SEATTLE — This is easy sliding. No need to strap on skis or a snowboard, and much cheaper, too. No lessons required. The learning curve is practically nil.
It's tubing — sliding down a hill in an inflated inner tube. And if you are lazy, you can do it at a tubing center that has a rope tow to pull you back up once you've reached the bottom.
Supervised and groomed runs are always safer. Here are some around the region. Since all depend on snow conditions for operation, call before you go:
—The Summit Tubing Center, near Summit Central ski area on Snoqualmie Pass. Probably the region's most popular spot for tubing. Open weekends during snow season. Four lifts. Costs can range from $5-$22 depending on your age and the day and time you go tubing. Prices include tubes; no outside equipment allowed. 425 434-6791 or http://www.summitatsnoqualmie.com/Activities/Tubing.
—Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park. Snow-play area is located north of the parking lot. Two groomed tubing runs. Bring your own flexible sled, inner tube or saucers; no hard toboggans or runner sleds. No tow. Open daily until 4:30 p.m., generally from late December through mid-March, depending on snow; supervised on weekends and holidays only. Free, after paying $15-per-vehicle park entry fee. 360-569-6575 or http://www.nps.gov/mora.
—Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. Usually has a tiny-tots snow-play area near the visitor center. Free, after paying $15-per-vehicle park entry fee. 360-565-3130 or http://www.nps.gov/olym.
—Echo Valley Ski and Tubing area, near Chelan, features three rope tows and four lanes for tubing. $10 for full day, $5 for half-day, tube included. Open on weekends from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. during snow season. 509-687-3167 http://www.echovalley.org.
—Badger Mountain Ski Hill, near Waterville, Douglas County. Tubing area is located west of the parking lot. Scheduled to open Jan. 7. Open on weekends from noon-4 p.m. during snow season. $5. No tow or tube rentals. 509-745-8273 or http://www.skibadgermt.com.
—Adams Tubing Park at Leavenworth Ski Hill, Leavenworth. 90-minutes, $17 (11 a.m.- 3 p.m.), $15 at other hours. Must use tubes provided. Rope tow. Wednesday-Sunday during snow season. 509-548-5477 or http://www.skileavenworth.com/tubing.
—Old Man Pass Sno-Park, in Gifford Pinchot National Forest (Skamania County), has a large designated tubing area. Located near Indian Heaven Wilderness Area along the Wind River Highway. Unsupervised; no rope tow. Sno-Park Pass required. For more details, check the "winter sports" section of http://www.fs.usda.gov/giffordpinchot.
—Picture Lake at Milepost 55 near Mount Baker ski area. The unsupervised tubing area is near the ski area's upper parking lot. Free. No rope tow and no tube rental. 360-856-5700.
—Suncadia Resort, Cle Elum, offers a tubing area with rope tow. Ten rides for $20, 20 rides for $35; tube provided, no private sleds allowed. 509-649-6400 or http://www.suncadiaresort.com for schedule; it's usually open Fridays and weekends during snow season.
These four Washington state parks offer groomed hills for tubing with limited or no supervision. No tubing rentals or rope tow. Sno-Park Pass and state parks Discover Pass may both be required. See http://www.parks.wa.gov/winter for more details and schedule:
—Iron Horse State Park, on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass. The tubing hill is near the parking lot, close to the Hyak trailhead.
—Lake Wenatchee State Park, near Leavenworth.
—Squilchuck State Park, near Wenatchee.
—Fields Spring State Park, in Asotin County.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun