Speeding down the track in a tube at Keystone. (Keystone/Facebook)
Ski and snowboard resorts across the country continue to up the ante for activities beyond hitting the slopes – and tubing is a growing staple at many of them.
Tubing centers typically sprout up near the base area and utilizing beginner lifts like conveyors – though there’s a few up on the hill.
Most have height and age minimums, charge per session (two hours typical), offer group rates, and sometimes require viewing ticket. Often there’s a warming hut with food and drink nearby; lighted, after-dark tubing common.
Keystone puts tubing hill at top of gondola with top-of-the-continent views. Park has six lanes, conveyor lift, and is open after dark during evening ski-snowboard hours.
Tubing at Soda Springs Mountain Resort ramps up to 20 lanes and a 400-ft surface lift. The curious but not brave can buy a pedestrian ticket to watch.
Highlight at Mount Hood SkiBowl’s tubing park is Cosmic Tubing with lane lighting, laser shows and music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting at 5 p.m. on lift-served kiddie and hike-up extreme hills.
At Summit at Snoqualmie, tubers’ best option is to buy two-hour tickets in advance online and show up early. Eight-lane tubing hill is 550 feet long with 40-foot drop, located across from Summit Central.
Upstate New York’s Hunter Mountain boasts biggest park – 20 chutes 1,000 feet long served by conveyor. Overlapping two-hour sessions up capacity on weekends.
Another with after-dark tubing is Killington, which runs Fridays and Saturdays (plus holidays) until 7 p.m.
Night owls will love Boston Mills-Brandywine in northeast Ohio. The Polar Blast goes till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
For Wisconsin’s largest, head to Sunburst Ski Area in Wisconsin, with its 40 lanes and two conveyors.
More powder to carve up at Bachelor with new chair lift. (Mount Bachelor/Facebook)
The new chairlift at Mount Bachelor will bring skiers and snowboarders into gladed steeps that previously required a long hike out.
The high-speed quad named Cloudcatcher opens up what is known as Low East – a below-treeline area of 635 acres on the volcano’s southeast side. The four-seat detachable lift will rise some 1,400 vertical feet and carry up to 2,400 an hour, and provide lift-access to some six miles of trails and assorted glades on that side of the mountain.
Cloudcatcher’s top terminal will be high enough so that folks can ski or ride over to the Rainbow or Sunrise Express – or get to the Summit Express loading area. It will also eliminate the 15-20 minute hike out of Low East.
Also this summer, crews shortened the Rainbow triple chair to keep its top terminal below treeline.
“The new lift and shorter Rainbow lift will alleviate capacity on the Sunrise Express and spread people over the mountain more quickly,” Mount Bachelor’s Stirling Cobb told SnoCountry.com, noting that a busy day at Bachelor can bring 8,000 skiers and riders onto the slopes. “The new lift also is protected more from the prevailing (northwest) winds that sometimes force us to close the northwest side of the mountain.”
Mount Bachelor is scheduled to open Nov. 25, weather and snow permitting, Cobb told us.
Previously, the last lift to go up on the Oregon mountain was a replacement for the Pine Marten chair; before that, the Northwest Express debuted in 1996.
Elsewhere in Oregon, there will be new conveyor lifts at Mount Hood Meadows and Mount Hood Skibowl. At Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood, the second phase of an interior remodel is done in the Wy’East Day Lodge.