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Riding on air: It’s downhill all the way at Detroit Mountain’s new tubing area

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Thanks to a lot of work done over the summer, there's plenty of room for tubing now at Detroit Mountain.A new tubing area has been created to essentially doubled the size of the old area. There are now 10 lanes for the down...

This kid was all smiles as he started his downward run at the new tubing site at Detroit Mountain last week. Photo by Nathan Bowe.
This kid was all smiles as he started his downward run at the new tubing site at Detroit Mountain last week. Photo by Nathan Bowe.
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DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Thanks to a lot of work done over the summer, there's plenty of room for tubing now at Detroit Mountain.

A new tubing area has been created to essentially doubled the size of the old area. There are now 10 lanes for the downhill ride and two central magic carpet conveyor belts to bring people back up to the top of the hill.

"It offers an exhilarating ride," said Jeff Staley, general manager of Detroit Mountain Recreation Area.

The 500-foot ride is backed up by another 500 feet of "run out" space prior to the tree line. The treeline could come up awfully fast at times on the old tubing hill.

"The old tubing area didn't have enough run out," Staley said. "We have lengthened the run out-no matter the weather conditions, even if it's an ice rink, you'll never reach the end of the run out-it looks like it goes on forever."

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At the top of the newly-cleared tubing hill is a 2,500-square-foot lodge, built this past summer, with ticketing, concessions, a dining area with a view of the tubing hill, and two private party rooms on either side of the dining area. Like the main lodge, it is warmed with forced-air propane heat. There is also a large fire pit outside.

"The entire tubing operation has been moved over to that area," Staley said. "It will relieve congestion at the ticketing window in the ski lodge." The reason for the move was to increase capacity, he added. "We needed more room-that area just couldn't support the number of people interested in doing it."

Diane Geisen of Detroit Lakes was impressed with the new tubing site. She was there Tuesday, Dec. 27, with her husband, Keith, daughters Catherine and Christine, and Christine's two children, ages 9 and 10.

"We were going bat nuts in the house for three days," Diane said. "Somebody (on Facebook) said 'this is something new to try.'" So the family headed over to check it out.

Matt and Amber Kalvoda of West Fargo said they were happy with the tubing experience, saying it's a fast downhill ride and worth the money ($15 per person for two hours, $25 for all day).

With all the upgrades, there are also more tubes available.

"We more than doubled the number of tubes, from 85 to 215 tubes," Staley said. "And we have the capacity to double that-we could easily support 500 tubes in that area."

Tubing is largely a family activity, Staley said. "It's all families, young and old-we take most of the work out of it with the magic carpets, so they get to ride up."

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But to participate, a child must be at least 4 years old and 43 inches tall.

"It's not safe for toddlers," Staley said. "They have to be able to get in and out of the tube and move to the safe area in the middle."

Also new at Detroit Mountain are three additional ski runs, including one that starts out following the old power pole trail and then sweeps around west to end at an existing lift. The other two new runs are on the north side of the new terrain park.

All the original lift tower lights have been replaced with LED lights. "There's energy savings, and there's more stable light with the vibrations from the lift towers-you don't get that flickering at night," he said. The LED lights also provide an "instant on," he added. "The old bulbs took a while to ramp up and fully illuminate."

Detroit Mountain also purchased 10 new snow-making machines, giving it a total of 20 portable snow guns.

"We've gotten some good snowfall," Staley said. "We've also been making snow off and on since before Thanksgiving."

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