Sledding may return to Meadow Mountain
MINTURN – When U.S. Forest Service officials closed Meadow Mountain to sledding last year, most residents believed it was closed for good. That may not be the case. For the past year, forest officials have been working with local residents Don and Kimberly Nock on a proposal that could bring sledding and tubing back to Meadow Mountain, but on different terms. It seems the price of getting tubing and sledding back to the popular mountain may be the price itself. “Our only option is to find someone to operate it,” said Assistant District Ranger Dave Van Norman.Despite efforts to make the popular sledding hill safe, there were several serious accidents and even a liability claim filed against the Forest Service. The Forest Service can’t afford that responsibility, so it banned sledding until a private operator came forward, Van Norman said. The Nocks have been trying to get a sledding operation started on Meadow Mountain for years. But being liable for accidents on the mountain would cost money, which in turn meant that users, accustomed to using the hill for free, would have to starting paying. There was opposition, said Kim Nock.”I can see why people were angry when they were doing it for free,” she said. But now no one can use it. With that in mind, the Nocks are hoping the public may look at the proposal a little differently this time. The Nocks’ plan calls for a 275-foot tubing lift, that will work much like a tow lift. Users will ride up the lift to the top of the hill and will be able to attach their tube to the lift so they don’t have to carry it, Nock said. It would be similar to a tubing lift used at Copper Mountain, she said. The lift will require top and bottom concrete footers. The lift will be removed at the end of each sledding season, but the footers will remain. A snow cat will groom the slopes, and there will be temporary structures at the base of Meadow Mountain: A 14- by 70-foot base cabin where sales, tube rentals, food and beverages will be sold; an 8- by 20-foot storage trailer; six 20-foot light towers for night tubing; six picnic tables; two portable toilets; and lift huts at the tubing runs. Users will have to pay to sled. The proposed cost is $16 an hour with special rates for half-day or full-day use. Tube rental would be included in the price – users will not be able to bring their own because the lift would only be able to hook on to certain types of tubes. But a free sledding area for children under 4 years old is proposed, along with snow cat tours and shuttles on Meadow Mountain. Hours of operation would be from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.The Nocks would operate under a special-use permit with the Forest Service, similar to the way Vail Mountain operates, Van Norman said. A portion of the Nocks’ gross revenues would go to the Forest Service, he added. Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or email@example.com.