By Jesse Wood
Dec. 12, 2013. The snow tubing conditions at Hawksnest were perfect on opening day, the day following Thanksgiving: fresh snow layered with man-made snow; chilly temperatures; and sunshine aplenty.
“It was a really nice weekend. A lot of people were here,” Hawksnest co-owner Lenny Cottom said. “It’s probably one of the better Thanksgivings we’ve had.”
Formerly known as Hawksnest Ski Resort, Cottom and company eliminated skiing before the 2008-09 winter season after attempts to expand its ski resort were denied by the Seven Devils Board of Adjustment, a decision upheld in superior court. For that winter season five years ago, Hawksnest focused solely on tubing and became the largest snow tubing park on the East Coast, boasting both “increased attendance and popularity” that winter.
The following summer, Hawksnest opened its ziplining attraction and soon Hawksnest had the largest zipline course on the East Course.
The 20-lane snow tubing park features two conveyor lifts and four areas to tube. The lanes are between 400 to 1,000 feet long. Just recently, Hawksnest invested $200,000 to “make your snow tubing experience one to remember,” according to the company’s website. That investment included adding more lighting, new snowmaking equipment and a new lane groomer machine.
Add that to the zipline course, which is also open when snow is on the ground, that features 20 cables, four of which are super or mega zips. Two of them are more than 2,000 feet long and the other two are more than 1,500 feet long. In all, the zipline course has four miles of riding, reaching more than 200 feet in height and speeds of up to 50 mph.
The clientele is mostly families with older kids generally on the zipline and younger kids enjoying the tubing. But all ages and sizes enjoy both attractions, Cottom said.
Eliminating skiing for only tubing, though, still makes for a weather-dependent activity or as Cottom said, “The weather completely dictates traffic.”
Gone are the days of a fluid winter, Cottom said, adding that he expects the winter to have a similar fluctuation as last year: cold, rain, cold, rain, cold, etc.
“The days of having a good, cold winter all the time are a thing of the past,” Cottom said. “We haven’t had one of those in a while.”
With uncertainty in the weather, the different attractions that make Hawksnest atop Seven Devils a year-round, recreation destination is a needed bonus.
“It’s worked out well,” Cottom said.
Hawksnest’s snow tubing park opens on Friday, Dec. 13, at 10 a.m. This comes after closing briefly due to warm temperatures. On Friday and Saturday, Hawksnest will have tubing sessions at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. For pricing, click here. Sessions are 1 hour and 45 minutes long and children must be over 3 years old to snow tube.
Hawksnest’s zipline course operates year-round, even during snowy and rainy weather. Click here for details about the zipline course.
Hawksnest is located just off N.C. 105 in between Boone and Banner Elk, located atop Seven Devils. For more information, click the links above, email [email protected] or call 800-822-4295 or 828-963-6561.