I knew I had the coolest job in the world when my boss asked me to test out the new Skylark Ridge rope and zipline course at Binder Park Zoo.
The first time you lay eyes on the structure, you will feel awestruck too! The course is unlike any normal ropes and zipline course: it is a large, intricate structure with colors of brown, green and orange to resemble the colors of climbing in nature.
When we first arrived at the zoo we were introduced to Jayden Wert, one of two Ropes Course Operators for the course. She truly has a passion for adventure that shows through her smile and finesse as she climbs around on Skylark Ridge.
For myself, a 22-year-old mild seeker of thrills, I was looking to push myself a little bit but was still apprehensive. I could not have asked for a better zipline structure to experiment with. I was told that the course would surprise me, make me feel powerful, and allow me to push myself — and it delivered.
Jayden explained this course goes through rigorous inspection for two hours each morning before opening, so each patron who decides to be a part of the Skylark adventure can do it worry-free.
Unlike on the backyard zipline my dad and his friends built for me as a kid, I felt secure in my harness 100% of the time up on the course.
The other staff got us amped up and ready to go in our gear, gave us the lowdown of the rules and then told us to bravely “choose our own adventure.”
We joined Jayden up in the sky, where she guided us through the course and laid out interesting paths to take, answered our questions, and provided words of encouragement.
The course is unlike any I have ever seen. Stunning. Intricate. Huge. There are limitless paths you can take that include ropes, ziplines and bridges, equipped for any type of thrill-seeker. My co-worker Stacy and I each found our way around the course exploring the different challenges it presents at each corner.
At one point I heard Stacy yell “I feel like I’m on American Ninja Warrior!”
The setup of the course allows each person to move freely throughout and choose which paths they are comfortable with. There are ziplines that launch from the very top level and the second level of the course, so traveling from one level to another is exhilarating. Meanwhile, I got a splendid view of the whole structure.
Skylark Ridge will inspire you to conquer your fears. Adventuring on the course made me feel like my own version of Spider-man, or Spider-woman—my co-worker said I looked like one, too. I found myself wishing I could spend all day on the course. Luckily, there is no time limit on your Skylark Ridge experience, so you can climb and explore the structure all day if you would like.
You may be reading this thinking a ropes course and zipline adventure is not for you, but rest assured, Skylark Ridge is very accommodating. I asked Jayden what kind of zoo patrons they have seen enjoying the course so far. According to her, the age ranges are remarkably diverse, and each person has had an amazing time.
“This morning I had my eldest couple that were in their 70s try out the course and loved it, and we have toddlers who can’t get enough of the Little Larks course as well,” she said.
The Little Larks section of Skylark Ridge is aimed at youngsters looking to get a taste of the action. The super cool part about Little Larks is that it is not age-based but height and ability based. If your little tyke can walk on their own, they can be a Little Lark.
Skylark Ridge is a wonderful addition to the Binder Park Zoo experience. The zoo’s mission is to “Connect, Inspire, Conserve.” The course offers additional opportunities to connect with nature, new people, and new activities within the zoo.
Even the Little Larks can get a taste of what the climbing and ziplining life is like and lead them to a life of outdoor adventure!
Do not forget to mark your calendars for May 1, when the zoo begins its 2023 season.