The Balsam Meadow Sno-Park is in Fresno County near Balsam Forebay, 8.5 miles north east of Shaver Lake and 55 miles east of Fresno on Ely Mountain Road. The Balsam Meadows ski park is family-friendly, and offers snow play opportunities.
Balsam Meadow is within the Sierra National Forest. Located off of Highway 168, also known as the Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway and Tollhouse Road, the road to Balsam Meadow Sno-Park passes through historic towns, recreation areas, and offers majestic views of the central Sierra Nevada foothills and mountains. Shaver Lake, Huntington Lake, Camp Edison, China Peak Mountain Resort, Dinkey Lakes Wilderness, and Kaiser Wilderness are located near Balsam Meadows.
Additional Sno-Parks located on or near Highway 168 include the Huntington Lake Sno-Park, Coyote Sno-Park, Tamarack Sno-Park, and Eastwood Sno-Park.
Snow play activities including sledding, tubing, snow-shoeing, and tobogganing are recommended at Balsam Meadow. Cross-country skiing is also allowed, though is limited. Snowmobiling is prohibited.
Balsam Meadow Sno-Park is open from November 1 through May 30. Sno-Park permits are required, and are available from several vendors nearby or on-line.
Sno-Park Permit Vendors
Permits for Balsam Meadow are available on-line from the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicular Recreation Division, or from several vendors in Fresno County:
Ken’s Market, 42137 Tollhouse Road, Shaver Lake, Ca. 93664, (559) 841-3549
China Peak Mountain Resort, 59265 Highway 108, Lakeshore, Ca. 93634 (559) 233-2500
Cressman’s General Store, 36088 Tollhouse Road, Shaver Lake, Ca. (559) 93664, (559) 841-2923
Shaver Lake Gas & Food Mart, 41801 Tollhouse Road, Shaver Lake, Ca. 93664, (559) 841-2740
Shaver Lake Sports, 41698 Tollhouse Road, Shaver Lake, Ca. 93664, (559) 841-2740
Shaverkeps Mild to Wild, 41387 Highway 168, Shaver Lake, Ca. 93664, (559) 841-7711
Young’s Shaver Lake Hardware, 41777 Tollhouse Road, Shaver Lake, Ca. 93664, (559) 841-3298
Rancheria Enterprises, 63211 Huntington Lake Road, Lakeshore, Ca. 93634 (559) 893-3234
Herb Bauer Sporting Goods, 6264 North Blackstone, Fresno, Ca. 93710 (559) 435-8600
Sno-parks provide access to cross country ski trails, snowmobile routes, and snow play areas. Sno-parks are operated by the California State Parks and Recreation Office of Highway Motor Vehicular Recreation (OHMVR) in cooperation with the United States Forest Service. The California Sno-Park Hotline can be reached at (916) 324-1222. All of the sno-parks in California are in the Sierra Nevada’s, and are open from November 1 through May 30. Sno-Parks operated by the state are designated by brown signs located along highways.
There are 19 sno-parks operated by the OHMVR, and permits are required for each one. Day permits for $5 and season permits for $25 are available from designated Sno-Park vendors, by mail from OHMVR, or on-line. On-line purchases are subject to an additional $1.95 service fee. Permits must be displayed on the left side of the dashboard, and clearly seen from the outside of the vehicle. Permits are non-refundable and non-transferable, and parking at a Sno-Park without a permit may result in a $94.50 fine. California Sno-Park permits are also valid in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.
Parking is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sanitation facilities are provided at each of the parks. Camping, littering, and over-night parking are prohibited.
The Sno-Parks are located in areas that can experience road closures in harsh weather conditions. Call CalTrans at 1-800-427-7623 or check the CalTrans website to get information on roadway conditions when planning your trip, and carry chains and a shovel. Winter recreation can be hazardous, so it is important you consider your skill level, wear proper clothing, have respect for the terrain and park rules and regulations, and adhere to posted warnings for your safety.
A printable brochure of Sno-Park locations is available from the OHMVR website and can be found here.
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