Following three years of joint planning with Wake County’s Parks department, the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course at Blue Jay Point County Park held its grand opening on March 28.
The Go Ape course was first proposed in 2012 when the company partnered with Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space to get the project off the ground.
Wake County provided the land while Go Ape agreed to build, maintain and operate the course. Both share in the generated revenue, said Chris Snow, director of Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space.
“When Go Ape first contacted us, we evaluated all of our parks to see where would be the best fit from a landscape and programmatic standpoint,” Snow said.
“Blue Jay Point County Park was ultimately selected due to the nature of the Go Ape course, the audience Go Ape targets, and the already existing programs we are doing in the park.”
The Triangle location is Go Ape’s 10th in the nation and the first in North Carolina since Go Ape’s first course opened in 2010. Locations in Ohio and Connecticut are expected to open soon.
The Raleigh Go Ape course provides a unique set of recreational challenges and allows participants to view the park from an exclusive vantage point.
It comprises five sections that include, among other obstacles, 42 crossings, an Apple Picker’s Ladder, two Tarzan swings and five zip lines. Most of the action takes place up in the trees, and the highest point on the course is 41 feet. The course reaches 2,590 feet in length.
The park’s first platforms and zip lines were installed on February 2nd.
“The Go Ape course provides a shared experience for families and friends whether they have climbed Everest or this is their first time climbing a rope ladder,” said Mitchell Hutt, local Go Ape marketing and events manager. “Go Ape is built for everyone and we are proud of our ability to encourage millions to live life adventurously with us.”
Go Ape adventure courses cater to all skill levels and children ages 10 and up. Participants must attend a safety briefing before taking on the two to three hour course. Its operators hope to attract school, youth and corporate groups as part of its core customer base.
This may be due to the fact that Go Ape is not an inexpensive activity — after taxes, prices run $38.76 for ages 10-15 and $59.71 for anyone over 15.
A Rising Trend
Outdoor adventure recreation is growing as an industry, one that can trace its roots back to the Boy Scouts. In addition to physical and emotional benefits of the Scouts, other organizations, such as Kurt Hahn’s Outward Bound program, have helped to inspire the notion of physically challenging outdoor adventure courses and recreation facilities.
“People are drawn to adventure recreation because it fulfills the need for excitement and stimulation in a way that mundane life cannot,” explains Susanne Morais, a veteran outdoor educator and a professor at North Carolina State University.
“A video game may invoke feelings of excitement or even a bit of adrenaline, but getting out there and pushing oneself is a whole different experience. People have to work together in adventure recreation,” Morais said.
“I’ve seen groups flourish through working through challenges that the outdoors present.”
Those interested in other forms of outdoor adventure recreation should know that the proposed whitewater park below Falls Dam in North Raleigh may still be on the horizon. The feasibility study for this project was completed in 2011, and the City Council adopted the conceptual plan for the project the same year.
According to Elizabeth Gardner, President of the Falls Whitewater Park Committee, the proposed park will take at least several more years to see through.
It would also cater to all skill levels, incorporate several rapids and allow increased access to the water for other activities such as tubing, fishing and wading. The proposed whitewater park could prove a valuable addition to Raleigh’s expanding outdoor adventure recreation outlets.
“I believe this facility and the other amenities in this area would be a significant draw for the community and for visitors to the region in search of outdoor recreation opportunities and unique adventure activities,” said Todd Milam, a city greenway planner.
“The pieces are in place for this to become a regional outdoor and adventure recreation hub; the whitewater park facility would be just one more complimentary element for residents and visitors to the City of Raleigh to get out and enjoy.”