Tubing adventures at Northstar

At the bottom of his first run, Anikin Allen proclaims, “This is awesome!” | Luke Allen

The days are longer, and the temperatures have been warm recently, but it’s not time to say goodbye to winter just yet.

A great spot for winter fun is Northstar California, offering many family friendly activities, on the snow and off the snow. At the top of the list for my family is skiing, snowboarding and tubing. My son Anikin is a self-proclaimed tubing expert and is excited when we suggest we go tubing at Northstar after school one day.

Anikin races down the hill, hits the hump and gets a little air. Luke and I follow him down and at the bottom Anikin proclaims, “This is awesome!” and hurries back to the rope tow to do it again.

There are two options for tubing at Northstar, one in the Village and one at mid-mountain. The day we are there, we choose to check out the mid-mountain tubing first. We park and walk through the village to the gondola, which takes us up to the mid-mountain base area. At the top we walk a short distance up a small hill to the tubing center office where we check in.

Family Fun Nights
Fridays until April 5 | 5-8 p.m.
Village at Northstar | Free

We grab our tubes and follow the black rubber mats that line the path to the rope tow that will take us to the top of the tubing lane. Anikin is up first and hands the strap on the tube to the operator. She places the tube next to the rope tow and tells him to sit down. Once he is in position, she clips the strap to the rope tow and up he goes.

My husband Luke and I ride our own tubes to the top and stand in line waiting for our turn. We watch as other people take in front of us zip down the steep hill. At the bottom, the lane pushes them to the left up a snow berm and into a sharp right-hand corner then over a hump, the tube get a little air as it travels down the other side before disappearing around the corner and down the long chute at the end.

As he gets more comfortable, Anikin Allen asks the operator to spin him faster and to give him a big push. | Luke Allen

Luke says, “Looks fast,” and as Anikin prepares for his first run, he tells him to be prepared for the hump and the potential for flight. Anikin sits down on his tube and as soon as the operator at the top gets the all clear over the radio, he gives Anikin a good push. His tube races down the hill, hits the hump and gets a little air. Luke and I follow him down and at the bottom Anikin proclaims, “This is awesome!,” and hurries back to the rope tow to do it again.

We spend the next hour taking laps, each time Anikin gets more comfortable and daring. He asks the operator, a friendly Argentinian named Luciano, to spin him fast and to give him a bigger push. Luciano asks him he wants to go super-fast and he, of course, says yes.

After our mid-mountain adventure, we take the gondola back to the village to try the Village Hike and Tube lanes. Located next to the Overlook patio area, this tubing hill is smaller than the one at mid-mountain. It has a gentle grade and a mellow left-hand turn at the bottom and is well-suited for toddlers or kids new to tubing. There is not a lift or rope tow so the little ones will have to walk their tubes to the top, but it is a short and easy climb. Parents can ride, too, or watch from a cozy spot next to a fire pit on the patio.

Anikin takes a few laps but is soon ready to get dinner. He is excited when I suggest pizza and we enjoy a delicious meal at Rubicon Pizza. After dinner, we see that the ice-skating rink is open, and we debate whether to skate. We spend a few minutes watching people skate until Anikin says he is tired but wants to come back another day to skate.

Friday Fun Nights

Friday Fun Nights are offered in the Village at Northstar every week from 5 to 8 p.m. until April 5 with free face painting, disco lights, DJs and ice skating. Indulge in sweet treats with s’mores at the firepits or build your own cupcake at the Cupcake Bar.

Complimentary s’mores are also served daily at 4 p.m. at the fire pits around the ice skating rink and do-it-yourself s’mores kits are available for purchase at the rink cabana bars. | northstarcalifornia.com