Magazine article Sunset

Now You Can "Snow-Park" - a New California Permit System Lets You Park off the Highway Safely in 17 Plowed Sites. It's First-Come, First-Served

Magazine article Sunset

Now You Can "Snow-Park" - a New California Permit System Lets You Park off the Highway Safely in 17 Plowed Sites. It's First-Come, First-Served

Article excerpt

Up the snowy interstate you've steered, and now you've turned off onto a snowier side road, and there you spot it--the ne lus ultra place to unpack skis and sleds and inner tubs for the season's first winter fun. Then you see drifts deep enough to hold your car hostage until spring thaw, and you decide to head for clearer--if more crowded and distant--terrain.

Now you may not have to turn away. Starting this year, California has a Sno-Park Program--a permit system designed to let you park in 18 plowed, off-highway sites in the Sierra Nevada, from Yuba Pass north of Lake Tahoe to Sequoia National Forest east of Porterville.

A one-day permit costs $2; it allows a single designated vechile to park in any Sno-Park site. An annual permit, good November through May, costs $10; it can be transferred from car to car.

Both are available at sporting goods and other stores--or, for the annual permit only, you can send a check (payable to California Department of Parks and Recreation) to Sno-Park Permits, Box 2390, Sacramento 95811. Members of the California State Automobile Association can obtain permits from any CSAA office.

The state also publishes a useful recreational guide to the sites marked on our map. (If the program proves successful, more will be added next year.) The guide costs $4 and can be obtained from the Sno-Park Permits office.

A few provisos about snow parking: First, buying a permit doesn't guarantee you a parking space; on holidays and busy weekends, especially in the Lake Tahoe Basin, you'd be wise to get an early start to beat the crowds. Trails are not groomed or patrolled. Most of the sites serve snowmobilers as well as skiers. Seekers of unbroken quiet should refer to the Sno-Park guide to select mor prestine areas.

Make sure you have a permit before you park, or you may be shelling out $75 as a fine. Unless well marked, preferably with 8-foot-tall flags at each corner, cars left overnight during a snowstorm can be damaged by snow-removal equipment. In addition to chains, pack a shovel.

Programs in other states

Other Western states also maintain signed and plowed parking areas for skiers and snowmobilers:

Idaho. …

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