Best Hills and Places to Go Snow Tubing in the Hudson Valley in 2013
Snow tubing: The rising star of the slopes
Slippery slopes: Girls laugh as they ride Windham Mountain’s tubes
Photograph courtesy of Windham Mountain
If you and the kids are looking for some winter weather fun, but heading to the slopes for skiing or boarding just seems like too much hassle — or too much money — perhaps it’s time to check out a smaller slope. In recent years, snow tubing has emerged as a popular recreation for the entire family. And no wonder: It’s fun, affordable, easy, and often close to home.
Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery has what is perhaps the best-known tubing hill in the Valley. At first glance, the 800-foot former skiing hill, with two cable rope lifts and 12 groomed lanes, looks almost like an Olympic operation. “People are often surprised at how fast you can really go,” says Tom Quinlisk of Orange County Parks, noting that the large, specially designed tubes maximize the ride. “Also, at the bottom, you can just keep going for quite some distance. It’s good old-fashioned fun; anyone can do it — there is no skill required — and the best part is you don’t have to walk up the hill again.”
A 90-minute session costs $13 for Orange County residents; $18 for nonresidents. Riders must be at least 42 inches tall. While the facility does get busy, lines tend to move swiftly; one recent participant commented that 10 to 15 runs were not uncommon in the allotted time frame. Sessions run Friday from 4:30-9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Additional times are added during school holidays. The park does make its own snow, and has stadium lighting for the popular nighttime sessions.
In the lodge at the foot of the hill, riders can warm up by the giant stone fireplace while taking in the stunning views; basic snacks are available. The park also has an ice skating rink and more than three miles of cross-country skiing trails, both of which can be used for free — although no equipment is available at the park for either activity. “And of course there is the sledding hill right next to the tubing,” says Quinlisk. “That’s free too, and is great for the little kids who aren’t yet big enough to go tubing. There really is something for everyone here.”
Snow tubing proves a fun way to enjoy the winter — without breaking the bank
Photograph by Marcel Jancovic/Shutterstock
Sawkill Family Ski Center
This tiny, family-friendly ski center in Kingston, open weekends and holidays, is ideal for a quick outing. A newly improved snowmaking system and a tubing run promise to bring even more downhill delights this winter. Tubing tickets cost $15 for one hour, $20 for two hours, and $30 for three. Skiing and snowboarding are also available.
Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center
Located in Sterling Forest State Park, this 100-acre ski center offers five tubing runs on “Thrill Hill” that are more than 500 feet long. Snowmaking capabilities and lift service are available. Making online reservations the day prior to tubing is highly recommended. There are also seven downhill skiing and snowboarding trails and a terrain park. Snow tubing tickets range from $15 to $25 (depending on day and time) for a 90-minute session. Open Thursday through Sunday.
With two tows to haul you to the top of the mountain and nine tubing chutes — each nearly 1,000 feet — you are in for a wild ride at Hunter. The mountain, which also offers downhill skiing and snowboarding, ensures that fresh snow is on hand with 60 miles of snowmaking pipe. Tickets are $20 for a two-hour tubing session; group packages are available.
800-486-8376, ext. 2200; www.huntermtn.com
Here, adventure seekers rocket down a 650-foot slope in canvas-covered tubes; you can ride solo or tie up to six tubes together for a group run. Eight lanes and two tow ropes serve the tubing hill. The adventure park also offers ice skating, zip lining, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, and a new kid’s snowmobile park. Tubing costs run $20 for a two-hour session, $25 for four hours, and $15 for Friday night tubing.