Plus, “Salute to Service” by Edge Adventures honors veterans
by Melanie Jongsma
CROWN POINT, Ind. (May 8, 2018) – On a bright Saturday morning, I travelled to Crown Point, Indiana, to experience Edge Adventures Deep River Aerial Park. Disclosure: the PR company for the park offered me two free tickets. I wasn’t sure whether a park in Crown Point would be news to Lansing readers, but when I learned that Edge Adventures is the only aerial park in Northwest Indiana, and this is only its second year of operation, I decided to go and learn more.
I also learned that the park is intended to be family-friendly, so I took my 12-year-old niece Gretchen as my guest.
As it turns out, there was another family from Lansing at the park when we arrived. Duane Huizenga and his family had discovered Edge Adventures last year, and they enjoyed it enough to come back on opening day 2018. This time, Huizenga was at the park with his sons and their friend. He told me that the female members of the family were doing “something with flowers” that day, so he and the boys decided to do something manly.
What it is
Edge Adventures is actually a brand of adventure parks, and the one in northwest Indiana is associated with Deep River Water Park. “It features over 50 challenging treetop obstacles and zip lines that provide thrills for everyone at every skill level,” says the website. Edge Adventures Deep River is also the first Edge Adventures to have a kids park, with elements designed closer to the ground for children four years old and older.
Overall summary: It’s a more physical experience than, say, an amusement park, where most of the rides involve sitting. But it’s probably not much more physical than an old-fashioned community park with equipment that involves climbing, swinging, and balancing.
What to wear
The park website doesn’t give a lot of instruction about how to dress for an aerial adventure, so I’ll share what I learned from my visit:
- Sturdy shoes. The website recommends close-toed shoes, so I wore some flexible slip-on sneakers. For the most part, this was fine, but there were a few times when I would have preferred something with a thicker sole.
- Lots of pockets. With zippers. There were two women in my group who had small purses that they had strapped over their shoulders. Our guide suggested that they leave their purses in their car or with a friend—even a small, simple bag would have the tendency to tangle in the harnesses we would all be wearing. I was glad I had enough deep pockets to accommodate my camera/phone, a small wallet, a packet of candy, and a couple of other small devices I always have. I asked the guide if my phone would be safe in my back pocket, and she didn’t want to commit one way or another, so I managed to fit it in my front pocket instead. This made it difficult to access once my harness was on, so if you want to take pictures during your aerial adventure, you might prefer to wear something like cargo shorts, or pockets that zip or button shut.
- Simple hair. You’ll be wearing a helmet the whole time you’re in the park. ‘Nough said.
Your first stop after check-in is the harnessing station, where a park guide talks a group through the process of stepping into the harness, buckling it, putting the straps over your shoulders, cinching everything, and then making sure it’s tight enough. Depending on how large your group is, and how many kids there are, and how familiar people are with harnesses, this step could take a while.
We spent the next 15–20 minutes in a “practice park,” where the guide introduced us to the basic pieces of equipment we were wearing and showed us how to connect to the course.
On the practice course, we also learned what to do when you get to a zip line: You attach a different piece of equipment—your trolley—to the cable and then hang your C ring on the trolley. A trolley has little metal wheels that allow you to zip on a zip line.
The practice area is also where we learned the rules of the park: No more than three people on a platform; only one person on a feature; no horseplay in the park; and ask for help if you need it.
Our first adventure
Gretchen and I started on the Green course, which is an intermediate level of difficulty.
Even though nothing was particularly difficult, the Green course took us about an hour to complete. Since we were still figuring out the C rings and the connectors in between each feature, some of that time was spent on each platform, trying to maneuver our C rings onto the next section of the course. And since only one of us could be on each feature at a time, we had to wait for each other, so we could help each other with the C rings.
After the Green course, we moved on to the Blue course, which is a zip only course. (Edge Adventures Deep River is the only Edge Adventures park to have a zip only course.)
On my first Blue zip line, I learned that you have to prepare for your landing. Since I was zip lining from one tree to another, there was a landing platform at the end. But you can’t just hit the platform, you have to land on it, which means you need to grab something at the landing point and then step off the feature.
If you don’t, then you end up rolling back—”unzipping,” as it were—and getting stuck, suspended between the two trees until one of the friendly park guides comes to rescue you.
While I was dangling there, I learned that my guide was performing a “Level 2 rescue.” This means that he would toss a rope over the zip cable so I could grab it and hook it to my harness, so he could pull me to the landing platform.
Naturally, I had to ask what other levels of rescue there are. So I learned that a Level 1 rescue is when the guide just talks you through how to pull yourself to the landing platform. If you’re close enough, and strong enough, you can grab the zip line itself and pull your trolley along until you reach the platform. Since I was suspended in the middle of a pretty long zip line, we decided not to attempt Level 1.
A Level 3 rescue is when the guide has to get on the course and zip line over to you, and then pull you to the landing platform. My guide told me you pretty much have to be unconscious to need a Level 3.
My Level 2 rescue was the only problem we had on the zip line course, and by this time we were much more proficient with the C rings, and zipping is much faster than walking, so the Blue course took us only about 15 minutes to complete.
A fun morning
There were several other courses at varying skill levels. We didn’t have time to attempt these courses, but we could see cargo nets, rope steps, and quite a variety of features.
If you’re looking for a different way to spend a few hours, Edge Adventures is a nice alternative for active people. If you have foot problems or balance problems, some of the courses will be difficult for you, but there are places to sit and take a break if you need it.
The aerial park is positioned beside Deep River Water Park, so you could do both in one outing if you were feeling particularly adventurous.
Edge Adventures Deep River Aerial Park is open weekends in May, and beginning May 26 it will be open daily through mid-November. The park is open from 10:00am–6:00pm, with the last adventure beginning at 4:00pm.
- All-day adventures: $79
- 3-hour adventure: $49 ($39 for 8-12 years)
- 2-hour adventure: $42 ($32 for 8-12 years)
- Kids adventure: 1 hour for $10 (4-7 years)
- Free parking
Special offer for veterans
As a Salute to Service, Edge Adventures will donate $1.00 per ticket to DAV (Disabled American Veterans) May 26 through May 28. Plus, on Memorial Day all current and former military personnel climb for free.
For general and advanced ticket information for Edge Adventures:
Edge Adventures Deep River Aerial Park is located at 9001 E. Lincoln Highway in Crown Point, Indiana.