Would you like to feel the thrill of being an Olympic bobsledder? Or would you just like to enjoy some laughs with your children or grandchildren in Michigan’s winter wonderland?
Tubing is the answer, and there’s plenty of it nearby.
For approximately $10 per hour, Shanty Creek-Schuss Mountain, Boyne Highlands and Treetops can put you and your friends and family on a convenient resort tubing hill with no equipment or experience necessary.
It’s gentle and safe for all ages yet exciting for everyone. You needn’t be a skier, and you don’t even have to be staying at the resort.
At each of the resorts, you’ll be given a cushy, modified inner-tube upon which you will slide down a groomed, snowy hill, often in a track, at stomach-tickling speeds. There’s no need to climb back up the hill; once you’re at the bottom, an attendant will attach your tube to a ground-level tow-rope and you’ll simply ride back up the hill on the tube.
A five-lane tubing hill glides down the back side of Schuss Mountain, near Shanty Creek’s Cedar River Lodge in Bellaire, on an inclined area that serves as a golf driving range in the summertime. Giving tubers their pick of five distinct lanes ensures virtually no waiting in line and a varied experience each time down. All five straightaway lanes have various wavy bumps and contours with plenty of flat runoff room at the end.
Tubers at Shanty Creek-Schuss Mountain can, if they choose, grasp each other’s tube handles and slide down together in a bunch, spinning and laughing all the way to the bottom.
Shanty Creek also offers skiing at Schuss Mountain and a more private, contained series of fun runs right behind the recently renovated Summit Lodge, which is built at the top of the facility and presents a panoramic view of Lake Bellaire far below.
Non-skiers, parents, and grandparents can watch their charges on most of the hill from the comfort of the Lakeview Terrace or even their own guest room, some of which are directly next to the lifts.
“It’s great to see so many people here enjoying the resort again,” said Rodger Jabara, a popular figure in Michigan’s tourism and golf industry who has long owned and operated a ski shop at the base of Schuss Mountain. “It’s like old times again here at Shanty Creek.”
Treetops golf and ski resort in Gaylord offers what it calls “extreme tubing.” With the steepest tubing hill of the three resorts, the beginning of your ride at Treetops is like going down the first hill of a 150-foot roller coaster. With no lanes to guide them, the tubers speed down the hill like human pinballs, spinning and veering off in different directions each time, until the tubes (which may be linked together in groups) spill down into a huge natural bowl and glide to a stop.
Tubing at Treetops is just behind the inn’s parking lot, making it easily accessible not only for tubers but also for those who just want to watch the spectacle or take pictures of this scenic venue.
The tubing at Boyne Highlands, in Harbor Springs, is a winning combination of speed and terrain. Single riders slide down either of two banked tubes that rise and fall, ultimately tumbling down toward the lodge, banking steeply to the left and then curving again to the right for a wild finish.
Just as at the other tubing facilities, you can choose to ride lying flat on your stomach, so you can see what’s coming (though there’s no guarantee your tube won’t end up spinning or going down backward), or you can lie flat on your back, luge style. You can also sit up on your tube and ride down cross-legged.
The tubing runs at the sprawling Boyne Highlands are next to the bunny hill so you’ll get an up-close look at skiers in action and close to the lodge so you can warm up quickly afterward.
Conditions may vary, but you may wish to try tubing just after dark, when the track can become glazed and extra speedy.
Call ahead to schedule and reserve an hour or more of tubing time, since each of the resorts allows a certain number of riders each hour and tubing is very popular.
» www.ShantyCreek.com, (800) 678-4111
» www.Treetops.com, (888) 873-3867
» www.Boyne.com, (800) 462-6963
January 17, 2010