By Alicia Dziak
Climb to the treetops! Glide through the woods! Sail down the mountain! You can do it all at Holiday Valley’s Sky High, where adventure awaits kids of all ages.
Choose from the Aerial Park, the Climbing Forest and the Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster—or better yet, do all three for a day you won’t soon forget.
Last summer was my first visit to the Aerial Park, and I must say, it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. While I don’t classify myself as “scared of heights,” I certainly teeter on it when I’m high off the ground, navigating wooden steps that are swinging from the trees. Not only was I nervous for myself, but add in the fact that I was with my kids and I was a bit of a wreck.
However, after successfully completing a couple of the obstacles, including the first zipline, my nervousness quickly changed to excitement and a need to do more, more, more!
If you’ve never been through a ropes course before (which I hadn’t), you’re not really sure what to expect. First, you get fitted for a harness. (Be sure to wear comfy clothes, preferably longer shorts or capris so they don’t ride up when you’re in the harness.) The friendly HV staff goes through the basics, most importantly how to use the locking lanyard system, which is how you move from one obstacle to the next and also is what keeps you from falling to the ground.
The safety chat seems to make sense when you’re listening, but doing it is a totally different thing. So head up the hill by Tannenbaum and check out the practice area, where staff will help you put your learning into hands-on use on low-to-the-ground obstacles.
Once you’ve mastered that, it’s time to head to the course start.
Courses are marked with colors that correspond to various levels of difficulty, much like ski slopes. Courses range from yellow (easiest and closest to the ground) to black diamond (most difficult and high off the ground). Certain restrictions apply to the more difficult courses, but besides that, there is no limit to what courses you can do within your time slot.
Thirteen courses challenge guests to move from one platform to the next by navigating obstacles or ziplines. Some resemble a swinging rope bridge; others are more of a snowboard in the air that you hang on as you whiz over to the next platform. All are fun, nerve-racking and designed to give you a huge adrenaline rush.
There is also a course consisting of just ziplines that ends right by Tannenbaum, a favorite of most of my friends and definitely a favorite among the kids in my life.
“My favorite part of the Aerial Park is the zipline course because it’s so fun and you feel like you’re flying,” said my daughter, Lily, age 10. “I was scared at first, but once I got used to how it worked, I loved it!”
“The zipline course is my favorite because you’re moving super fast from one platform to the next,” my daughter, Ava, age 12, added.
My nephew Alex, age 9, said, “The ziplines are the best because you go so fast on them.”
While my nephew Eli, age 7, agreed that the ziplines are the best, he also said, “I like doing all the obstacles.”
Minimum age for the Aerial Park is seven.
Rates start at $49 per person for three hours, with group discounts available for groups of 20 or more.
In addition, a late afternoon session (3:30 to 6 p.m.) is $39 per person, and birthday party packages are also available. Reservations are required on weekends and strongly encouraged on weekdays.
The Climbing Forest is a 3-D version of a climbing wall, so unlike a traditional climbing wall, visitors can climb all around each tree as they head up to the treetops. There are numerous trees outfitted with color-coded climbing holds, with varying levels of difficulty. Like the Aerial Park, guests are outfitted with a harness that is clipped to an auto belay system. Once the top is reached, or you want to come back down, just let go, and you are automatically lowered back to the ground.
“Letting go when you’re done is just as fun as climbing up,” Ava stated.
“I like the Climbing Forest because you can see a lot of stuff from up there!” Lily said.
“It’s fun because you can ring a bell when you’re done,” noted Alex.
Rates for the Climbing Forest start at $17 for one hour, with group rates and birthday party packages available. Minimum age is five years old and 30 pounds.
Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster
The Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster is a roller coaster that spirals down the mountain through the woods. Everyone gets their own “car” and riders control its speed.
“I love how fast you go on the coaster!” said Ava.
“It’s fun to race down the hill really fast in the coaster,” added Alex.
“I like going really fast through the woods,” Eli said.
Children must be at least three years old and 38 inches tall to ride with an adult (16+), or eight years old and 54 inches tall to ride alone. Rates start at $8 for one ride.
The Aerial Park and Climbing Forest are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Mountain Coaster is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If it’s adventure you’re after this summer, look no further than Sky High. Whether you’re a kid or not, you’ll feel like one during your visit and when talking about it afterwards! Make it a must-stop on your summer to-do list!
For more information, visit www.holidayvalley.com.