Imagine tubing down a steep slope, wearing only shorts and a t-shirt. No bulky snowsuits. No wool socks. No frozen fingers. No chattering teeth.
Starting this summer, Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies guests will not have to imagine it—they will be able to do it. In mid-July, the conference center between Granby and Tabernash is opening Colorado’s first summer tubing hill.
“We want to offer our guests a unique experiences,” said Martha Sortland, associate director of marketing and communications for Snow Mountain Ranch. “By offering new summer activities we entice more people to see what the whole county has to offer in the summer months.”
Snowflex is the British engineering company that manufactures and installs the synthetic “snow” surface. Their crew is on site installing rolls of the white bristly snow substitute over the gravel-lined slope. Made of plastic fibers resembling artificial turf but with larger bristles, the synthetic slope is stable until wet. A misting irrigation system adds the necessary moisture to make it slippery.
According to their website, “Snowflex is a real, credible alternative to snow. It is low maintenance, requires no grooming and is softer to fall on than hard packed snow.”
Places that lack natural snowfall are more common markets for artificial ski slopes. The major Snowflex project operating in the United States is Liberty Mountain in Lynchburg, Va. Most of their other synthetic snow surfaces are in Britain and Europe, but the company operates all over the world, with a slope in Lebanon.
Snowflex systems can be as complex as half-pipes and moguls, but the Snow Mountain Ranch attraction is exclusively for tubing. The tubes — both single and tandem — are the same as those used for snow tubing. The hill starts with an initial 30-foot drop-off, a steep 27 degrees. The course then has several rolling hills and a level area at the bottom to slow tubers down.
The tubing hill is free for guests staying at the YMCA. Day visitors can purchase an hour slot for $15 per person, in addition to the standard day pass. ($20 for adults, $10 for kids ages 6-12, and free for ages 5 and under.) A free local’s day for Grand County residents to try summer tubing and other family attractions is scheduled for Aug. 11, 2014. Helmets are recommended and available for no additional charge.
The tubing hill is the first phase of the YMCA’s expanding family adventure park. The next phase is a five-acre dog park, followed by a series of playgrounds featuring a wide variety of unique components, like a giant swing and do-it-yourself zip line. A second yurt village is in the works as well, because the permanent tent-like accommodations are very popular in the summer.
Sortland explained that the tubing hill is a unifying addition that can round out the summer experience for a wide variety of guests.
“Tubing is an activity that has a wide age appeal. There is excitement and adrenaline for the older kids and teens, and it’s safe for younger children over 3,” she said. The tubing hill can also be used by guests with disabilities.
The new tubing hill at the YMCA is one of six in Grand County, but the others are only available when there is sufficient snow.
“By offering new summer activities we entice more people to see what the whole county has to offer in the summer months.”
Associate director of marketing and communication at Snow Mountain Ranch