SEVEN DEVILS – If you want to play in the snow in western North Carolina but skiing and snowboarding is not your thing, then a visit to Hawknest Snow Tube Park in Seven Devils is a must-do.
Hawknest is located between Boone and Banner Elk just off N.C. 105, and it is the largest snow tubing park on the East Coast. The park offers four different snow tubing runs, ranging in length from 400 to 1,000 feet. There are 30 lanes, and there are three moving carpets to take riders back to the top.
The park makes its own snow and the venue is lighted for evening sessions. Each session is 1 hour, 45 minutes long. It costs $30 Monday through Thursday and $38 on the weekend and holidays. There is a $5 parking fee on the weekend.
There are usually four sessions Monday through Thursday at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. There is an added 6 p.m. session on Friday and Saturday while Sunday sessions are 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.
Most sessions usually sell out, so it is best to reserve a spot online at www.hawksnest tubing.com. It is always best to check the website in case weather conditions, including snow and rain and warm temperatures, forces the park to close. Tickets are refundable is the park is forced to close.
My wife and I took the plunge on Jan. 26 and it was a blast. I recommend getting there a bit early and get to the front of the line as we did. We did the first three runs in about 10 minutes and then took the moving carpet back up to the second run and did the second and third runs a few more times as many people were still waiting for their first ride. Others stick to the shorter runs.
But the lines quickly thin out and there was very little wait time to experience the fun. It seemed some people called it quits after an hour or so and that lessened the wait time even more.
Dress warmly, and in layers, as you are in the mountains. Seven Devils sits at an elevation of almost 4,000 feet. We did the 2 p.m. session and the temperature was 27 with a wind chill of 17. But the wind did subside near the end of the session. You can go inside and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate. I recommend wearing sun glasses.
A rider can sit in the tub or lie on top of the tube for more speed. The lanes are groomed after each session and there are snow berms between the lanes for safety. It’s very kid friendly.
There is still plenty of winter left to take the plunge.