For the frugal family or the college student without a trust fund, hitting the slopes is not always a viable option. The cost of ski and snowboard gear adds up when you’re trying to equip a family of four, and the lift tickets to Colorado’s ski resorts are a pretty penny. Not to mention all the gas used to get to and from the resort, and the massive traffic that goes along with it. But that doesn’t mean those who live on a budget can’t have fun in the snow.
Sledding has long been a winter pastime, with folks heading to the closest hill for a day filled with fun. While some local stores have sleds ranging from discs to tubes, the choices are pretty limited. The best place to find a wide variety of sleds would be at specialty online stores like Sledwarehouse.com and Snowsleds.net or mainstream online stores like Amazon.com or DicksSportingGoods.com.
One of the most popular sleds nowadays, according to Snowsled.net, is the inflatable snow bodyboard. The prices can range from $13.95 to more than $200, depending on what brand you choose. They’re the hot item this season because of the speed a rider can gain going down a hill and the control a rider has while maneuvering the sled.
Also popular are the tubes with the hard plastic bottoms. Hardly anyone uses those old semi-truck inner tubes anymore, which were always hit or miss when trying to slide down the hill and were always at risk for getting punctured. With the hard plastic bottom, the tube is guaranteed to go as fast as the classic disc sleds without the risk of being punctured by rocks. The tubes can start around $10.99, with the high-end tubes costing just under $200.
Of course, there’s always the cheap plastic and metal disc/saucer sleds and plastic toboggans, which are sold in sets of three starting at $24.95. If sledding isn’t something you can do regularly, one of these options might be the right choice because of their affordability.
For those of you who don’t want to wait to get your sled in the mail, McGuckin Hardware also carries a selection of sledding options, particularly the plastic varieties. (For the particularly daring, they also carry spray-on silicone to turn your sled into greased lightning.)
Once you have your gear, where do you go? The most popular hill in Boulder is at Scott Carpenter Park at 1505 30th St. The hill isn’t super-steep, so it’s not much of a task to spend the day going up and down, and it’s suitable for the little ones. However, the park can get crowded with sledders. Another option would be the hill at Tantra Park at 46th and Hanover streets in south Boulder. Tantra Park isn’t that steep either, but the hill is longer, making the ride last more than an instant. Plus, at the bottom of the hill there’s some padding that lines the fences just in case you’re going too fast to stop. It’s still recommended you wear a helmet.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can hike up to Chautauqua Meadow, which used to be a small ski area, and hit the hillside there. It’s probably the steepest hill available for sledding in the area and not recommended for children.
Happy sledding days!