Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Different Tourist Adventure

Living a tourist destination has certain perks -- there are industries that have no business in non-tourist-y areas that we also get to see and use. Living in the Hills has certain other perks in the form of trails and trees. One definite perk is a result of both of those things.

Seriously, why is this the only
picture I took that day?!

Rushmore Tramway Adventures (originally the Rushmore Aerial Tramway) has been a staple in Keystone for fifty years, starting as a lift to a mountaintop park with a fantastic view of town and the surroundings. As long as I've known of them, they've also had the alpine slide (an excellently fun way to get back down from said park), and in recent years they've added a zipline, freefall, and the adventure park.

The adventure park is several high ropes courses among the trees made up of high wires, bridges, walkways, ladders, ziplines and platforms. A ticket gets you an hour and a half of self-guided fun with eight different courses at four different difficulty levels -- yellow (fully supervised and great for the small and/or shaky), green (fairly easy for most adults but arguably the most fun), blue (harder, takes longer, and generally not a great fit for kids), and black (genuinely difficult and most likely to leave you physically sapped).

The safety system made me geek out a bit. Each participant gets a harness and fifteen minutes of instruction. It's straightforward; there are limits of three people on a platform and one on an element at a time, and once you're locked into a course you can't fully unlock out of it until your feet are once again firmly on the ground. I didn't run into a single participant that ignored the basic rules, likely because no one wants to be responsible for an incident, and the lock-in/lock-out system was a breeze by about the fourth element of the first course.

Also, it enables prolific use of the word "tweezle." Tweezle, tweezle, tweezle.

The self-guided part of the park means that the time for each course is entirely dependent on your own ability ... and the abilities of those in front of you. Samwise and I got held up behind a family of six for a bit because the kids were perhaps not quite ready for the height of one element; I know I held up a couple of other guys toward the end of a run because my arms were flat-out exhausted. All the same, I managed to cover two and a half courses in our time while the girls hit four or five. (Next time, all of the green ones first!)

This is one of those things that I absolutely recommend trying. It was worth the money and the time and even the achy arms the next day, and it's something that may be a better fit than most stops if you need to entertain teenagers. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for kids under about twelve, largely because things get much more difficult the shorter you are. (At 5'4", I struggled with a few elements because I could only stretch so far.)

Plus, well, heights. Lots of heights.

Go. Go give it a try. Heck, if you're timing is good, I'll meet you there.

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