You don't have to be a snowboarder or skier to enjoy the downhill thrills on Idaho's slopes.
Tubing offers the speed, bounces and spins without expensive gear. It doesn't require skill, and it's an economical way for a family to enjoy a day on the slopes.
You can make a trip to a tubing hill as close as Bogus Basin, or take a day trip or a weekender to Garden Valley, McCall, Sun Valley or Idaho City.
Most of the tubing hills have rope tows that pull you up the hill. Basically, you're paying for a tow instead of walking, and you can get a lot more bounce for your buck.
Tubes are provided, so you just show up in warm clothes and go for a ride. Wear snow boots, and don't forget the gloves and hat. Sunglasses or goggles are also recommended.
There are minimum size restrictions for participants at some hills. Each tubing hill does things a little differently, so it's recommended that you check their websites before heading out.
On busy weekends and holidays, reservations are recommended if available.
Some areas offer other snow activities, such as Nordic skiing and snowshoeing, so check that as well and make it a multi-sport day.
Here are some details.
The Pepsi Gold Rush Tubing Hill is open Fridays through Sundays and holidays and offers two-hour tubing sessions.
The hill features an 800-foot slope near the main resort.
Prices: $12 per person for a reserved two-hour session (walk-ins are $12 per person for a two-hour session or $7 per person for an hour).
Reservations are strongly recommended; get them at bogusbasin.org.
Getting there: Drive 16 miles north of Boise on Bogus Basin Road and go past the Simplot Lodge. The hill is on the left.
Idaho X Sports in Garden Valley has three lanes that vary from "mild to wild" on its 900-foot-long slope. It's open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. The area also has Nordic and snowshoe trails.
Prices: $12 for one hour and $20 for two hours (discounts for larger groups).
Tickets are sold for one- and two-hour periods.
Getting there: Drive Idaho 55 to Banks and take the Banks to Lowman Highway to Garden Valley. About a half-mile past milepost 11, turn right onto Alder Creek Road. Cross the silver bridge, then turn right onto Freedom Ranch Road. The snow tube hill is 1 mile straight ahead.
Information: idahoxsports.com or call 462-2555.
The Activity Barn south of McCall is open 2 to 9 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets are sold for one or two hours. It has four 700-foot-long lanes. The Activity Barn also has groomed Nordic ski trails.
Prices: $8.50 for an hour and $14 for two hours. Prices go up during holidays.
Getting there: After entering McCall on Idaho 55, turn left at the stoplight on Deinhard Lane. Continue a half-mile on Deinhard to Mission Street. Take a left (south) on Mission.
Information: activitybarn.com or call 634-2222.
The tubing hill at Sun Valley Resort will be at Dollar Mountain this season.
Prices: $15, adult; $10, child (12 and under). During the resort's peak season, prices are $20 and $15, respectively. Tickets are good for one hour.
Getting there: Drive to Ketchum. The turnoff to River Run is one of the first major streets to the left at the south end of town.
Information: sunvalley.com or call 622-2245.
The Steamboat Gulch tubing hill is a walk-up slope, no tow rope. The fee pays for plowing the road and parking lot and renting portable toilets. You need to bring your own tube.
Prices: $10 per-day parking fee per vehicle.
Getting there: To get to the Steamboat Gulch tubing hill, go a mile north of Idaho City on Idaho 21. Turn right at the Pine Creek Road and go about a half-mile, turn right onto a bridge. The road will take you to the tubing hill and parking.