IDAHO FALLS — A massive mound of dirt near Ryder Park on Sunnyside Road in Idaho Falls will soon be transformed into a winter wonderland.
Gateway to Kelly Canyon was given the green light to move forward by the Idaho Falls City Council Thursday night. The site will become a “premier” tubing hill as a partnership between Kelly Canyon and the city.
“We are so excited for this state-of-the-art tubing hill. This is not your average hill – it’s the Disneyland of tube parks,” says Mike VanSteenkiste, owner of Gateway to Kelly Canyon. “We’re bringing the mountain to the people. Kelly Canyon has been a lot of fun and now we are doing tubing for the people.”
VanSteenkiste opened Gateway Parks Eagle, a similar tubing structure, at Eagle Island State Park in western Idaho ten years ago and it’s been a big success. Owners plan to duplicate the model in Idaho Falls with visitors paying admission while booking 90 minute sessions online.
Two magic carpets will be constructed to carry riders to the top of the hill, concessions with hot chocolate will be for sale and free skiing and snowboarding will be offered on one side of the mound.
“One of our big goals is getting kids off screens. The winters are really tough here in Idaho Falls with the cold and not a lot of things to do so this will be a very fun vibe,” VanSteenkiste tells EastIdahoNews.com.
VanSteenkiste has been working for the city for over a year to make the project happen. Fresh sod will be installed in the coming weeks and snow-making machines will make sure the hill is always covered with plenty of white stuff during the winter.
“We are thrilled to have this high-quality recreational opportunity coming to Idaho Falls. Outdoor winter recreation is something Idahoans are forced to appreciate, or we have to lock ourselves inside for three quarters of the year,” says PJ Holm, Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Director. “As a park and recreation professional, I embrace and encourage private/public partnerships, like the one we have with Gateway to Kelly Canyon. They are helping to bring an exciting new experience to the residents and guests of our city.”
Gateway to Kelly Canyon already has an active following on social media. One video showing tubers at the Eagle location has been viewed over 10 million times and was featured on ESPN’s TikTok account.@espn This looks too fun ? (via @Kelly Canyon Resort, @gatewayparksidahofalls) #snow #winter #snowtubing #tubing ♬ original sound – ESPN
The tube park is set to open in Idaho Falls around Thanksgiving and VanSteenkiste invites everyone to try it out.
“This is for the kids and for the community. I think we need something nowadays to give kids an experience to recreate. Stay tuned – this will be a lot of fun,” VanSteenkiste says.