You don't need to take lessons. There's no expensive equipment to buy. And your shins won't ache at the end of the day. It's no wonder, then, that in New England, snow tubing has become a popular alternative to skiing. For families, it's a money-saving option, too: Tubing passes are cheaper than lift tickets at even the most affordable ski areas in the region. With dozens of tubing parks in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, families and thrill-seekers in New England are never too far from fast-paced fun.
Although other New England states tend to rank higher in winter sports popularity, Connecticut is not without its own tubing fun (even if it does have only one inner tube-friendly resort). As it turns out, that one resort is almost smack dab in the center of the state—not near the Berkshires, where it would perhaps be more expected—making it easier to access from New York.
- Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort: Tubing at this Middlefield ski area typically opens during the second half of December and offers varying degrees of thrill and adventure every weekend (Friday through Sunday) of winter. The park features multiple tubing runs, including one extreme trail going all the way down the mountain, and on certain nights throughout the season, neon lights illuminate them for night tubing (tickets are required). Helmets are provided free of charge.
Stretching farther north than any other Northeastern state, Maine is one of the most consistently cold states in the U.S. During winter, highs rarely rise above freezing and the state gets 50 to 70 inches of snow along the coast and up to 110 inches inland. January is the snowiest month and therefore most conducive to tubing.
- Seacoast Adventure: On December 26, 2020—weather permitting—Seacoast Adventure in Windham will open its range of "intense" tubing lanes and convenient carpet lift to the top. The park's snowmaking capabilities ensure good conditions for sledders, and music and lights make it a fun night hangout, too. Warm up with a hot beverage at the Deck House Coffee Shop after an afternoon on the slopes.
- Sunday River: The lift-serviced Tubing Park at Sunday River ski area in Newry is available every Friday and Saturday night after Christmas Day, conditions permitting, plus select holidays. Tickets (limited in 2020) grant access to two lighted lanes.
Massachusetts resorts are frequented by the Boston crowd, and some are conveniently located within an hour's drive of the city. Nashoba Valley Ski Area and Ski Ward are naturally busy on weekends due to their proximity to Beantown, but they make for great single-day escapes when the winter blues kick in regardless.
- Ski Butternut: A tubing outing at the Ski Butternut Tubing Center in Great Barrington is the perfect cabin-fever beater during winter. The park's 14 groomed lanes, open as soon as conditions permit, are exhilarating and fun for people of all ages. In 2020, tickets are limited and available for pre-purchase online only.
- Berkshire East: In Charlemont, the moving ground lift at Berkshire East's tubing area takes all of the work out of climbing back up the hill after each run. The park has three groomed lanes, each 500 feet long, open on weekends and holidays throughout the season.
- Nashoba Valley Ski Area: Nashoba Valley's Tubing Park in Littleton operates seven days a week (nights, too) for round-the-clock action. With 18 tubing lanes, four lifts, and an on-site lodge, it's a premier tubing destination in New England and the closest tubing location to Boston.
- Ski Ward TubaSlide: The TubaSlide at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury is equipped with two lifts and up to 10 lanes, offering tubing excitement daily for ages 6 and up, given participants meet the 42-foot height requirement. Active duty military personnel and seniors save 50 and 20 percent on tickets, respectively.
New Hampshire Tubing
A day of tubing in the White Mountains and surrounding area is best when topped off with a side trip to Ice Castles, Lincoln's beloved seasonal showcase of artfully carved sculptures, slides, thrones, and fountains. Although many of the state's skiing and tubing areas are located in this region, there are at least a couple—Granite Gorge, Pats Peak—in the southern part of the state, making them highly accessible from Boston, Massachusetts, and Albany, New York.
- Cranmore Mountain Resort: The holy grail of New Hampshire winter activity, this North Conway resort features 10 tubing runs, two lifts, snowmaking, and lights in addition to a mountain coaster, swing rides, and a 700-foot zip line. It welcomes guests of all ages, though you have to be 42 feet tall to ride solo.
- Granite Gorge: New England's rock-and-roll snow tubing park in Keene has a full-mountain sound system, lighting for night tubing, and both single and two-person tubes. Granite Gorge allows tubing for kids ages 5 and up. Cosmic Tubing from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays makes for a high-energy date outing.
- King Pine: The groomed chutes of Pine Meadows Snowtubing Park at King Pine Ski Area in East Madison are perhaps the cheapest place to tube in the region. Tickets are just $15 for a one-hour session during the 2020-2021 season.
- Loon Mountain: You'll find tubing excitement (and chairlift service) day and night at Loon Mountain in Lincoln. For a heart-pumping experience, start at the top of the Little Sister trail and descend down nearly 1,000 feet of mountain, dropping 250 vertical feet all the while. A separate tot tubing area is available for children under 8.
- Pats Peak: You must lay down on your belly if you want to tube at this Henniker tubing park, spanning a 600-by-85-foot area. Here, groups can rent the entire tubing park for private events, but public tubing sessions are available Friday through Sunday and during holiday vacation weeks.
When it comes to winter sports in New England, Vermont is the holy grail. Nicknamed the Green Mountain State, it's packed with peaks and hills and consistent cold temps, resulting in perfect conditions all winter. An average of 80 to 100 inches of snow fall here every year.
- Grafton Trails & Outdoor Center: Although this outdoor sports destination in Grafton is primarily a Nordic skiing center, tubes are available for rent for use on a single, scenic, 600-foot run. It opens December 19, 2020.
- Magic Mountain: This Londonderry resort is mostly known for its 1,500-foot vertical ski drop, but it also has a tubing area, located next to the lodge. You can tube all day for a flat fee on weekends and during holiday periods, or for a discounted price if you arrive after 3 p.m.
- Mount Snow: With eight lift-serviced lanes of tubing action, Mount Snow's tubing hill offers a fun, no-skills-necessary alternative to skiing. It claims to have one of the biggest hills in Vermont, located at the base of Mount Snow between the Main Base Lodge and the Grand Summit Resort Hotel.