Most of Tahoe’s backcountry trailheads do not require a Sno-Park permit. However, Castle Peak, Carson Pass, Blackwood Canyon, and Echo Lakes all require a permit. They can be purchased for $5 daily, or $25 for the season at many retailers around Tahoe. Even if you don’t plan on skiing any of these locations, it is nice to have just in case you do.
In general, parking for backcountry skiing in Tahoe is a bit of a contentious issue. Very few legitimate Sno-Parks are available for backcountry skiers, and those that do exist are located in areas more suited to snow play than convenient places to ski back to your car. Therefore, most of the parking in this guide takes place on roadside pullouts or neighborhood streets. Although many of these locations are technically illegitimate, skiers are seldom hassled when parking with common sense. That said, you may receive a parking ticket, or worse, be towed if parking in the wrong area, especially during times of snow removal. Always look for “No Parking from November 1 to April 31” signs. Most of Tahoe’s backcountry parking is stress free, however I will always mention real parking concerns when they exist.
Also, a large chunk of the terrain in this guide is accessed from either Tahoe City or South Lake Tahoe. Both of these towns have nicknamed their largest highway junctions “The Y,” and I continue to use this nickname throughout the guide. In Tahoe City, this refers to the junction of Highways 89 and 28. In South Lake, this refers to the junction of Highways 89 and 50. This nickname is especially confusing in South Lake because Lake Tahoe Blvd comes into the “Y” and creates more of an “X.”