Cheap Thrills


Winter 2015

High Adventure without the High Learning Curve - or the High Price

My pulse quickens. My palms sweat. My throat is dry. I glance down from my perch, a narrow platform wrapped around a tree trunk where I am cemented 20 feet above the dirt. I have spent the better part of an hour crawling through wooden boxes, zip-lining between trees, and tiptoeing along metal tightropes. 

Adventure Parks

Learning the Ropes

Less than an hour earlier, my eight-year-old daughter and I had bounded up to tackle this ropes course, a complex web of wood, ropes, and metal strung through the treetops at the Adventure Park in Virginia Beach amid five acres of old-growth forest. Like most rope climbing and zip-line courses, this one was quickly accessible. After strapping into a harness heavy with carabiner clips and attending a brisk 15-minute training session, we charted a course through the trees so swiftly that there was no time for my fear of heights to seize me.

All-ages Adventure

And that’s the beauty of adventure park courses. Anyone aged five and up can try it, making it a perfect gateway to other adventure sports. Unlike so many adrenaline-junkie pursuits where weeks, months, or even years of training are required to safely experience them, the thrill of the ropes course is within easy reach and relatively inexpensive (usually around $100). And thanks to the huge variety of indoor and outdoor adventure parks around the country, you can experience affordable adventure no matter what the season. 

Photo: Photo: CandyBoxImages/

Guided Adventure

Photo: Arthur Fujisaki/

Toward Transformation

According to a recent study conducted by George Washington University and Adventure Travel Trade Association, adventure travel is the fastest-growing segment in the travel industry, with an estimated average yearly growth of 65 percent. “Guided adventure experiences break down the barrier to entry. They’re almost risk-free, but the perceived risk is what makes it so exciting,” explains Subaru Outback owner Dan Moore, an adventure guide who now serves as a consultant to the industry. “These experiences are transformative because they push people out of their comfort zones.”

These experiences are transformative because they push people out of their comfort zones.