Outdoors Blog

Take the kids tubing at Eagle Island if they develop cabin fever during winter break

The Treasure Valley’s tubing hill has settled into its home at Eagle Island State Park — creating a winter playground that can withstand our usually above-freezing temperatures.

Gateway Park will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during winter break, which began Monday for West Ada schools. The park typically is open Wednesday-Sunday.

Gateway spent $18,000 to improve power to its park, owner Ryan Neptune said, and has a 10-year contract to operate at Eagle Island.

“It’s definitely where we want to be,” he said.

[Related: Where to go snow tubing in southern Idaho]

The tubing hill is in its fourth year. It began at Eagle Island, moved to the Ada/Eagle Sports Complex for one winter and is in its second year back at Eagle Island. Four snowguns provide plenty of the white stuff with depths as high as 20 feet around the property.

On average, temperatures are low enough in the area for snowmaking 101 days per season, Neptune said. He could make enough snow to stay open through spring break but interest usually plummets after March 1.

“It’s like an iceberg,” Neptune said. “We make it so darn deep that it takes forever to melt.”

The park has two tubing runs (a third might be added) and a beginner snowboarding/skiing hill that will have a line of jumps, a line of terrain-park features and a clear line when built out. The park was built to attract kids to snow sports. Anyone who rents snowboarding or skiing gear from a local vendor can get a free day pass for Gateway (just bring the receipt), Neptune said. Gateway doesn’t offer rentals.

A snow castle play area will be added later in the winter.

“That’s the key is to just bring them in with no expectations that they are going to ski and snowboard, and then present them the option to ski and snowboard at no additional cost,” Neptune said.

Tubers and snowboarders ride to the top of the 200-foot-long hill at Gateway on a magic carpet. The speed of the carpet can be adjusted based on how many people are at the park to prevent customers from accumulating too quickly at the top. The carpet sits between the tubing lanes and the snowboarding runs.

“The more condensed the facility, the more people have fun,” said Neptune, who opened similar parks in four other cities.

If you go: Gateway Park is inside Eagle Island State Park, 165 S. Eagle Island Parkway in Eagle (use the new entrance from State Street/Highway 44). Day tickets are $15 (including tube), with discounts for military and seniors. Kids under 3 get in free. Guests also must pay $5 per car to enter the state park or have a state parks passport ($10 per year). More info: gatewayparks.com or (208) 800-2108.