Firsthand Report: Tubing at Ski Roundtop 1
By Sean Oser, Guest Author and Food Critic

After waking up and looking out the window on Saturday January 10, 2009, having dreamt the night before of the Winter Storm Watch calling for 6 or more inches of snow in the York-Harrisburg area, it was with great disappointment that I saw about a half inch of snow. I logged on to check the weather and saw that the Winter Storm Watch had been replaced with a Winter Weather Advisory, and that we might get another inch of snow, but mostly sleet and freezing rain.

Mid-afternoon, still disappointed by not being able to sled at home, the family decided to go sledding anyway, at the Snow Tubing area at Ski Roundtop. It was a fairly easy decision to reach, not requiring as much preparation as a ski outing, needing much less equipment (and moderately less money). After the short drive through a modest snow shower, we signed our lives away and bought our tickets. We were easily talked into the $22 two-hour tickets over the $18 one-hour tickets, grabbed a tube apiece, and went to stand in line.

Empty slopes on a Saturday. Photo provided by Sean Oser.

The line moved pretty well, and we quickly saw that it seemed to be the only line around. We got to watch 3 ski slopes converge at a chairlift, where there was no line at all. Odd, I thought, at 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon. The slopes were almost empty too. I had expected it to be quite crowded, and immediately regretted the decision not to ski. I watched the skiers with envy, then realized that something was missing. I had expected to hear the telltale Mid-Atlantic edge-on-ice scraping that is magnified by the cold, dry air. Instead, though, I heard silence punctuated by sweet, soft swishing and schussing as my envy deepened. Even the fuller rumbling and scraping of snowboards was absent, as they, too, just glided down the slopes.

Afternoon tubing at Ski Roundtop. Photo provided by Sean Oser.

But tubing was great fun too! The line moved well, the Magic Carpet ride up the hill was easy, and the tubing hill was in great shape - at least the open lanes were; the 3 closest lanes were closed for a bit of exposed ground near the bottom. My wife and young children stuck to the first two open lanes, with smooth, brisk rides down the hill, smiling children, then running to get back in line and ride up the hill again. Then we were lured by the lack of wait to tube down the third lane. This proved to be our only misstep. If you are more adventurous, try the third lane in (might not be the third now, but counting the closed ones, I guess it would be sixth); it was bumpier and rougher, and - after we reached the bottom, with some tears from the kids - heard others’ comments about “catching air” in that lane. Sounds like fun, had the kids not been along.

Ski Roundtop’s tubing runs, serviced by a covered Magic Carpet lift. Photo provided by Sean Oser.

After that bumpy run, we retreated to the lodge by the tubing hill. As DCSki’s official food critic, I must comment on the fare available there. Mostly brand-name candy you’ll recognize, soup, hot dogs, hot chocolate. The brownies seemed like store-bought mix, but I like those kinds of brownies, and they were quite large - and soft! The coffee was hot, though it seems to suffer a bit of an identity crisis (see picture).

This coffee seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. Photo provided by Sean Oser.

Not surpisingly, ski lodge prices reign supreme. I guess that’s part of the experience. You could save a few dollars by bringing your own food and drink, as a couple nearby us did - they each had a stainless travel thermos, and I’ll bet they knew whether they were drinking Seattle’s Best or Starbucks.

After warming up by the roaring, residential-grade, glassed off fireplace, we returned for two more tubing runs. Warmer and wiser, we stuck to the first lane, where it was still smooth, then trudged back to the car. All in all, a fun and quick diversion, salvaging the disappointment of the snowstorm that never came.

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About the Author

Sean Oser really is an avid skier, but eats far more frequently.

Reader Comments

robbie A
January 12, 2009
The advantage to tubing with a group is that everyone is the same skill level. It provides a nice group actitity. I admit though an hour of tubing is about all the "fun" I can take.

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