Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Family Tube Park Review (Calgary, Kananaskis, Banff, and Lake Louise)

There are 4 different tube parks to visit between Calgary and Lake Louise, all located at family-friendly ski resorts. Each one is awesome and fun in its own way, with slight differences and advantages depending on your family's need for speed or desired thrill factor.

Wanidu Tube Park at Nakiska Ski Area, Kananaskis 

What to Expect at a Tube Park 


Tubing is a great activity for the whole family with no previous experience required. It's relatively gentle on adult bodies (unlike regular sledding,) and resorts test their parks regularly to make sure the runs are safe. (They'll make sure for example that you won't go flying over a berm at the end in icy conditions.)

Another great thing about tubing (over traditional sledding) is that you won't have to walk up the hill at the end of each ride down. There's always a magic carpet lift to get you (and your tube) to the top of the hill.


Basic required gear:

  • Warm winter clothing - ski pants and a warm coat, winter boots, waterproof mittens or gloves, and a warm toque or hat.

  • A helmet! Required for children at all resorts, and recommended for adults as well. And it's best to bring your own helmets with you if you have ski helmets. If you don't have helmets, you can usually rent them at the resort.

  • Ski goggles - Recommended if it's windy or cold.


Basic Rules and Guidelines:


  • Ski boots are not permitted in tube parks so make sure you have normal winter boots with you if planning a combo ski/tubing day.

  • All participants have to ride in their own tube (family tubes at Winsport in Calgary aside.) You can usually slide down together with friends or family members though by holding on to each other's tube.

  • I personally would not recommend tubing as a "great activity" for pregnant women or for people with neck or back conditions. Other red flags "could" include recent surgeries, high blood pressure, or problems with vertigo/dizziness. Overall though, if you are healthy and can handle a bit of light jarring to your body, tubing is a lot of fun for the whole family.

  • Every tube park has individual height/age restrictions that should be consulted before visiting the resort. Most tube parks do have slower lanes though, practice lanes for beginners, or a means of making your ride a bit slower if visiting with young kids.

The Sunny Tube Park at Lake Louise 


Below is an overview of the four tube parks located within an easy driving distance from Calgary.


The Acura Tube Park at Winsport's Canada Olympic Park, Calgary



Height and age requirements - The minimum height requirement is 36 inches tall. Children between 36 inches and 42 inches may tube with an accompanying adult in a separate tube, holding on to the child’s tube during descent. Children over 42” tall may tube on their own.

Also note that children under the age of 12 must be under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian at all times. That being said, I have sent my 8-year old son up the magic carpet on his own to slide down with his tube (while I supervised below with a hot chocolate) and have never gotten in trouble for it. I think the "key" is making sure you are actively at the sliding hill watching your kids at all times, and that you've made sure your child knows what he/she is doing, knows how to ride the magic carpet safely, and is going to listen to all instructions given by park attendants.


Cost - Adults pay $27.99 for a two-hour pass. Seniors and youth (6-17) pay $20.99. Preschool aged kids (5 and under) pay $9.99.  A two-hour family pass is $89.99.

Visit the Winsport website for tube park hours and all other information.

Acura Tube Park, Winsport's Canada Olympic Park, Calgary



What sets this tube park apart from the others - First, the Acura Tube Park is the largest of its kind of Western Canada. They now have 12 sliding lanes (up from 9 last winter.)

Second, Speed! When I visited the park recently, I was clocking speeds of 50+km/hour.

Third, this is the only tube park I know of with its own snack/beverage bar on site with bathrooms at the base of the sliding hill. Winsport has definitely taken care of everything to ensure you'll be able to spend your full two hours in the park without having to leave for anything.

Snack bar at the base of the Acura Tube Park in Calgary

New this season - Winsport has added more sliding lanes (12 lanes this winter from 9 last year) and has made them longer for faster sliding.

They have also built a snack bar at the base of the sliding hill so that you can grab a warm hot chocolate, coffee, or quick snack without having to return to the main lodge. They've also included heated bathrooms with the snack bar.

Finally, new this year is the "family tubes," giant blue tubes that allow four people to ride down the hill together in the same tube. We didn't try one when we were recently there as it was just my son and I, but we hope to try it this winter when Dad can come along with us some weekend.





What I like best about this tube park - The Acura Tube Park is a great "intermediate" tube park after you've tried some of the more "mellow" ones such as Lake Louise or Nakiska. Head to Winsport when you're ready for some serious speed and a decent thrill! (Note they do have discs they can place under your tube if you'd like it to slide more slowly rather than racing down at 50+ km/hours.

My son has gotten a bit "spoiled" after trying out a variety of tube parks (multiple times) every winter. He still finds the Winsport park to be very exciting though and never gets tired of spending a half-day here. I can't say the same for some of the other beginner parks where he gets bored after a few runs.

The Acura tube park is a great "stand alone" park where you could visit Winsport just for the tube park and not feel like you had to have come for the skiing as well.

Finally, I love the new snack bar at the bottom of the park. It means that I can go grab a hot chocolate or coffee and "supervise" from the bottom of the hill once I've had my fill of sliding (because let's be honest, the kids could slide for hours!!)

Sliding down the very fast lanes at the Acura Tube Park

Other activities to enjoy in the area (aside from the obvious downhill skiing) - Winsport has a variety of winter activities including public bobsleigh, luge, skeleton, and ice skating.

We recently tried the luge and it was a lot of fun. (See one of my son's runs below.)




Wanidu Tube Park at Nakiska Ski Area, Kananaskis 



Height and age requirements - Children must be 42" tall or 3+ years old with an adult (riding in their own individual tube.)

Cost - $21.95 for adults, $19.95 for youth (13-17) and seniors, $17.95 for children (5-12,) and free for children under 5 with a paying adult. Tube park passes are valid for a two hour period from your first scan.

Visit the Nakiska website for tube park hours and all other information.

Wanidu Tube Park at Nakiska Ski Area 

What sets this tube park apart from the others - If you have already purchased a lift ticket you can purchase a tubing ticket for an additional $10 for adult, senior & youth or additional $5 for children.

This makes for affordable family tubing and I'm now thinking we'll definitely hit up the tube park over the Christmas holidays. After all, at $15 for my son and I to add tubing on to our ski day, it's pretty affordable. (We'll just have to skip the lodge cupcakes and coffee!)


What I like best about this tube park - I think this is an excellent tube park for young children and "tube park newbies." There are only 3 lanes (and they aren't very long) so it's a good beginner experience that won't intimidate anybody. I'd personally bring my 3 year old child here before taking them to a larger park like Winsport.

I also like that the tube park is located right beside the beginner ski area (the bunny hill.) And, it's free to ski in the beginner area (with a special beginner pass from the day lodge.) Tubing would make for a great add on with young children who tire of skiing after an hour or two. (And could be a good treat or reward for good effort on the bunny hill.)

Gorgeous scenery at the Wanidu Tube Park in Kananaskis 


Other activities to enjoy in the area (aside from the obvious downhill skiing) - There is a normal sledding hill at the Village behind the Delta Kananaskis Lodge (assuming there is enough natural snow for sliding.) There's also a small skating pond at the village. Come out for a couple hours of tubing and then go down to the village for a skate, a coffee in the Delta Lodge, and a short walk around the resort grounds.

Also, NEW this season at Nakiska, you can now sign up for a guided snowshoe tour at the ski hill. More information on snowshoeing at Nakiska can be found here.

Finally, you can add some cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or winter hiking to your day trip by exploring any of the trails starting from Kananaskis Village or Ribbon Creek down below. The trailhead for Troll Falls is a short drive from Nakiska as well.

Follow this link for more information on snowshoeing in Kananaskis.

Also check out Ten Reasons to Spend Time at Kananaskis Village this Winter. 


Troll Falls near Kananaskis Village 


Tube Town at Mount Norquay, Banff



Height and age requirements - Children must be 42″ tall and 4+ years to use the tube park. (note this is a higher age and height requirement than the other three area resorts.)

Cost - $30 for adults, $25 for youth (13-17) and seniors, and $20 for children (4-12.) Children under 4 years of age can not use the tube park. Tube park passes are valid for the day.

You can also purchase a family pass for $90 (two adults and two children) with additional children added on for $15. ($20 for additional youth.)

Visit the Mount Norquay website for tube park hours and all other information.


Tube Town at Mount Norquay, Banff 


What sets this tube park apart from the others - Visitors can add a sightseeing ride on the North American Chair on to their tubing pass for a small additional cost. The 10 minute ride up the chair provides for scenic views over Banff, and then a hot drink or snack awaits at the top in the Cliffhouse Bistro (additional charges apply if ordering food or drinks.)

Tubing + Sightseeing packages are $45 per adult, $38 for youth and seniors, and $30 for children. A family combo package is $139.


New this season - The new tube park this year also has a small sliding area, and a kids play area for the little ones.

Also new this season is the "toilet bowl" lane where you'll finish your slide with a spin at the bottom (see the video below.)  - and this is definitely on our list to try over the holidays!




What I like best about this tube park - The Tube Town Park is a great "intermediate/advanced" tube park after you've tried some of the more "mellow" ones such as Lake Louise or Nakiska. Head to Mount Norquay when you're ready for some serious speed and a decent thrill!

As I said earlier, my son has gotten a bit "spoiled" after trying out a variety of tube parks (multiple times) every winter. He would definitely spend hours at Norquay though and it's time for us to revisit this park for sure!

Finally, The Tube Town Park is a great "stand alone" park where you could visit Norquay just for the tube park and not feel like you had to have come for the skiing as well. Add a sightseeing ride up to the Bistro and you've got a full day of family fun over the holidays.

Getting ready to slide down the Tube Town Park at Mount Norquay


Other activities to enjoy in the area (aside from the obvious downhill skiing) - As already mentioned, add a sightseeing tour and lunch at the Cliffhouse Bistro onto your tubing package.

You'll also be conveniently located near the Town of Banff if you want to add on to your day in the mountains with a visit to the hot springs, a ride up the Banff Gondola, or a walk on one of the town trails.

Banff Adventures sells a good combo package which includes a sleigh ride or tubing pass, a Banff Gondola pass, and a hot springs pass.

Hiking above the clouds at the Banff Gondola 


Sunny Tube Park, Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff 



Height and age requirements - Children must be at least 3 years old to ride in the tube park. And as with all tube parks, all children are the responsibility of their parents or guardians at all times. (even though it would be super tempting to sit on the sunny lodge patio with a beer while the kids were sliding!)

Cost - $30 for adults, $25 for youth (13-17) and seniors, $20 for children (6-12,) and free for children ages 3-5. Tube park passes are valid for the day.

A family pass for up to four people is $85. ($15 add on price for additional children.)

Seasons pass holders get FREE tubing.

SkiBig3 Season Pass holders, Rocky Mountain Passport holders, and Super Pass holders pay just $10 for child tubing day passes and only $15 for adult tubing day passes.

Lake Louise Plus Card holders pay only $5 for a tubing day pass.

Other discounts are available if you have a valid lift ticket for the day.


Visit the Lake Louise website for tube park hours and all other information.


Tubing at the Sunny Tube Park, Lake Louise 


What sets this tube park apart from the others - This is definitely a tube park for skiers and snowboarders who already have a lift ticket for the day, a seasons pass for the resort, a Louise plus card, or another applicable pass or discount card. There are great discount deals to be had for affordable tubing (or even free tubing with your seasons pass.)


What I like best about this tube park - This is not really a "Stand alone" park where you'd drive to Lake Louise just for the tubing.  I also can't imagine you'd spend more than an hour in the small sliding area. That being said though, I think this is an excellent tube park for young children and "tube park newbies." There are only 2 lanes (and they aren't very long) so it's a good beginner experience that won't intimidate anybody. I'd personally bring my 3 year old child here before taking them to a larger park like Winsport.

This is also a great alternative to Mount Norquay if you want to go tubing in Banff with smaller children (since kids have to be 4+ to slide at Norquay.)

Great scenery from the Sunny Tube Park at Lake Louise


Other activities to enjoy in the area (aside from the obvious downhill skiing) - I highly recommend a guided snowshoe tour while at the resort if you are not a skier (or even if you are a skier but want to change it up for the day.)

You can read about our snowshoeing adventure at Lake Louise last winter here: Family Guide to the Lake Louise Ski Resort. 

You can also purchase a sightseeing gondola / tubing combo package if you want to get up the mountain for some awesome views but don't want to go skiing or snowshoeing.

And for cross country skiers, I recommend reading Family Cross Country Ski Trips - Our Favourite Destinations Near Calgary

And check out this story as well - Family Cross Country Skiing at Lake Louise.   


Snowshoeing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort 


Other Tube Parks in the Canadian Rockies


New for 2017-2018, Panorama Mountain Resort has a small tube park operational on Friday and Saturday nights. When we were there, they were still working out a few kinks (and weren't even scanning passes, so in theory you could have just enjoyed the park at no cost.)

While this park is very small with one short sliding lane, what sets it apart from the others reviewed in this story is the "lack of official rules." And while some will find this shocking or scary, kids will love it! You can ride down on your belly if you want, and you can even take a running start. There are many options for how to enjoy this park. Just make sure you don't get up too much speed (I crashed through the snow fence at the end.)

While small, it is a fun add-on at the end of the day if you've been skiing and are staying in the Village overnight. And you can go straight to dinner after in your snow pants and outerwear.

The new tube park at Panorama Mountain Resort



Pin Me to save for later and share with your friends.





Disclaimer: We have received free tubing at each of the resorts included over the past several years. As always, all opinions are my own and I wasn't paid to write this review. 

3 comments:

  1. Awesome info! We were considering taking our two-year old twins on a winter trip to the area, but we weren't sure what the age restrictions were for sledding. Do you think it'd be worth waiting until they were three or at least taller to make the most out of the trip?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brandon, I don't know how far you are traveling from, but for sure the twins won't remember much of the trip at this age and it's always tricky finding family-friendly activities to do in the winter with young kids. You can go skiing if you've started the kids skiing (but otherwise, they'll likely be in day care while you're out on the hill.) Feel free to send me an email if you want at koob.tanya@gmail.com

      Tanya, Rockies Family Adventures

      Delete
  2. this is so awesome thanks for all the valuable information and great recommendations!

    ReplyDelete

ShareThis