SIOUX CITY -- As Cone Park kicks off its second season, Sioux City Parks and Recreation Coordinator John Byrnes said the weather couldn't be better for tubers and employees.
Bitter cold temperatures early on, he said, benefited the snow-making process. He said Cone Park's snow guns ran nearly nonstop for two weeks, improving the depth on the hill from the park's inaugural season.
"The warm temperatures now aren't going to affect us at all," Byrnes said. "Really, all it does is make the park that much more pleasant for people to come out and use when it's 40 degrees out."
More than 20,000 people visited Cone Park, 3800 Line Drive, during its first winter of operation, which stretched from mid-December to March 11, 2017. A MSN lifestyle article published in April that outlined "The best new tourist attractions in each state" listed Cone Park as the best fresh spot for tourists visiting the Hawkeye State.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Matt Salvatore said tubing sessions were sold out nearly every weekend last year and he expects that trend to continue this season.
"I think it's going to be more popular," he said of the tubing hill, which has more snow at the end out of its run out than last year and a reverse grade to help tubers slow down as they approach the bottom. "Weekends are going to be very busy. We recommend that everyone pre-reserve their spot."
Currently, the tubing hill can accommodate up to 225 users during each three-hour session and 150 users during each two-hour session. Cone Park staff are experimenting with a piece of equipment called a Tube Shaper, which could double the number of lanes on the main tubing hill. Last season, there were six lanes.
"We're hoping to get a few more lanes in so more people can use the hill at one time," Salvatore said.
New to the park is a year-round outdoor restroom near the 5,400-square-foot ice skating rink and Blue Bunny Hill, which is sponsored by Wells Enterprises, makers of Blue Bunny Ice Cream. Designed for people of all ages, Blue Bunny Hill is located next to the main tubing hill. Riders will still utilize the carpet lift, but they will exit earlier to reach the top of the smaller hill.
"There's a little platform to get off, so you get the full experience of all that Cone Park has to offer," Byrnes said.
Eight session of Snow Glow Tubing, which is sponsored by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, will be offered this season. Snow Glow Tubing features an LED light show set to music.
"Last year, we were a startup. There's kinks. You learn from them and go forward," Byrnes said. "We have an understanding of exactly how the park's going to run and we can plan accordingly. I think we're in for a really good year here."