Soda Springs Ski Resort: 15 Trails and Two Snowtubing Venues

As the closest ski area to Sacramento, Soda Springs Mountain Resort is an ideal place for beginners and families with young kids to get their feet wet (figuratively), while developing the skills needed to tackle more challenging skiing and snowboarding hills.

Open since 1975, this unique resort is more affordable than the mega-resorts of nearby Lake Tahoe and caters to youngsters who are at or near the beginning of their winter sports career. Intermediate and advanced skiers will also find downhill runs that provide fun and thrills.

Ski Lifts at Soda Springs ski resort
Ski Lifts at Soda Springs. Photo Credit Dain Sandoval (Flickr CC)

Directions to Soda Springs

It’s easy as can be to get to Soda Springs Mountain Resort. No matter what direction you’re coming from, if you can find I-80 (and who can’t?), you can find it. Just take exit 174 for Soda Springs/Norden, turn right onto Donner Pass Road, and one mile later turn right again at Soda Springs Road. Voila! You’ve arrived.

The Soda Springs/Norden exit is:

  • From Reno – 45 miles west via I-80, 45 minutes
  • From Sacramento – 90 miles east via I-80, one hour + 35 minutes
  • From San Francisco/Oakland – 175 miles east from the Bay Bridge toll plaza, via I-80, 3 to 4 hours depending on traffic
  • From South Lake Tahoe – 55 miles total via CA-89 for 43 miles, then I-80 west for 10 minutes, one hour + 25 minutes

Soda Springs’ Mountain Stats

  • Summit elevation: 7,300 feet
  • Base elevation: 6,750 feet
  • Vertical Rise: 550 feet
  • Lifts: 1 double, 1 triple, 3 moving carpets (1 is at the tubing park)
  • Trails: 15
  • Terrain ratings: 30% beginner, 40% more difficult, 30% most difficult

Soda Springs Mountain Resort receives, on average, about 400 inches of snow annually.

Lodging Options at Soda Springs

There are no hotel accommodations on-property at Soda Springs, but there are several good lodging possibilities within minutes of the resort. Some of the top options include:

Soda Springs Ski Resort Trail Info

skis and snowboards

Broad trails and gradual downhill runs can be found at the top of the Lion’s Hill Lift. The ‘easiest’ runs are Creampuff, Sunshine, Scooter, and Alley Cat. The ‘more difficult’ Lodge Return is also found using this lift.

Hop-on the Crystal Bowl Lift if you’re heading to the ‘more difficult’ Lower Crystal Bowl or Lower Mad Dog runs, both are which are found at the midway point of the lift.

Skiers and boarders seeking out the ‘most difficult’ terrain at Soda Springs should ride the Crystal Bowl Lift to the top of the hill. There you’ll find run named Crispillo Rock, Roaring 20’s, Upper Crystal Bowl, Upper Mad Dog, Race Course, and Nose Dive.

Soda Springs Mountain Resort Lift Tickets & Season Passes

You’ll find three lift ticket options at Soda Springs Mountain Resort, including the usual daily pass. For a specific day’s entry, purchase your lift tickets online prior to arrival, in order to ensure availability.

Called ‘OnePass’, you’ll make your ticket purchase online, and be provided with an access code to obtain entry via your smart phone, upon arrival.

The Family Pass provides lift tickets for parents and two kids for the entire season. One price for everyone, and it is the most reasonably priced entry option for families. Additional children can be added to this pass for less than you’d expect.

Hey, wait a minute! What about me? I’m not a family, or even half of a couple, but I come to Soda Springs regularly. Do I have to pay full price each time I visit? Of course not! The Unlimited Pass is perfect for singles, couples, and even groups of friends that regularly ski together.

Pay just one season-long price, and Soda Springs is yours to enjoy for as many times as you like.

Price categories for The Unlimited Pass include adults 24+, seniors 60+, young adult 18-23, teens 13-17, child 5-12, and micro child (yes, seriously, micro child), under age 5.

Is There Night Skiing at Soda Springs Ski Resort?

No, Soda Springs is strictly a daytime resort, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. most days, with slightly longer hours during peak weekends, and on holidays.

Rent Your Gear Here

Tecnica Ski Boots
Gear rentals . Photo Credit Dain Sandoval (Flickr CC)

If you don’t own your equipment, or perhaps don’t feel like lugging yours along this time, there’s no need to go shopping for gear when you’re coming to Soda Springs.

The resort offers very affordable packages for both skiing and snowboarding, each of which includes boots, skis with bindings, or a snowboard, poles for skiers, and a helmet to protect your all-important brain.

You’ll find the Rental Services facility on the first floor of the Lodge. However, be sure to reserve and pay for your equipment online, before heading for Soda Springs Ski Resort, as weekends and holidays can be crowded. Rental Services opens at 8 a.m., with pick-up times of 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 noon, and 2 p.m.

Lessons for Novice and Experienced Skiers

Kid’s lessons start at age three, and participants need to be at least eight years old to join a group lesson. The resort requires you to arrive no less than an hour before your scheduled lesson time.

Mountain Adventure Pass

For non-skiing or boarding visitors, there’s still plenty to do here. The Mountain Adventure Pass provides one-ticket entry to Planet Kids, Tube Town, the Woodward Start Park, and is also your boarding ticket for fun-filled rides on the “Sleigh”.

Teenagers and adults who are at Soda Springs for skiing and snowboarders are not permitted in this area of the resort.

There is a separate entrance, and ticket fee, for guests planning to use the lifts to the downhill runs.

What’s There to Eat at Soda Springs?

beers and lagers

You’ll find light meals, grab-and-go snacks, and beverages at the Soda Café in the Main Lodge, as well as at the Planet Kids Café in the West Meadow Lodge.

The towns of Donner and Truckee, both just minutes east of Soda Springs, offer a variety of dining options for meals throughout the day.

Soda Springs Tubing Hills

Yes, there is tubing at Soda Springs. In fact, there are TWO tubing hills here, with one for the youngsters, and another for older kids as well as adults.

Other Planet Kids features include tubing carousels, snow volcanoes, and a Woodward Start Park which is designed to introduce youngsters to skiing and boarding at a young age. Kid-sized bumps and berms will be found here, along with foam blocks and learning boards.

This is a great place to get your kids into the spirit of making the most of winter.

Complimentary skiing and snowboarding equipment, helmet included, is provided at Planet Kids on first-come, first-serve basis, for youngsters with a shoe size of four, or smaller.

Final Thoughts

If you ski or snowboard for fun, but don’t care to break the bank with this potentially expensive sport, Soda Springs may just be the right place for you. This is especially true if you are new to downhill runs but aren’t quite sure if it for you, long-term, just yet.

Affordable lift tickets and rental equipment makes Soda Springs an ideal spot to take lessons, and gradually ease into some exciting, snow-filled days of activity. There’s truly something for everyone at Soda Springs Mountain Resort.

Jessie Gonzalez writes for Proper Peaks and lives in Stockton, CA. One of her favorite things about snowboarding is seeing beginners get started and watching them enjoy the sport.

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