Tubing in the Canadian Rockies

Tubing at Mount Norquay,, Banff Alberta

This wild downhill ride requires no lessons nor special gear aside from bouncy inflated tubes, which are supplied. Paul Zizka, courtesy Mount Norquay

Hurtle downhill at Mount Norquay sans skis

Not every visitor to Canada’s Rocky Mountain ski resorts is confident enough to strap on a pair of skis and hit the big slopes. But it’s entirely possible for non-skiers to sail down snowy slopes safely and at full speed, all without having to take a single skiing or snowboarding lesson. Tubing is a popular draw at many Canadian mountain ski resorts, and it’s as simple as it is fun: just seat yourself in the centre of one of these inflated inner-tube-shaped doughnuts and hurtle down a snow-covered hill.

The squeals of children and adults bounding down the lanes of Mount Norquay in Banff National Park ring out from the facility’s tube park, which consists of a row of walled-in lanes adjacent to the mountain’s ski hill. On this cold-weather slip ‘n’ slide, tubers ascend the hill on the “magic carpet,” a moving walkway, which deposits them at the top of the lanes. Here, they’re helped onto tubes by Norquay staffers. Riders can go solo or make a group descent holding their neighbours’ tube handles.

The trip down may involve delightfully disorienting spins, but it’s remarkably safe and doesn’t require any special skills. It’s an ideal gateway activity for newcomers to downhill snow sports. No lessons are required.

Tubing Mount Norquay Banff

For the novice, tubing is a great introduction to downhill snow sports but is also enjoyed by experienced skiers and snowboarders. Photo: Paul Zizka, courtesy Mount Norquay


“Because of tubing’s accessibility, how easy it is, and the very organic nature of the activity, people love to come out and have a go,” says David Jones, Mount Norquay marketing communications director. “It appeals to families, and also to new Canadians who may be adjusting to Canadian life in the mountains. That said, we do also get a lot of experienced skiers and snowboarders who come to Norquay and they see the tube park and end up trying it and loving it.”

Tubing is also significantly less pricey than a day of skiing or snowboarding. Mount Norquay charges $30 admission per adult for a full day of tubing on weekends and holidays, with lower rates for kids, teens and seniors, as well as a reduced rate on weekdays and evenings.

Getting there:

From Calgary: Mount Norquay is approximately 112 kilometres from Calgary city limits. Drive west on the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1). Take a right at the second Banff exit onto Mount Norquay Road. Continue on up a short series of switchbacks to the resort.

From Banff: Travel six kilometres from downtown Banff on the Mount Norquay access road on the north side of Highway 1. Continue on up a short series of switchbacks to the resort. A ski shuttle bus operates to and from the resort between late December through late April. It stops at many major hotels within the town of Banff.

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