Mazeppa event center lets locals hit the snow tubing slopes
In February, Steeplechase Event Center will offer skiing and snowboarding for the first time. In the meantime, people of all ages are taking part in snow tubing on the weekends.
MAZEPPA — As the sun set on a Friday evening, dozens of adults, tweens and tots started to file up the stairs at Steeplechase Event Center's snow tubing slope, their tubes in tow. Pop music blasted from the speakers as people hopped in their tubes and slid down the white, smooth hill, all lit up in colorful lights.
"I loved it," said Mae Traver, 7, of Rochester, who had just went down the slope for the first time ever.
"It was so fun," added her sister, Cora Traver, 4.
And the opportunities for fun are about to expand at Steeplechase — in February, the event center will open its skiing and snowboarding slopes.
"We're going to use two of the ski lifts, two chair lifts and 10 runs," said owner Justin Steck. "If things go good and progress, the hope is maybe even in another few weeks to go to three lifts and ... 15 runs."
Now in its second season of offering snow tubing, Steeplechase — located at 59468 423rd Ave. southeast of Mazzepa — is able to offer skiing and snowboarding in part because of this winter's generous snowfall. Steck said his staff has spent less time making snow this season compared to last.
"We've already been skiing and snowboarding ourselves for the past few weeks," he said. "The new snow helped the conditions tremendously. We will still be making some more snow next week, just to make sure we have the hills covered sufficiently."
For Steck, the next step is to potentially offer equipment rentals next winter.
"We're just going to take it step by step," he said.
In the meantime, weekend snow tubing draws visitors from Rochester, Red Wing, Austin and the Twin Cities. Chris Youngberg and his friends traveled from the Farmington area to hit the slopes Friday. It was their first time visiting Steeplechase.
"It's less rules than skiing or snowboarding," Youngberg said. "More camaraderie, I'd say, because you get to do it with a group of people. We get to link a whole bunch of people together and go down the hill in a big mob."
For Joel Traver, who visited Steeplechase for the first time with his daughters, Cora and Mae, and his wife, Katie, snow tubing is one new way for his family to make the most of Minnesota's winters.
"You've just got to do fun things, and we've never been here before but heard about it — lots of recommendations," Traver said. "It's fun with the lights and lots of other people."
Tickets for tubing, snowboarding and skiing are available online .