Snow Tubing with Kids: What to Wear and More Essential Tips

Cathy Bennett Kopf Avatar

Boy pulling a snow tube dressed in warm winter clothing, one of the tips for snow tubing with kids
Photo credit: Shutterstock/Microgen

Snow tubing is the best way to have winter family fun for many reasons. A snow tubing session is relatively inexpensive, compared to skiing or snowboarding lift tickets. You don’t need any special equipment except for warm, waterproof clothing. And it’s a great activity for all ages, from toddlers to grandparents, so the whole family can participate.

You DO need to know a few things before heading off to the slopes for the first time. So we’ve gathered tips based on past tubing misadventures to help you avoid soggy socks, frozen fingers and such. Read on for the seven essential tips you need to know before taking the kids snow tubing.

Read More: 14 Places to Find Snow in the South

Essential Tips for Snow Tubing

There are definitely things you need to know before you go and your tubing destination’s website is the place to go. Check the tubing regulations and facilities carefully. For example, if you’re going snow tubing with toddlers and preschoolers (under 42″), you’ll want a park with designated tubing lanes for them or one that permits lap riders.

Sign up for email alerts to learn about special offers on tubing rates. Pay attention to the weather conditions on the website. The snow conditions for tubing are relatively immaterial since snow tubing’s not an Olympic sport…yet. Most resorts have dedicated snowmaking operations for the tubing runs. However, you’ll want to receive snow alerts to be aware of weather conditions that might impact your drive home.

Ready to tube? Here are the seven top snow tubing tips you’ll need to know.

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Mom and daughter snow tubing in Wisconsin Dells a fun thing to do in winter.
Snow tubing fun in The Dells! Photo credit: Cortney Fries

1. What Do You Wear for Snow Tubing?

The secret to all outdoor winter sports, whether you’re skiing, tubing or ice skating, is wearing the right clothing. Remember…there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing. For snow tubing, that means wearing long underwear, warm socks and waterproof outerwear and boots. Don’t forget a hat and sunglasses or goggles.

Although this may sound as if you’ll have trouble moving, like Ralphie’s little brother in “A Christmas Story,” you should be fine if you wear several thin layers rather than one bulky, comforter-like coat.

You’ll also want to cover up your hands with mittens or gloves. I asked Clinton Frantz, Director of Mountain Activities at Camelback Resort, if he recommends one option over another. “Both will work for snow tubing. As long as the gloves are comfortable, stay on and keep your hands warm – that’s what matters most,” he says.

The good thing about snow tubing attire? You don’t need to clunk around in rigid ski boots like Frankenstein!

Tips for snow tubing with kids include wearing goggles and the right outerwear like a little girls and her mom.
My daughter and me on the slopes of Colorado’s Copper Mountain. We both learned to ski on this trip but had more fun snow tubing. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

2. Choose Day Sessions at the Snow Tubing Park

For families with young children, it’s advisable to go during the day rather than trying to tube at night.

Let’s face it. All kids in snowsuits look alike. It’s much easier to keep track of yours in the light of day at a busy ski area, like Colorado’s Breckenridge or Beaver Creek. The crowds also get older and rowdier after dark.

The snow tubing park’s website is the best place to check the hours of operation.

Read More: You’ve Earned It: A Mom’s Guide to Apres-Ski

3. Keep Your Snow Tube Expectations Reasonable

Tubing sessions are usually sold in 2-hour blocks. You’ll be tempted to get your money’s worth. But your little ones, especially toddlers, might get pooped after only 2 or 3 runs. Tears are no fun at the snow tubing park. Especially in the cold. You’re also more likely to have an accident if you get tired.

My suggestion? Book a late morning tubing session. Take a few runs with the little ones and, if you have older kids, turn them loose. If your little guy/gal loves it, go up and down the tubing lanes again and again. But if he or she starts whining, head inside for a hot chocolate and mini marshmallows.

Mini marshmallows are the best.

What if your little one is afraid to try snow tubing? It wasn’t a problem for me when I took the kids for the first time. But I’ve definitely seen hesitant tubers. Frantz suggests having scared children ride with other family members to make them more comfortable while snow tubing. “At Camelback, we have double tubes or we can link single tubes together.”

family snow tubing at Camelback Resort in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains
Ask the snow tubing park to link your tubes together for more fun — and to help newbie tubers get the hang of it. Photo credit: Camelback Resort

4. Snow Tubing with Toddlers? Find a Tube Park with a Magic Carpet Lift

One way to make a day tubing more fun for everyone is to choose the right tube park for your family. And the right one, according to SheBuysTravel contributor Andrea Traynor has an essential piece of equipment. “My only tip is that if your kids are too little to carry their own snow tubes up the hill over and over (and over and over), then look for places that have a magic carpet to take you, your kid and your tube(s) back up the hill.” Andrea is Canadian; she knows snow.

5. Designate a Meeting Area Near the Tubing Lanes

If you’re taking toddlers and teens snow tubing, the older kids will try to run away from you the minute you park the car.

Before anyone sets off, pick a prominent meeting place in the tubing area and set a time. Don’t rely on calling the kids when you want to leave. I find that cell service is spotty at ski resorts. But clocks (remember those?) are usually mounted in a number of locations.

Give your older kids a 15-minute grace window before panicking if they’re late. Sometimes they’ll feel the need to squeeze in just one more run before quitting for the day, especially if they’re snowboarding with friends while you’re tubing with the littles.

Read More: Where Kids Ski Free this Season: A State by State Guide

6. Bring a Change of Clothes for After Tubing

There’s nothing better than flushed cheeks and the feeling of happy exhaustion after a day on the mountain. What’s not so fun is riding home in sweat-soaked clothes. A dry tuber is a happy tuber, and I’m not talking about potatoes!

Bring a fresh change of clothes for the kiddos – especially clean socks. Riding home in a minivan that smells like Eau de Gym Locker is not pleasant. Ask me how I know this.

Winter sports can be fun for all, if you follow these tips for snow tubing with kids.
Taking the multigenerational family snow tubing at Keystone Resort, Colorado. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

7. Make Advance Reservations for Snow Tubing

It’s essential to make advance reservations for your tubing adventure or your winter family vacation fun might end before it even begins. Snow tubing is really popular and snow tubing tickets sell out, especially on weekends and school holidays.

And, even with a reservation, you’ll want to check in for your tubing session early, says SheBuysTravel contributor Diana Rowe. During a visit to Colorado’s Keystone Resort, she and her multigenerational tubing group arrived for their session on the dot, but did not realize there was an orientation required. They lost 15 minutes of precious tubing time. You’ll also need to fill out paperwork, including waivers. If you can do that in advance online, do it.

Read More: Copper Mountain: Colorado’s Family-Friendliest Resort

Safety First When Snow Tubing

Protecting your kids from head trauma is a serious subject for parents. And the question will come up when you go snow tubing. At most winter ski areas, the helmet decision will be yours to make, although they are mandatory at some parks for riders. Helmets are generally available to rent if you don’t own them.

Information about snow sport safety for kids is available on the National Ski Areas Association website. I did not make my kids wear helmets when they were little, but the dangers of head trauma were not well publicized then.

It’s also important to use proper form when snow tubing. “Guests can either sit or lay on the tube holding onto the handles. Young children should not sit at the bottom of the tube or with their feet inside the tube,” according to Camelback’s Frantz.

He also notes that the most important safety advice is to dress warmly with the proper footwear. “Any sort of snow tubing experience requires walking through snow.”

Read More: Best Kids Snowboard and Ski Gear for Fun on the Slopes

6 responses

  1. You had me at snow tubing — fun for all ages especially this Grandma!

  2. Change of clothes is such a good idea for snow sports. I’ll never forget the time I had to ride from a ski hill for 3 hours in a car with stiff frozen jeans…brrrrr. All good tips for making sure everyone stays comfy and happy in the snow.

  3. Living in a snowy climate we typically just head to the nearest snow covered hill to sled, but you’ve inspired me to try some of the local tubing hills this winter. And, yes, I always make the kids wear their helmets sledding. Tubing is probably a bit safer but I’ve seen some pretty good sledding crashes.

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