Ski areas add snow-tube slopes Downhill: Resorts gear up for the cheap and easy new sport that is fast becoming another popular winter activity.

January 14, 1996|By Bert Fox | Bert Fox,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

When Jack Frost ski resort in Blakeslee, Pa., opened a slope for snow tubing last year, it was something of an experiment.

"We put in three chutes and bought one lift, and we really didn't have high expectations for the first year," said Melanie Murphy, general manager of Big Two Resorts -- Jack Frost and its nearby sister slope, Big Boulder. "But people just poured in. It was unbelievable. We ended up doing in the first two weeks what we had anticipated in the whole season."

Jack Frost and Big Boulder are ready for this year, along with a couple of other Pennsylvania mountains that are jumping on the tubing bandwagon.

Will snow tubing soon pass in popularity that other relatively new winter sport where baggy-clothed boys slam down ski slopes on big, colorful boards? Probably.

It's cheaper -- $15 for a full day or $10 for a half. And it requires very little athletic prowess; even an absolute couch potato ought to be able to sit in the middle of a canvas-covered inner tube.

The operation is simple. Each tube has a handle sewn into the canvas covering. The handle attaches to a drag lift that moves slowly and low to the ground, pulling the tuber uphill in the tube.

The runs are about 800 to 1,000 feet at Jack Frost, and from 1,000 to 1,200 feet at Big Boulder, said Ms. Murphy -- as big as or bigger than that neighborhood hillside we all remember from childhood.

The number of downhill skiers is not growing, but snowboarder visits to ski resorts have increased about 17 percent in each of the last three years, according to a 1994 study called the Kottke National End of Season Survey.

More than 50 percent of the nation's snowboarders are under 17, while most Alpine skiers are between 25 and 34, according to another study done last year for the National Sporting Goods Association.

Here is a list of ski areas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

L The lift-ticket prices are based on the adult day-pass rate.

* Alpine Mountain, Analomink, Pa., (717) 595-2150. Snowboarding park. Lift rates weekdays, $23; weekends and holidays, $29.

* Big Boulder, Blakeslee, Pa., (717) 722-0100. Cross-country trails, snowboarding park and half-pipe. Snow tubing. Night skiing and tubing. Lift rates weekdays, $30; weekends and holidays, $38.

* Blue Marsh, Bernville, Pa. (near Reading), (610)-488-6399. New park for inner tubes. Lift rates weekdays, $16, weekends and holidays, $24.

* Blue Mountain, Palmerton, Pa., (610) 826-7700, ski report (800) 235-2226. Night skiing. Lift rates midweek, $29; weekends and holidays, $38.

* Camelback, Tannersville, Pa., (717) 629-1661, ski report (800) 233-8100. Snowboarding and half-pipe. Night skiing. Lift rates weekdays, $33 (Mondays $25), weekends and holidays, $39.

* Crystal Lake, Tivoli, Pa. (near Hughesville), (717) 584-2698. Lift rates $15 weekends only. Snow tubing new this season. Twenty-five miles of cross-country trails, rentals, lessons, lodging

* Doe Mountain, Macungie, Pa. (near Allentown), (610) 682-7108, ski report (800) 282-7107. Snowboarding and half-pipe. Night skiing. Lift rates weekdays, $25, Wednesdays, $20 (nonholiday), weekends and holidays, $33.

* Elk Mountain, Union Dale, Pa., (717) 679-2611, ski report (800) 233-4131. Night skiing. Lift rates weekdays, $30, weekends and holidays, $37.

* Fernwood, Bushkill, Pa., (717) 588-9500. Cross-country skiing, six restaurants. Lift rates weekdays, $10, weekends and holidays, $19.

* Jack Frost, Blakeslee, Pa., (717) 443-8425. Cross-country trails. Snowboarding and half-pipe. Snow tubing. Lift rates weekdays, $30, weekends and holidays, $38.

* Montage, Scranton, (717) 969-7669, ski report (800) 468-7669. Half-pipe run for snowboarding. Lift rates weekdays, $26, weekends and holidays, $33.

* Mount Airy Lodge, Mount Pocono, Pa., (800) 441-4410. Cross-country trails with snowmaking. Indoor tennis and ice skating, snowmobiles, indoor heated pools and health club. Lift rates weekdays, free for guests and $18 nonguests; Fridays, weekends and holidays, free for guests and $20 nonguests.

* Mount Tone, Lake Como, Pa., (717) 798-2707. Cross-country ski trails, night skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing. Lift rates weekends and holidays, $18.

* Pocono Manor, Pocono Manor, Pa., (800) 233-8150. Cross- country trails, cross-country rental shop, outdoor ice skating, snowmobiling, indoor swimming pool. Cross-country trail fee with rental $15. Ski-and-stay package including breakfast and lift passes to Camelback, Jack Frost or Big Boulder: $71 per person double occupancy weekdays; $84 per person double occupancy weekends.

* Shawnee Mountain, Shawnee on Delaware, Pa., (717) 421-7231, ski report (800) 233-4218. Snowboarding half-pipe and terrain park. Lift rates weekdays, $30, weekends and holidays, $38, Mondays $25 (nonholiday).

* Split Rock, Lake Harmony, Pa., (717) 722-9111 or (800) 255-7625. Snowboarding, cross- country trails, sledding, ice skating. Lift rates weekdays, $18, weekends and holidays, $22.

* Spring Mountain, Spring Mount, Pa., (610) 287-7300, snow report (610) 287-7900.. Snowboarding. Night skiing. Lift rates weekday $16, weekend and holiday $20.

* Tanglwood Tafton, Pa. (near Lake Wallenpaupack), (717) 226-9500. Snowboard park, night skiing. Lift rates weekdays, $18, weekends and holidays, $29.

* Vernon Valley-Great Gorge, Vernon, N.J., (201) 827-2000. Snowboarding park. Lift rates weekdays and weekends, $38.

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