By Francesca Olsen
Backyards and sloping state parks are good, but area ski resorts are stepping up the tubing game with groomed lanes, ski lifts so kids won’t get tired, and free-running hot chocolate.
Because you don’t need to rent equipment, tubing can be a cost-effective way to fly down a mountain. Most resorts supply their own tubes, and you often don’t need a pricier lift ticket to go tubing for the day. Parents, take note: You don’t need a ski lesson to go tubing, either. Just park the car, get some tubing passes, race down the hill, and do it again.
Many resorts require a release form before hitting the slopes, and very young children (or lap children) are usually not allowed. Tubing is usually restricted to those over 42 to 45 inches tall, so measure your kids before you head to the mountain.
In the Berkshires
Three tubing lanes and a lift to take you back to the top of the hill. Head to the Tubing Barn from the parking lot; The Beastly Tube Park is to the right of the West Lodge.
Cost: Adults, $20, and children (12 and under), $15, for a two-hour block of tubing time.
Tubing is done in two-hour blocks: 10 to noon, noon to 2 p.m., and 2 to 4 p.m., so plan accordingly. Tickets are sold 15 minutes before each session begins.
Hours: Weekends during peak season.
More info: 413-339-6617; berkshireeast.com
Bousquet Ski Area
Bousquet’s tubing area is easy walking distance from the main lodge. Offers a five-lane tubing hill with a lift that takes you back up the hill. Tubes provided with cost of admission.
Cost: $18 for two hours, children 5 and older with release form; group pricing available.
Hours: Thursdays and Fridays, 3 to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 to 8 p.m.; Sundays, 10 to 4 p.m. School vacation hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 to 4 p.m.
More info: (413) 442-8316, bousquets.com
Great Barrington, Mass.
Eight tubing lanes. Tubes provided. A lift brings tubers back to the top. The Tubing Center is on the far left side of Butternut’s main parking lot and has its own ticketing building.
Cost: $20 for a two-hour session, $25 on holidays, $99 season pass
Hours: Saturdays, 10 to 8 p.m.; Sundays, 10 to 5 p.m.; $10 Friday nights (non-holiday), 5 to 8 p.m.
More info: 413-528-2000, skibutternut.com
In Southern Vermont
Grafton Trails and Outdoor Center
Grafton Ponds is an inn and 2,000-plus acre outdoor recreation center. It has a 600-foot tubing hill available for use. Get back to the top of the hill the old-fashioned way: By walking.
Cost: Tube rentals, $10 for two hours
Hours: Season opens Dec. 16. Daily, 9 to 4 p.m.
More info.: 802-843-2400, graftoninnvermont.com/grafton-trails/
Magic Mountain’s tubing lanes are located at the resort’s Base Area, and parents/guardians/guests can watch from Black Line Tavern. Multiple tubing lanes and a rope pull, with new lighting added last season.
Cost: $29 for the day; $25 after 3 p.m.; $219 season pass
Hours: On holiday weeks and weekends from 11 to 6 p.m. holiday weeks and weekends; Thursdays and Fridays, 3 to 6 p.m.
More info: 802-824-5645, magicmtn.com
West Dover, Vt.
Eight tubing lanes at the base of Mount Snow, between the Main Base Lodge and the Grand Summit Resort Hotel. A covered “magic carpet” lift brings you to the top of the hill. Buy tickets at the top of the tubing hill or any ticket window on the premises.
Cost: $20 for 90 minutes
Hours: Fridays, noon to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 to 6 p.m.; Sundays, 10 to 5 p.m.; Mondays, noon to 5 p.m.
More info: 1-800-245-SNOW, mountsnow.com
Okemo Mountain Resort
Okemo’s tubing area is off the magic carpet, in the courtyard at Jackson Gore. Purchase tickets at Resort Services Desk or the Jackson Gore ticket windows. Tubers must sign a waiver to participate.
Cost: $15 for 7 and up; $10 for 6 and under for an hour
Hours: The 2017-18 tubing hours were yet to be announced as of presstime.
More info.: 1-800-78-OKEMO, okemo.com
Francesca Olsen is a writer and musician living in North Adams, Mass. She writes for The Eagle, Banner, Journal and Reformer, and other publications.