The holiday season has started and winter's right around the corner. It's the time of the year when, regardless of Mother Nature's willingness to comply, we start wishing for the cold. Images of snow gently dusting evergreen trees, snowmen, snow capped mountains and sledding hills are the things of seasonal daydreams. From the ages of four to 84 (well maybe consult your doctor first if you're actually 84), sledding is guaranteed to put smiles on everyone's face. Family coming for the holidays? Take them sledding. Want a holiday celebration with friends? Yep...sledding.
Here are a few of our favorite sledding hills from around the country. Go check out the ones near you, and if you know of some others, let us know. We'd love to add them to our list.
If you're lucky enough to live near us in Seattle, here are two of our favorite Washington sledding destinations.
Mt. Rainier, the crown jewel of the Cascades has a sledding area at Paradise. The groomed sledding hill is located north of the upper parking lot. The snowplay area opens when snow is deep enough to protect the vegetation below, so verify it's open before heading out (as of this writing it is not yet open for the season). A park pass is required for admittance to the park, but the sledding hill itself is free! You will need to bring your own sled - toboggans and runner sleds are not included.
Mt. Spokane has Children's Choice Tubing Hill, which features groomed lanes and a rope tow to pull sliders back to the top, guaranteeing laps and laps of fun. Children's Choice Tubing Hill is located at Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park and open weekends and holidays. Sledding sessions are reasonably priced ($5-$15 at the time of writing) and sleds are supplied.
Midwesterners, if you're in Michigan or Minnesota or check these areas out:
Timberlee Hills near Traverse City, MI has tubing and a rope tow. Prices are very reasonable ($14).
Frontenac State Park in Minnesota sits on the banks of the Mississippi river. It is a fantastic winter play land with miles of miles of cross country ski trails and a designated sledding hill (with a warming hut - woot!).
For those feeling rather adventurous with their sledding, check out the hill at Upper Sioux Agency State Park also in Minnesota. The steep slopes make it a fun and challenging place to sled - definitely best suited for teenagers on up. Or those of you who believe, to your core, that you’re still that kamikaze at heart. (Who’s got two thumbs and a big grin?!)
Hey New Englanders!
There are excellent sledding opportunities in New England. One of our favorites is Big Boulder at Lake Harmony in Pennsylvania. Big Boulder has 15 tubing chutes, a conveyor belt and tow ropes to take sliders to the top of the hill! Additionally, it's illuminated - night sledding is something to experience. This is a "pay to play" area with prices starting at about $25 for a three hour session.
Folks in the inter-mountain west? We got you.
Just outside of Golden, CO is Golden Gate Canyon State park. This state park is home to a large sledding hill southwest of the visitor's center on the slope above Kriley Pond. After a good snowfall this is an excellent area to bomb down hills while trying to contain your grin. There is no charge to sled, but you'll need to bring your own and pay for entry to the park ($7 for a day pass).
In Rocky Mountain National Park, Hidden Valley is a popular sledding destination. Hidden Valley was once a downhill ski area. Today, there are picnic tables, bathrooms and a warming hut. Sledding is free, but you'll need to bring your own sled and pay for entrance to the park ($20 per car for a day pass).
Hopefully this gives you some good ideas on places to spend an afternoon or two hanging out with friends and enjoying one of winter's silliest of activities. If you're still looking for sledding areas, check out http://www.sledriding.com/, a site of user submitted sledding information from around the nation.