The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring's 13 courses are color-coded by difficulty level, from yellow for beginners to double black diamonds for experts. They aren't ski trails, though—they're climbing challenges. More than 150 platforms adorn 5 acres of trees, which participants trek among by way of cable, wood, and rope bridges, as well as ziplines. A short safety briefing precedes all excursions, covering how to use the included gear and harnesses.
The park's main courses aren't the only place to test climbing skills. Over in the Monkey Grove, visitors can scale 10 trees fastened with the footholds and grips of a classic rock wall. Younger climbers, meanwhile, can explore The Labyrinth, a small, contained structure featuring more than 40 junior-sized versions of the park's other challenges. The courses illuminate on select Glow-in-the-Park evenings, when food, live music, and hoot-owl choruses await climbers upon their return to terra firma.
Drivers rev their engines across three separate raceways at The Go-Kart Track, where thrill seekers can split their time between high-speed chases and rounds of mini golf. The family-oriented entertainment center's three distinct go-kart tracks cater to drivers young and old. The junior track safeguards youngsters with an automatic braking system every time they release the gas pedal, and the family track lets people ride shotgun in double-seater cars. Finally, the drift track—coated in a special powder—allows drivers 54 inches and taller to slip and slide around turns, drifting like their favorite racecar driver or continent. Aside from its automotive pursuits, The Go-Kart track features a mini-golf course with nine professionally designed holes peppered with obstacles such as cacti and tires.
At Adventure Park USA, visitors amble, shriek, and laugh through a sprawling 17.5 acres replete with Old West–themed rides and attractions such as the Wildcat roller coaster, which dips and curves around a track in order to elicit screams of joy. Outdoor diversions such as bumper boats and go-karts stoke competitive fires, and a collection of little tykes rides invite pintsize riders to spin in teacups or gallop on carousel horseback. Open year-round, a 22,000-square-foot indoor frontier playzone thumbs its nose at inclement weather with laser tag, an arcade, a ropes course, and a climbing wall. Owner Larry Stottlemeyer continues to expand this already extensive list of family-friendly diversions.
Terrapin Adventures never fails to live up to its name—even their swing set gets the stomach fluttering with excitement. To be fair, though, the swing in question is anything but the traditional apparatus you'd find at a city park. It seats three people and starts its trajectory 40 feet above the ground, generating 2Gs of force as it swishes riders back and forth over the landscape. The park's other attractions are equally exhilarating. On the high ropes course, visitors attached to sturdy safety harnesses cross 18 traverses situated between lofty platforms; some must be tackled via a rickety bridge, while others require leaps of faith. The 43-foot high climbing tower offers 10 routes up and down, including a head-first downward climb over the Rainbow Serpent. Otherwise, the 330-foot-long zipline sends visitors gliding through the treetops at speeds of up to 20 mph, fast enough to beat the USA track team's star squirrel.
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