Recreation supervisor talks summer season to winter transition at Sioux Metropolis’s Cone Park

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The transition from summer to winter tubing at Cone Park has been underway in earnest since employees at Sioux City Parks and Recreation turned on the snow cannons on the first day of December.

John Byrnes, the city’s recreation officer, said the all-season park has already made 40 to 50 percent of the snow for the 700-foot main hill, which officially opens for the season on Dec. 21. He said the demand for snow tubing is higher than ever. During the park’s fifth winter season, 19,897 tickets were sold.

Due to limited capacity and high demand, guests are asked to purchase their tickets in advance to minimize lines at the ticket booths at the park, 3800 Line Drive.

“I always thought we were going to have this honeymoon and this plateau, but it really didn’t go that way,” Byrnes said. “We fill up incredibly quickly for any of our nightly fundraising events or weeknight private rentals, so demand here is at an all-time high.”

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In addition to the main tubing hill, Cone Park, which received the Outstanding Attraction award from the Iowa Tourism Bureau and the Travel Federation of Iowa in 2019, features Blue Bunny Hill, a shorter hill designed for people of all ages. Visitors can also skate on the 5,400-square-foot chilled ice rink and warm up at the park’s fire pit and day lodge with a cup of hot chocolate and some snacks.

summer extension Byrnes said no new features will be implemented this winter season as the Parks and Recreation Department focuses on expanding summer options at the park.

On June 18, two lanes of a synthetic track on the main hill were opened to the public. The surface, which looks like snow, was installed on the hill at the beginning of the summer season and removed before snowmaking began.

“It’s obviously a lengthy process to take that up and make sure it’s put away appropriately,” Byrnes said of the track. “We’re looking for a way to actually permanently install our summer hose operation so it doesn’t have to be installed and taken down every year.”

Byrnes said two lanes appears to be sufficient at this point. As demand increases as new summer facilities are added, the city will consider increasing the number of lanes.

“Right now, two seems like the perfect amount. You can run your friends downstairs. You can ride on trains. You can have some fun with it. We’re happy with that at the moment,” he said. “

Construction of a mountain bike trail system is scheduled to begin at Cone Park in 2023. The $2 million bike path project will include jumps and berms, as well as a pump track. Walkers, hikers and runners can use the single-use trails.

“We will start adding as many amenities as possible to create this environment where it’s a one-stop shop for outdoor recreation in the summer,” Byrnes said.

Natalie Berschoor and Rosario Chaclan share some tips and tricks for navigating Cone Park.

Jesse brothers

Cone Park staff Tyler Schlotman, Seth Hodgins and Tyler Wagner share how to get the most out of Cone Park’s summer release.

Jesse brothers