There may be a shortage of natural snow, but the slopes are open at some area recreation sites with drifts of artificial fluffy white powder covering the ground. Twin Cities thrill seekers are flocking to area ski hills for the off-the-slope adventure of snow tubing.

In Maple Grove, you can hitch a ride 10 stories high on a moving sidewalk before careening downhill on a specially designed inner tube at Elm Creek Park Reserve. Buck Hill, the family-friendly attraction in the south metro, has live entertainment in addition to its snow tubing, ski and snowboarding areas.

With a little planning, turn tubing up a notch by zooming down the hill in the dark at Powder Ridge's laser light tubing nights in Kimball, Minn. Advanced ticket purchase is required for the special nights that include strobes, lasers and flashing lights. Riders receive glow sticks and can jam to music by a firepit.

A few things to note:

• Each tuber has to sign a waiver.

• Tubing sites provide special snow tubes, so no need to worry about loading yours into the car.

• One ride down the hill simply isn't enough, so tubing prices at each site include a two-hour session. Those who really want to go all-in can purchase extra hours for a reduced price.

Whether you want to get the kids outdoors or chill in the chalet with cocoa while others have all the excitement, here's a sampling of places to go "wheee" all the way down.

Buck Hill: 4-9 p.m. Thu.; 4-10 p.m. Fri; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat.-Sun. $15-$18. 15400 Buck Hill Rd., Burnsville.

Elm Creek: 4-9 p.m. Wed.-Fri.; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat.-Sun. $15 for two hours. 12400 James Deane Pkwy., Maple Grove.

Green Acres: 6-9 p.m. Fri.; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat.; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. $15. 8989 55th St. N., Lake Elmo.

Powder Ridge: 5-8 p.m. Fri.; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat.; noon-6 p.m. Sun., see website for laser tubing dates. $20-$22. 15015 93rd Av., Kimball, Minn.