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—Photo courtesy of Heather Mundt

Choose Your Own Challenge at Open Air Adventure Park

This family-friendly challenge course in Estes Park is created especially for thrill-seekers.

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For residents of the Denver metro area, taking a day or weekend trip to Estes Park offers a fairly predictable itinerary of activities. There’s likely an outing into Rocky Mountain National Park or a shopping jaunt along Elkhorn Avenue. Perhaps it includes a tour of the renowned Stanley Hotel or a ride down the giant, rainbow-hued slide at Fun City.

And now there’s another activity to add to that list, one that your kids are sure to enjoy: Open Air Adventure Park.

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Tucked modestly amid the colorful Fun City backdrop—and just south of Estes Park Brewery—the area’s newest recreational endeavor opened last summer, and has enjoyed an influx of seasonal visitors ever since.

“Estes Park is a beautiful place that is a huge draw for tourists and Colorado locals alike,” says co-owner Tim Kreutzer. “There are lots of activities in town, however, nothing quite like ours.”

(Check out 5280’s First-Timer’s Guide to Estes Park)

After working in the challenge-course industry for more than a decade, Kreutzer loved the business but not the mandatory travel that kept him away from his family—a wife and three young children—roughly one-third of the year. With a plan to start a business of his own, he and wife Catherine, both Colorado natives, relocated to Estes Park from Denver in March 2014. Along with Catherine’s parents, Jim and Amy Croft, they opened the aerial adventure park in hopes of offering visitors more than just an enjoyable activity.

“We provide an experience that is fun but also can be mentally and physically demanding,” says Kreutzer.

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The Open Air Adventure Park includes many of the same elements as other courses—from hanging chairs to aerial tightropes and swinging log steps; 32 in all—suspended between 10 and 21 feet above the ground. But what makes this course unique is that participants can choose a route to tackle during their 90-minute session.

“Most other courses are more linear; you get up and go in one direction,” he says. “Here, you can go whatever way you want. You have control of your experience.”

The elements are marked according to difficulty, just like on the ski slopes: green diamond for the easiest challenges, blue for moderate, and black for the most difficult. Participants are harnessed and hooked into a two-claw lanyard system—only one claw can be unhooked at any one time—a safeguard against falling while switching from one element to another.

(Read more: Go sky climbing in Salida)

It’s the freedom of choice that appeals to people of all skill levels and age ranges—the minimum age is 5.

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“We are a great fit for a wide variety of demographics,” Kreutzer says. “Some will love it because of the physical challenge at 10 and 21 feet in the air or the thrill of adventure; others find it to be terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. Some have a confidence-building experience, and others leave with a feeling of great accomplishment.”

It’s precisely why he and his family built the adventure park, Kreutzer says, “to offer a new, unique experience that can be so many things for so many people.”

Visit: Open Air Adventure Park is located at 490 Prospect Village Dr., Estes Park. It’s open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from May through October (depending on weather). 970-586-3066; openairadventurepark.com

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