Aerial Fun at NH Adventure Parks
Ever wanted to try a ropes course or zip through the trees? Get started with expert advice form Cranmore Mountain's Glenn Harmon
Hang out during an aerial adventure. Featuring a combination of ropes courses, sky-high bridges, rappels, quick zip lines and more, these challenges — for everyone from tepid beginners to the nimble sure-footed — offer opportunities to get out of your comfort zone and into the trees.
Athleticism and confidence are put to the test while moving from platform to platform in the treetops. Whether it be a stand-alone enterprise like Monkey Trunks or one affiliated at a ski area like Cranmore Mountain Resort or Mount Sunapee, rope courses and their ilk put clients’ safety above all else, as adrenaline and caution make the rounds.
“New Hampshire has a lot of different adventure leisure time activities, whether it’s zip lines, canopy tours or aerial adventure parks,” says Cranmore Director of Operations Glenn Harmon. “They offer various challenges and fun, all in beautiful settings, some with spectacular views and scenery. There’s something for everyone with an adventurous spirit.”
That spirit spans ages too. There are height, weight and age requirements, but children as young as age 3 can often go with their parents. Want to do it alone? It all depends on the park’s restrictions.
Be honest with yourself when choosing your course, whether based on time, ability and height above terra firma. Be comfortable. Be smart. Have fun.
The most popular aerial adventure courses are forest adventure parks that include indoor facilities and those constructed solely on poles.
It’s likely you’ve already got the gear to go on the nets, ladders and aerial walkways. In warm weather, have light pants or long shorts, comfortable long- or short-sleeved shirt, light hiking boots and perhaps a wind jacket or rain gear. Hi Tec’s Altitude Lite is a durable and waterproof hiking boot ($89.99). Don’t sweat it in the affordable Hanes short-sleeve Cool Dri collection (from $9). Cargo shorts, like from Old Navy ($24.94), make the harness a good fit.
Expert Advice From Glenn Harmon
For the past four years, Glenn Harmon has been director of operations at Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, where people play in the trees in summer and fall. The Aerial Adventure Park has five forest rope courses, where safety and fun are paramount.
Are rope courses safe? Absolutely. Whether the course is a guided canopy tour, zip line or challenge course like Cranmore, safety and guest confidence are any operator’s number one focus. Guests are secured in a harness that would always be attached to safety lines. Our courses and all equipment are inspected daily to ensure guest and staff safety.
What if I’m afraid of heights? Ropes courses are designed to take you out of your comfort zone and provide you with a sense of fun and accomplishment with each course you complete. With our multi-level courses, you only have to ascend to a height that you are comfortable handling.
How do I choose the right course for me? Choosing the right course depends on what you are looking for. For a less physical experience, you may want to look into a guided canopy tour or zip lines. If you are looking into a more active experience, an aerial challenge course would fit your needs. Aerial challenge courses combine physical elements such as bridges, netting, tightropes, even snowboards that are on cables so you can ride between elements, along with zip lines built into each course.
Do I have to be in good shape? No, you don’t need to be in good shape. There are a few physical restrictions that will prevent someone from participation, such as pregnancy, kidney transplants and a few other items. Most restrictions are due to how a guest fits into a harness. It would be best to contact the resort or company you are thinking about visiting to find out what restrictions if any they have.
What should I wear? Comfortable clothing that is appropriate for the weather conditions. The only clothing requirement is closed-toe shoes. No sandals or flip-flops.
What if it starts raining or gets windy? We can operate rain or shine; however, we evaluate weather conditions with safety first in mind. If conditions are very windy or steady rain, we will not put guests out in the park. If a sudden downpour or thunderstorm springs up on us, we will clear the course and take guests inside until the storm passes. Once conditions clear, we reopen the park and allow guests back in. We also extend the block of time for the guest to ensure they get the full experience.
Are there staff members on the course along the way? Even though our courses are self-guided, we do have a number of staff members in the park at all times to aid our guests with support, suggestions and help, if needed. All staff members have extensive training on the equipment we use, safety procedures and guest service. We take training very seriously, and it is something we review and demonstrate proficiency at throughout the season. Many members of our staff are rock climbers with great technical skills and that safety-first thought process.
Can I bring a GoPro or take a selfie? A GoPro can be used, but you cannot bring a camera or cell phone onto the course. We want to make sure you are hands-free. Plus, cell phones generally don’t like being dropped from heights. We are also concerned for people who are beneath the courses.
What if I want to go down? Each course has several exit points if a guest wants to go down. If you are beyond an exit point and want to go down, a staff member can lower you to the ground.