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
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.”