Although we did lots of skiing at Keystone Resort in Colorado, the fact remains that you don’t have to be a downhill skier to have a good time. Case in point: We arrived at noon on our first day there and instead of skiing decided to give the snow tubing hill a whirl. After checking in at the base of the River Run Gondola, we rode up to the Adventure Point area at the top of Dercrum Mountain, one of the resort’s three peaks.
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There are five lanes on the hill, and Tommy immediately figured out that the one closest to the carpet lift that carries sliders back up to the top is the steepest and fastest (he then referred to it as “The Single” in homage to the more challenging trails off the Single Chair at Mad River Glen). You can ride down by yourself
or in groups of two, three, or four.
One of the very best things about the tubing hill at Keystone may be that the friendly attendants all clearly attended the Spicoli School of Management and Customer Service. They may stop short of referring to customers as “dude” but they repeatedly ask if you are having a good time. Respond in the positive and you’re likely to get a high five accompanied by a long, loud “Awwwwl right!” What Tommy loved was that he could ask them for some extra spin as they pushed him off at the top and they would happily comply so that he went simultaneously hurtling and twirling down the hill.
I specifically asked them not to spin me and also mortified Tommy by whooping my way down the hill on most of my runs. It’s nice to know that he’s getting to an age where I can embarrass him.
The laid back attitude of the attendants doesn’t stop the tubing hill at Keystone from being very well managed. Tickets are timed, and when I asked the young man behind the counter in the warming hut he said that even on busy days they don’t have more than between 50 and 60 people on the hill at a time. An attendant at the top of the lift makes sure you know when your hour is up, so all you have to worry about is having a good time. All this adds up to little waiting, lots and lots of sliding down the hill, and some fun dancing to cheerful pop tunes on the way back up the lift. We were there on a “free-for-all” day, which meant an eclectic mix of tunes (including some of Tommy’s favorites from Foster the People); Tuesdays are dedicated to music from the 1950s and on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings you can slide under flashing nightclub lights.
I’m pretty sure that Tommy is in the snow tubing hill’s key demographic. He would have spent the entire afternoon there if we let him and he really couldn’t go down that hill fast enough. I’m equally sure that Teddy is not the child this activity is aimed at. He wasn’t feeling great because of the altitude, but I’m not sure that he would have liked it anyway. Although it’s completely safe, with long flat stretches at the bottom to slow the tubes down and lots of staff to help out if you have any trouble, you do go pretty fast. He took one run down the steeper lane and said he didn’t want to do it again. I persuaded him to try the most gentle lane at the opposite end, but even that proved to be too much. So he spent the rest of the time we were there hanging out at the top of the hill.
And as you can see, this was just fine.
Snow tubing at Keystone Resort costs $31 per person per hour and you need to check in at the base of the mountain at least 40 minutes before your scheduled time (to make sure you have time to wait in line and ride the gondola to the summit, where the hill is). This is a popular activity, so during busy periods, you probably want to make a reservation in advance. Slather on the sunscreen before you go, and bring a water bottle and a snack. There are (immaculate) bathrooms immediately adjacent to the tubing area.
And finally, if you’ve got a timid child, you might want to spend your time playing in the amazing snow fort that’s right next door instead.
Vail Resorts and Keystone covered the cost of our snow tubing as well as many of our other expenses on this trip. You can always count on me to let you know when I’ve gotten something for free – and also to honestly share my opinions.