Sands National Park, NM

Head to the loop portion of Dunes Road in White Sands National Park for a day of sledding. Bring your own sled or grab a waxed plastic saucer from the gift shop to take a ride down the gypsum. Sledding is at your own risk, and hazards can be found all around the dunes. The park recommends gentle facing slopes with level runoffs at the end for safety.

The park gets very little actual snow, but the white gypsum looks like snow. The dunes range in size, and sledding is recommended only during daylight hours. If you hate having to dress in layers and coming home with freezing hands and feet, this is the kind of winter sledding for you.Photo: NPS


Yosemite National Park, CA

The Crane Flat snow play area adjacent to the cross-country ski trails at the Crane Flat campground is perfect for sledding fun in Yosemite National Park. The open meadows also are a good place to build snowmen or snow forts or to have a good, old-fashioned snowball fight, while the slopes are perfect for any age sledder.

Yosemite is the only other national park besides Olympic National Park with a working ski lift, and the Badger Pass ski area has a tubing area open daily, weather dependent. Get in some turns and finish the day with a few fun-filled runs down the tubing hill.Photo: NPS

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