Carson Pass has two main snowmobiling regions, each with a Snow-Park staging area, miles of groomed and ungroomed roads, and acres of open country. Silver Bear Snowmobiling Trails begin at the Iron Mountain Sno-Park about 25 miles east of Jackson. Hope Valley Snowmobiling Trails launch from the Hope Valley Sno-Park on the east side of the pass. The area around the summit of Carson Pass is closed to snowmobiling.
Two Sno-Parks along Highway 88 are designated for snowmobile use: Iron Mountain and Hope Valley.
Sno-Parks are parking areas maintained in the winter to allow people to park safely and pursue winter activities such as cross-county skiing or snowmobiling. They have pit toilets available. To use a Sno-Park you must have a permit. You can purchase a day permit for $5 or an annual pass (Nov. 1 - May 30) for $25. They are good at any California, Oregon, Washington, or Idaho Sno-Park.
In Amador and Alpine counties passes can be purchased at the following places:
Iron Mountain Sno-Park: Located at the junction of Mormon-Emigrant Trail Road and Highway 88. Restrooms. Recommended activities there
include snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, dog sledding, and snow play.
Meiss Meadow Sno-Park: Located one mile west of the summit of Carson Pass. Restrooms. Recommended activities there include cross-country skiing, dog sledding, and snow play. Snowmobiling is not allowed there.
Carson Pass Sno-Park: Located at the summit of Carson Pass. Restrooms. Recommended activities there include cross-country skiing, dog sledding, and snow play. Snowmobiling is not allowed there.
Hope Valley Sno-Park: Located at on Blue Lakes Road close to Highway 88. Restrooms. Recommended activities there include cross-country skiing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling.
Staging Area: Iron Mountain Sno-Park (shown right)
Distance: 36 mile loop
Depending on snow levels and weather conditions, 20-55 miles of groomed routes in the Silver Bear snowmobile trail system are maintained throughout the winter. The System consists of several out and back and loop trails suitable for day outings. The trails are marked with international symbols and orange diamond-shaped signs.
Staging Area: Hope Valley Sno-Park
Distance: 1 - 11 miles
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Much of Hope Valley is open to snowmobiling, but there are areas that are not. For some of the routes listed below snowmobile riders must stay on the designated trail. It would be helpful to pick up the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest's Winter Recreation Guide for the Carson Ranger District, available at the Carson Ranger District office, 1536 S. Carson St., Carson City, Nevada.
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Carson Ranger District Winter Recreation Guide and Map
Snowmobiling on Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway (Highway 4) is among the best in the Sierra. Strike out from the SnoPark near Bear Valley and head up the pass for spectacular riding and scenery. The SnoPark at the Spicer Meadow Road turnoff is the staging area for all the routes out to Spicer, Union and Utica Reservoirs. Find complete information at Ebbetts Pass Adventures.
A short distance to the north, Echo Summit (Highway 50), has more places for snowmobiling. Follow the
Mormon Emigrant Trail Road or visit Crystal Basin.
Read about your choices on
Discover Echo Summit.
Snowmobilers on Sonora Pass (Highway 108) make the journey up the Sonora Pass highway from the SnoPark near Strawberry an annual event. Read about it at Sonora Pass Vacations.