Unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, Holiday Valley’s Sky High Adventure Park transcends the concept of an adult playground. Nestled in the trees at the Tannenbaum Lodge, Sky High is a combination of an aerial ropes course, mountain coaster and tree climbing. Reminiscent of the Ewok Village from Star Wars, Adventure Park gets you outside, active and fuels fun for the entire family.
Entering its 5th year, the Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster and Aerial Park have catapulted Holiday Valley’s summer business, bringing in thousands of climbers and riders. The addition of the 3-D Climbing Forest (more on this later) only further enhances the guest experience. Committing yourself to a session at Adventure Park will require you to step outside of your comfort zone … and that’s perfectly ok.
A couple months ago, Sky High Adventure Park leaders Brian Halloran and Sam Huffman took off to the ACCT (Association for Challenge Course Technology) Conference in California to learn about some new and exciting things the climbing industry is doing.
“It was pretty wild to see how many different variations of these parks there can be,” Huffman said. “There were people from all over the world there, each one bringing a different perspective to how these parks can be run.”
If you’ve never been to Sky High before, let’s give you a quick crash course: After getting fitted with a harness, you’re taken to a briefing area where you learn the details of what you’ll be doing - how to clip onto the tree, how to use your zipline trolley, etc. Then, head up the hill a ways to the practice area, where you’ll get some hands-on experience with the equipment.
“We added the training feature a couple of summers ago to allow our climbers to get acclimated a little more quickly,” Huffman said. “It’s really streamlined the entire thing. Climbers are now much more familiar / comfortable using the equipment.”
Continue to walk up the trail and you’ll finally understand what all the hype is about. (Writer’s Note: The initial feeling of walking into the park is unmatched. A really cool experience.) You begin to see the platforms. Your senses are assaulted with laughter, high fives, encouragement and the distinct buzzing of the ziplines.
Halloran and Huffman went west to do some recon on future things that can be added to the park, course maintenance and newer technologies. For the time being, the park will be kept the same - the first summer nothing has been added on.
As it sits, Sky High gives you 13 courses to choose from, all of varying difficulty. The beginner course platforms sit lower to the ground, while one of the advanced courses sees you zip across Punch Bowl. The double black diamond course, fittingly called ‘Commando’ is at the top-most part of the canopy.
The Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster, which follows the Spruce Lift up and spins and circles on the way back down, was introduced the same year the aerial park was. Loading into the sled, you’re given safety instructions until you hear the distinct click-click-click of a roller coaster. You control the brakes, so you can floor it or take it easy on the way down.
The 3-D Climbing Forest, which debuted a few short summers ago, takes a rock climbing wall concept and applies it to the trees. Handles are strapped around the tree, while the climber is attached to a self-belay. When you climb to the top and ring the bell, you push off from the tree, gently floating back down to the ground.
Don’t let yourself sit around all summer. Get outside, conquer some fears and get active. For more information on Holiday Valley’s Sky High Adventure Park, head to www.holidayvalley.com or facebook.com/SkyHighAdventurePark.