All-weather snow sports hill coming to Des Moines in 2023

Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

If you can’t get enough snowy activities, you’ll want to plan a visit to Sleepy Hollow Sports Park in 2023. Polk County Conservation announced Thursday morning that it will be installing an “all-season turf surface” on the tubing hill at Sleepy Hollow that will allow for winter sports such as tubing, snowboarding, and skiing to happen year-round. Installation will begin in 2023.

And not only will the addition be a big deal for Des Moines, it’ll be a big deal for the country. Once it’s installed, Sleepy Hollow’s year-round snow sports hill will be the largest of its kind in the nation.

So how does a year-round snow park work? Polk County Conservation says it will be using Snowflex, a synthetic system that replicates the feeling of snow but is softer to fall on, requires less maintenance than real snow, and can be installed anywhere.

“We sat down and looked at what was required to do the job,” says inventor of Snowflex Brian Thomas in a promotional video. “It must be slick so that you can gather speed. We spray water on the surface in order to make it slick. It must be grippy, which means that you can change direction by edging the ski or snowboard. It had to be a homogenous surface so you couldn’t catch your finger in. It had to have no metal, again, because of the injury problem. I wanted it to be a softer fall-on surface. We put in a two-inch shock pad underneath.”

According to the Polk County Conservation Board, tubing, skiing and snowboarding during the warmer months will occur during designated times in 2023. After snow falls in 2023, only tubing will be allowed. Full snow-based skiing and snowboarding can be expected for the 2024/2025 season.

Sleepy Hollow Sports Park stayed closed for the majority of the 2022/2023 season to focus on repairs and updates, but Polk County Conservation hopes that the addition of the snow sports hill will encourage residents to visit Sleepy Hollow Sports Park year-round.

The snow sports hill is just one of several additions proposed in the past year that aim to drive tourism in Central Iowa. Also proposed this year is a waterpark and entertainment district expected to open in 2025.

With skiing in July and swimming in December, Central Iowans are about to have a lot more recreation options in the coming years.