By Laurie Jo Miller Farr
When all you really want to do is slide downhill fast in the snow in the good old fashioned way, there’s nothing better than a great sledding hill. While giant tubing parks with organized lanes now blanket the downhill scene, here and there you can find just plain hills for old school-style sledding. Bundle up, look out for the trees and don’t overlook the precaution of wearing goggles and a helmet.
Firecracker Sledding Hill
500 East Colorado Ave.
Telluride, CO 81435
Near the free ice skating rink in Telluride Town Park, Firecracker Hill is the ideal sledding hill, complete with Rocky Mountain views. Located on the southern side of Town Park, the hill’s approach along Nordic ski trails is marked off with orange cones, says Telluride Tourism Board. Telluride Nordic Association is a nonprofit organization involved with education and enhancement of Nordic winter sports for all ages and abilities in this famous ski region of Colorado. From snow shoes to hockey skates, Telluride Nordic Association rents, sharpens, waxes, mounts, repairs, and teaches. They also rent sleds if you need one. (Also for sale at Ace Hardware on Main Street.)
The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
Boston, MA 02130
Since it’s a 280-acre park owned by Harvard University, let’s assume this is a highly intelligent choice. However, it’s not for beginners. Arnold Arboretum turns into the great white way when Boston wakes up to snowy conditions. Two hills have lovely views; the one called Peters Hill at Walter and Bussey streets is one of the highest and longest at about 350 feet. The other, Weld Hill, has some 60-degree inclines, so this one is best suited to experienced sledders, dare devils, and know-it-alls.
Theodore Wirth Park
1301 Theodore Wirth Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55422
When it comes to having fun on snow, take it from the folks in Minnesota. Once the snowflakes accumulate, this city park is an admission-free winter wonderland for sledding and tubing. Within the park, Sunset Hill is a favorite and the designated sledding hill at Columbia Golf Club is one of the steepest hills in Northeast Minneapolis. Bring your own sled or rent a snow tube. When it’s time to warm up, it’s good to know that the bar and grill inside the historic Wirth Chalet has sandwiches, hot dogs, soup, snacks, and hot beverages. Also, there’s free Wi-Fi, restrooms, lockers, and a shop that sells stocking caps and gloves.
725 Granlibakken Road
Tahoe City, NV 96145
Bring your own saucers and the whole family for good times on this tube-free, toboggan-free hill at Tahoe. Alternatively, get a ticket for the day which includes equipment rental at this slope that’s suitable for smaller kids on plastic sleds, too. Children under 3 go sledding for free. Parents are recommended to have each person on their own saucer and to link the child to the parent with the adult’s legs. Straight sleds are allowed (although discouraged for safety reasons) and inflatable sliding devices are not permitted. At an elevation of 6,350 feet above the northwest shores of Lake Tahoe, this 95-year-old family-owned resort also has ski slopes, cross country terrain, and a lodge.
Mount Rainier National Park
55210 238th Ave. East
Ashford, WA 98304
If you like wilderness, pristine scenery, and abundant snowfall with your sledding hill, consider venturing into a national park where winter sports are allowed. Once the minimum five feet of snow has fallen (to protect vegetation), usually by Christmas, the snow play area and sledding hill at Mount Rainier’s Paradise is open for fun. It’s a long winter seasons, with an average of 50-plus feet of snow annually. Tire chains are a must. The park encourages the use of soft sliding devices such as flexible sleds, inner tubes, and saucers. There are no hard toboggans or runner sleds are permitted. The elevation is 5,400 feet in the southwest corner of the park near the new Paradise Jackson Visitor Center. Use the park’s Nisqually entrance, about 87 miles from Seattle and about 65 miles from Tacoma.
Related: Top 5 Winter Travel Tips