First off, I have to admit I am not an avid sledder. Most of my snow-sliding experience comes from competitive snowboarding, but being the proud aunt of three nieces and a nephew, I have started to collect my fair share experiences and am learning what can go right — or wrong! — during any good sledisode.

Here are some tips to have a safe and thrilling time hurtling your body down frozen water on a small plastic boat; aka 

The Unofficial 2019/20
Guide to Slediquette

Pick the right sled for the right hill and surroundings. The basic breakdown splits into two camps, each good for a specific type of sled-shredding mission.

COLD SMOKE: Nothing makes you feel more alive than a face full of fresh powder. Photo by Juliana Demarest/Moonshine Ink

The saucer: This is that brightly colored round disc that can and will send you in any direction without prior notice. It’s a wild ride, so its optimal use is on a slope where there are few trees — and even fewer people — to hit. It’s known for its speed and tendency to spin, so if you do not like the tea cup ride at Disneyland, and prefer even a small amount of control, it may be in your best interest to steer clear of the saucer option. If you are, however, seeking to simulate what it might be like to twirl like Michelle Kwan at a James Dean pace, look no further than that classic neon disc of unbounded, unpredictable joy.

SLOPESTYLE: Head first, feet first, back first, the possibilities are plenty. Photo by Juliana Demarest/Moonshine Ink

If you wish to have some measure of control, and I stress some measure, then perhaps the long, square-hulled sled is a better option. Rest assured, like the saucer, they are often still available in a healthy spectrum of neon and other bright colors; in the world of sledding, flare will not be spared. These rectangular sleds are best-suited for crowded areas, as you have better control over steering and stopping. Since these sleds are typically longer, they can also accommodate two riders. Should you choose to share your sled run with a friend, it’s best to let the heavier of the two of you ride in the back of the sled as it will help keep the nose of the sled off the snow. Doing so will also help with keeping face plants to a minimum. And always bear in mind that steering features are a total bonus. You and your family may not be the only ones out enjoying the freshly fallen, precious Sierra Nevada resource we all love.

That said, here are a few courtesy reminders:

It is a treat to see so many families making use of these majestic mountains, staying active and creating new memories. That’s exactly what we want for visitors and locals alike during the sledding season. Please show respect to the mountains and the community by cleaning up after your family activity. It is disheartening to drive by the notorious meadow-that-shall-not-be-named, known by locals as Hospital Hill. This popular sled spot is traditionally riddled with shards of sled debri, coffee cups, and a myriad of other trash. Remember, the most basic rules of thumb around here say, “pack it in, pack it out” and “leave no trace.” Moonshine Ink has joined the worldwide #TrashTag movement, encouraging our readers with tantalizing prizes to post “before” and “after” photos on social media when you clean up an outdoor area that needs some TLC. Let’s apply that same care to our sledding adventures! Keeping those principles in mind, we will all have the added benefit of setting an example for the observant younger generation. Little steps go a long way. 

Have fun out there! Keep warm and dry! And, beware the saucer!

LOCAL LUGE: Want to try something different? It’s a long way from the top on this remote run in Tahoe Donner. (Arrow shows the start of the journey). Photo by Matt Scott 
So where should you plan your next sled adventure?

Free and legal

Incline Village Snow Play Area; Mount Rose Snow Play Area; North Tahoe Regional Park

If you feel like paying (with a spin – courtesy of friendly tubing staff)

Granlibakken Tahoe’s Sled Hill; Boreal Mountain California’s Tahoe Tubing; Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows’ SnoVentures Activity Zone; Tahoe Donner’s Snowplay; Northstar California’s tubing hill; Soda Springs Mountain Resort’s Tube Town; Tahoe City Winer Sports Park’s sled hill

Do NOT sled on the side of the freeway or in rest areas 

California Highway Patrol information officer Pete Mann told Moonshine Ink about invisible frozen lakes near the Donner Summit rest stops, saying “every year we do a bunch of rescues.” He continued: “In all honesty, if it seems like a bad idea, it’s probably a bad idea … pay attention to your surroundings and what’s going on out there.”

FUN FACT: Your sled can be used year-round! Bring it home, slap kids, coolers, and totes on it while going to and from your picnic or day on the sand or grass, making lugging all that gear a breeze!
Victory: Reach the top of your sled hill just to slide down it and have to make the trek back up. Photo by Becca Loux/Moonshine Ink

Main Image Caption: SEARCHING for the perfect sled hill can take time, but at least there are friends to talk to and hot chocolate waiting back home. Photo by Becca Loux/Moonshine Ink