A “Tubetacular” Experience

New summer tubing hill at the YMCA of the Rockies in Granby, Colo., puts Snow Mountain Ranch on the map for family fun 

Photos by Michael Mundt

The summer tubing hill at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colo., is one of only three in the U.S. Photo by Michael Mundt

     If there’s one thing I could name that I, as a mom, dislike about winter tubing/sledding, I’d say practically everything.

     After all, there’s a ton of overhead required of parents, from dragging out seemingly endless pieces of warm clothing to wrangling children into said clothing, then slogging over to the hill in frigid temps. All for maybe 20 minutes of winter merriment before your little darlings whine, “Mommy, I’m COLD!”

     But a summer tubing hill? Snow Mountain Ranch (SMR) in Granby, Colo., has the right idea.

     Unveiled in July 2014, the tubing hill at the YMCA of the Rockies near Winter Park Ski Resort is a $2.8 million endeavor that took about a year to complete. The first element of a master planned, 22-acre Family Adventure Park, SMR’s 300-foot-long summer tubing hill is the first of its kind in Colorado and one of only three in the U.S.

     And if there’s one thing I could name that I love about it? Everything.

     Not only does it eliminate the difficulties of winter tubing, but it also appeals to those who might not want to venture into the cold. From Grandma and Grandpa to kids as young as 3 years, the summer tubing hill promotes the YMCA’s mission to bring families together.

     “It’s one of those activities that the whole family can enjoy,” says SMR Center Director Trueman Hoffmeister. “It is fast enough to get the adrenaline pumping but not too scary for the non-thrill seekers.”

      And even though there’s no snow, the experience is as authentic as its wintertime counterparts.

     “It’s like a rug but different,” my youngest son, Colin, 6, describes. “And they make it wet so you can go a lot faster.”

     That “rug” is made from a stiff, turf-like material called Snowflex, meant to mimic soft snow. The “wet” part comes from 200 mist nozzles that make the hill slippery and, to me, feels like snow splashing on your face as you zip down the hill. And at the bottom awaits a 200-foot-long Magic Carpet to transport you up for more tubing fun.

     In addition, at the hilltop are concessions and restrooms, as well as picnic tables and music pumping from a sound system, creating a festive, family-friendly atmosphere.

     And now launching plans for Phase 2 of the project, SMR intends to create more family-bonding opportunities to the tune of $11 million (primarily via donations).  First up is Spruce Saddle Adventure Zone, offering multi-generational equipment such as a new zip line and rock-climbing wall. Other plans include play areas and a giant swing that drops 50 feet.

     In the meantime, my boys are sold on SMR, made clear when both declared independently of each other, “I can’t wait to go back!”

     Brody offered yet more superlatives.

     “Best day in the mountains. EVER,” says my 8 year old.

     And the tubing hill?

     “Awesome,” he says. “That’s all I can say. Just awesome.”

YMCA of the Rockies: A Recipe for Exhausting the Kiddos

As parents we all know half the battle of surviving summer lies in keeping our kids busy. Yes, that means keeping them engaged and learning. A big “yay” for getting them involved in their world and developing kind human beings!

Now let’s tell the truth: the idea is to drive them to sheer exhaustion so they don’t complain of boredom; fight with their siblings; or just plain drive us parents insane with rage. Especially on vacation.

A good solution? Check out the YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park or Granby, Colo. Having visited both locations with our kids, I cannot recommend them highly enough for vacation destinations, particularly for families with children and family reunions.

Not only do both offer a stunning backdrop of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and an array of lodging options—including camping areas and yurts at the Granby location—but there is also SO. MUCH. TO. DO. And it’s all in one spot.

Case in point, a recent 36-hour snapshot of our visit to Snow Mountain Ranch, starting around 5 p.m. on a Sunday:

Eat dinner at cookout – hayride (marshmallow roasting and hot chocolate drinking) – sleep – eat – ride tubing hill – eat – canoe/fish at Gaylord Reservoir – roller skate – swim – eat – collapse in our beds!

Things we wanted to but couldn’t during our short stay? Hike to a waterfall, ride horses, make crafts, play tennis and basketball, try archery, watch kids race at the tricycle park, and take a night hike, to name a few. (Oh, and send the kids to ALL-DAY CAMP so Michael and I could experience the activities without the pleasure of hearing the boys argue!)

And that doesn’t even address all of the winter activities available to visitors, from dog sledding (Granby) to cross-country skiing.

So if I haven’t made it abundantly clear, two days simply isn’t enough to sample all of the fun to be had at the YMCA. But regardless of the length of stay, it’s sure to be a recipe for exhaustion—for you and the kids.