Enjoying airborne adventures

Opportunities abound to enjoy the great outdoors off the ground

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Coloradans are known for their love of outdoor adventures.

Traditionally, these activities take place on solid ground. However, the Denver metro area also offers plenty of high-adrenaline experiences that get participants off the ground and into the air.

Soaring above Golden

Paragliding is kind of like sitting in a lawn chair in the sky, said David Hach, co-owner of Paraglide Tandem, a Golden-based company that serves Colorado residents and tourists.

“It really feels like we’re flying like a bird,” Hach said. “And the views are amazing.”

Paraglide Tandem started in 2013 and today, the Paraglide Tandem team is made up of eight instructors, all certified by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association as tandem pilots.

The experience lasts about two hours, Hach said. The instructor will meet the client at about 10 a.m. — Paraglide Tandem flies in the morning when there’s no turbulence, Hach said — in the parking area at the base of Mount Zion, which is near the Chimney Gulch Trailhead off U.S. 6 in Golden. From the parking lot, the two take a five-to-10-minute walk to the launch site, which is near the Colorado School of Mines’ M on Mount Zion.

“Then we sit back, relax and watch the weather for a bit,” Hach said.

The instructor will then get the client geared up and they’ll do a practice launch. Then, the two step into the 42-square-meter glider — the guest in front and the pilot in the back.

“We wait for a nice gust of wind, and then we launch,” Hach said, adding there’s no free-fall involved. “We’ll soar around for as long as we can. And if they want, we’ll do tricks.”

Generally, a flight will last about five to 15 minutes, depending on conditions, Hach said.

“I love the reaction that everybody has,” he said. “They’re always surprised how smooth and mellow it is.”

Paragliding is a “risky sport,” Hach said, but Paraglide Tandem instructors are well-versed in the sport and they will only take people out “when conditions are perfect for a safe flight.”

Hach went paragliding for the first time on his fifth birthday in 1993.

“I’ve been hooked ever since,” he said. “It’s my passion and it’s fun to be able to share it with people.”

Get a rush on ropes course

Compared to other experiences that get people off the ground, the ropes course at Adventure Golf & Raceway in Westminster is a safe way to challenge your physical abilities, while still getting that adrenaline rush.

“People enjoy the controlled environment,” said Allen Brown, the managing director of Adventure Golf & Raceway. The ropes course “gives them a way to get that rush without the potential to get hurt.”

The Adventure Ropes Course is a two-level course that offers 25 different challenges with varying degrees of difficulty. Perched above a giant maze made of constructed walls, the first level of the ropes course is about 10 or 12 feet off the ground, Brown said, and the second level is about 20 feet off the ground. Challenges range from walking across tires to navigating a slackline. People are harnessed in, and once on the course, they choose their own path, Brown said.

“People tend to be really nervous when they first try it,” Brown said. “But then, we see that they gain confidence and start to enjoy the interaction with the device. And then there’s some people who don’t want to come down.”

It takes about 30 minutes for a person doing it for the first time to complete the beginner challenges, Brown said.

The ropes course was originally at the former Heritage Square site — a tourist attraction near Golden that has since closed — and was installed at Adventure Golf & Raceway in 2016.

All sorts of people have enjoyed it since then, Brown said, including individuals who want to challenge themselves, families who want bonding time and groups for team building.

“The ropes course (and its challenges) pushes people to do things they’re not comfortable with at first,” Brown said. But in the end, “they enjoy trying something they haven’t done before.”

Go on an adventure

Located within Philip S. Miller Park, Castle Rock Adventure Park offers three main activities — a zipline tour, the Epic Adventure Tower and the Sky Trek.

Each has a different draw, said Adam White, general manager of Castle Rock Adventure Park, but all of them will get your heart pumping.

“They’re different than anything else you can find,” White said. “And you get great views, with essentially no obstructions because you’re so high up.”

The Sky Trek is Castle Rock Adventure Park’s newest attraction. It features four levels — the top is 50 feet off the ground — and 120 different obstacles. The Sky Trek’s Ninja Warrior Experience features a course similar to NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” TV series, White said.

The Epic Adventure Tower is “the destination for your adrenaline junkie,” White said.

Among other features, it includes a 42-foot climbing wall, four rappelling stations and three different platforms, including the 75-foot Eagles Nest, which offers a harnessed freefall.

The Castle Rock Adventure Park opened in 2015 with the zipline tour.

The zipline tour provides an adrenaline experience that’s not too overwhelming, White said, but “it’s still a lot of fun flying through the air.”

The zipline tour takes about two to three hours to complete. There’s about a mile of hiking, which is split up among the 10 ziplines. Along the route, each line gets longer and faster. People take the tour in small groups accompanied by a guide certified by the Association for Challenge Course Technology.

People enjoy different kinds of outdoor adventures that gives them a break from their normal, daily routines, White said.

“Most people’s day-in-and-day-out lives are spent on the ground,” he said. “Getting off the ground is inherently different. And you get to experience the season and the views — the best that nature can offer.”

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