Mar 25, 2024 - News

Polk County to open world's largest all-weather tubing hill in May

A photo of Sleepy Hollow's Snowflex hill.

Installation of the Snowflex on Sleepy Hollow's 50,000-square-foot hill began more than a year ago. Photo: Courtesy of Polk County Conservation

The world's largest all-weather tubing hill will open near the Iowa State Fairgrounds May 25, Polk County Conservation director Rich Leopold tells Axios.

Why it matters: Snowflex, a synthetic snow substitute, is transforming Sleepy Hollow Sports Park's notorious 50,000-square-foot hill into a nearly year-round destination.

  • The site's skiing, tubing and snowboarding will likely attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, Leopold says.

Catch up fast: Sleepy Hollow is a 76-acre complex that was privately owned and operated for decades as a golf and winter sports destination.

  • Polk County purchased the park in 2021 for $3.5 million.
  • The first $3 million phase of an improvement plan is almost complete.

How it works: The hill is now covered in Snowflex, a slick, springy material designed for speed and safety.

  • Hundreds of nozzles will shoot water over the hill's 600-foot-long slope during warmer weather.
  • There's also an uphill lift and a new sound system for music.

The intrigue: Snow, rather than water, is used on the surface in colder months.

Yes, but: The site doesn't currently have a proper snowmaking system.

  • This year, the Snowflex-covered slope will close after Labor Day, Jeff Condon, leisure services manager for the conservation department, tells Axios.

State of play: Only tubing will be allowed on the Snowflex hill during the first few months this year to give staff time to resolve any potential operational challenges.

  • Skiing and snowboarding via the Snowflex system will begin in June or July, separate from the tubing dates.

Fun fact: Sleepy Hollow will use about 61,000 gallons of water a week from Fourmile Creek and a park pond that's been expanded.

  • A filtration and purification system will recycle most of it.

Details: Admission is $14 for two hours, which includes lift and tube rentals. Summer season passes are $125 and go on sale next month.

  • Online registration is encouraged.

What's next: The park's second development phase includes a new lodge and snowmaking equipment to expand skiing options.

  • Construction isn't likely to start until at least 2026.
  • A feasibility study is ongoing but that phase could cost as much as $15 million, Leopold says.
A photo of pipes.
An estimated 70% of water used in Sleepy Hollow's Snowflex hill will be recycled via pipes and filtration systems. Photo: Courtesy of Polk County Conservation
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