The most memorable winters in Truckee-Tahoe are epic and full on. We shovel, brave the roads to get to the resort on big powder days, and ski far into the summer months. Other winters, we dust off our mountain bikes and pray for Miracle March. Luckily for us, our region has more year-round outdoor fun than any other ski town… probably anywhere! There are endless ways to get creative and play outdoors no matter the weather. So, let’s talk about the question on everyone’s mind…
What can I do around Truckee when there’s no snow?
Instead of pouring over stats about weather patterns, historical snowfall records and other predictions that no one knows will come true, we’ve got something better: the best things to do in Truckee and Lake Tahoe when there isn’t a lot of snow!
#1 Run On The Beach
You might not guess this, but mild winter weather can be absolutely perfect for a run! Picture this: the sun’s shining, temps are in the 40’s or 50’s, and the air is cool, crisp, and comfortable with your favorite Kari Traa or On Running base layer. Best of all is that you’ll have the trails and beaches to yourself and when does that ever happen!? Here are a few of our favorite spots for a scenic run with the best views in Truckee and Lake Tahoe.
Where to go:
- Donner Memorial State Park, Truckee
- Kings Beach State Recreation Area, North Lake Tahoe
- Prosser Dam Road, Truckee
#2 In-Bounds “Backcountry” Skiing
You got all your backcountry skiing gear ready for the season, and now you have no powder fields to explore. Sure, the lifts are running from 8:30am-4:00am daily, but that’s just not good enough.
You want a workout, and you want to slap on those climbing skins that hung out in your closet for the past nine months. Skin up the resort! Sugar Bowl and Diamond Peak have uphill policies that allow skiers to hike up groomed runs during specified hours.
Another way to get in a great workout, without schlepping your heavy backcountry set up, is to try out a pair of skimo skis. Not sure what skimo is? Everything you need to know is in this post. It’s an ultralight way to travel in the mountains and will help you get fit for fast and light ventures. Rent skimo skis at Tahoe Mountain Sports.
#3 Go Ice Skating
Ice skating conditions are superb right now! It’s cold in the morning and warms up nicely by mid-day, making it a great afternoon activity or evening activity. Head to the Truckee Ice Rink at the Truckee River Regional Park for a family fun winter activity.
If you’ve got your own skates there are other spots to explore although, conditions are always changing so use your best judgment before going out on the ice. Stop by the shop for an update on conditions and recommendations on where to go.
#4 Go for a Bike Ride at Prosser Dam Road
Prosser Dam Road is in great shape right now for walking, running and riding. It’s one of the first places to open up when the snow starts to melt. There are miles of snow-free dirt roads and trails to explore, just make sure to bring a map so you know where you’re going!
Riding a gravel or cross bike out there right now provides for a great workout while avoiding car traffic. Running out there provides for a nice, consistent, mostly flat route.
To learn more about Prosser Dam Road routes, click here.
#5 Ski Under the Lights: Night Riding At Boreal
Have you ever gone skiing under the stars? You can at Boreal Mountain California. Wear extra layers for this unique experience and pack a Hydro Flask of hot cocoa to keep warm. The runs are short and it may seem like you’re spending more time on the lift, so a burlier mid-layer jacket and a face mask could come in handy. Go during a full moon and enjoy super-awesome turns.
#6 Take A Hike
During low snow years, you can ski in the morning and go hiking in the afternoon with the proper winter hiking clothes and winter hiking shoes. Your favorite trails may or may not be hidden under snow or ice, but you’ll never know until you go! Dress warmly and bring along extra clothing and a headlamp for those shorter days (just in case.) Microspikes or another snow traction device are recommended for icy sections.
#7 Mid-Winter Disc Golf
Most of the disc golf courses in Tahoe are pretty clear because they’ve had so much time to dry out since our last storm. Everyone is still in winter mode this time of year, so you should have the courses pretty much to yourself.
Grab a brightly colored disc driver (just don’t use white around what remains of snow patches) and try to finish your game before the early winter sunset.
New to disc golf? Here’s a beginner’s how-to guide for the sport. It’s a great pastime – a fun way to hang with your friends, get the dogs out to play, and go for a walk in the woods. Start practicing your game now so you’re spot-on when summer arrives.
#8 Go Rock Climbing
With Bishop, California, only a few hours away the idea of a quick desert escape sounds rather nice. Consider loading up the car and heading south for some car-camping and bouldering at the Buttermilks, followed by a dip in one of the Mammoth Lakes area’s many natural hot springs.
There are also tons of great places to climb nearby, like Donner Summit in Truckee, the Emeralds near Nevada City, Lovers Leap near South Lake Tahoe, to name a few. Pick up a climbing guidebook from Tahoe Mountain Sports and see how many problems you can tick off before snow returns! We also have climbing gear to rent at the shop as well. Reserve your gear here.
When the weather is really uncooperative, you can find fantastic climbing indoors at High Altitude Fitness in Incline Village, Nevada. They have an auto-belay/self-belay system so you don’t need a spot, and they set new routes frequently so you never get bored!
Former park ranger turned writer/marketer. Always down for a sufferfest, as long as it ends with ice cream. Favorite activities include backcountry skiing, trail running, and backpacking.