California's 18 SNO-PARKs, cleared parking areas for vehicles, provide opportunities for non-motorized winter activities, including cross-country skiing, dog sledding, and snow play. A handful of SNO-Parks offer access to both motorized and non-motorized activities. The SNO-Park sites are located on U.S. Forest Service lands. The program is coordinated and administered by the OHMVR Division of California State Parks, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Transportation, the California Highway Patrol, and various community organizations. Plowing services and restrooms facilities are supported by the Winter Recreation Fund, which is funded by the sales of SNO-Park parking permits.
SNO-Parks can be identified by distinctive brown signs located along the highways throughout the Sierra Nevadas. Keep in mind that it is against the law to park on highway interchanges. Either a day or season permit is required for every vehicle parked at a SNO-Park site from November 1 – May 30. The permit must be displayed on the left side of the vehicle dashboard where it can be seen clearly from the outside of the vehicle. Learn more about the SNO-Park permit program by visiting their page.
Winter recreation activities may be hazardous. Your common sense, skill level, use of proper clothing, respect for the terrain and weather will combine to affect your safety.
Tips for Visiting your favorite SNO-Park
- Remember that SNO-Park plowing cannot be maintained without highway plowing. For this reason, under certain weather conditions, some SNO-Parks may not be cleared for vehicle parking until the highways have been cleared.
- Parking is first come, first serve at all SNO-Park sites. No refunds are issued if your favorite SNO-Park is full.
- Park and drive carefully within SNO-Park sites. Watch for pedestrians.
- Overnight parking, including in-vehicle camping is allowed except where noted or signed at SNO-Park sites.
- When overnight parking is allowed tent camping or sleeping outside a vehicle in the parking area is prohibited at all SNO-Park sites.
- Vehicles parked overnight need to be staked at all 4 corners with 1x2 inch by 8-foot poles to prevent accidental damage by snow removal equipment.
- Do not build campfires on paved areas.
- Do not litter SNO-Park sites. Trash containers may not be provided, pack out your own refuse.
- Carry a shovel and tire chains.
- Lock your vehicle and do not leave items of value in sight.