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A few months back, my wife and I had elected to take part in a pub crawl in our little city of Clawson, Michigan as part of a fundraiser for our daughter’s elementary school. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…a pub crawl for an elementary school fundraiser? I know it sounds unorthodox, but there was a great turnout, and they raised a ton of money for the school activities.
Anyways, the two of us met up with the neighbors across the street and reveled in the pub crawl, visiting a bunch of the local pubs in our little town; 54 West, Black Lotus Brewing Company, Moose Winooski’s, Old Detroit Burger Bar, Renshaw Lounge, Tavern On The Main, Woodpile BBQ Shack, and finally winding up at the Montage Grill. At the end of the crawl, they held raffles and a silent auction, and introduced a local indie rock band, Mental Health Day, that really rocked the place out.
The one thing that stood out to me within the choices of auction items were 2 passes to The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield, Michigan. So, I placed my bid at the right time, and made sure that I scoped out and snatched a seat to lap up a brew with a straight view of the bidding table for this particular item. Just moments before the auction was ending, I took one last trip over to make sure my bid was top. I ending up obtaining an amazing deal on these tickets, and was ecstatic when they called my name as the winning bid.
As you may already know, we have been busy as heck the past few months around our house, so the tickets were left in my desk drawer for months gathering dust. I was so delighted when my wife brought up the idea of getting a babysitter for the girls and going out on a date. I had remembered the tickets that were collecting dust in the drawer, and whipped them out. When I visited the website to check hours and times available, I noticed that they were only open a little bit longer for this season, until November 12. Perfect. Just in time to book our reservations the weekend before they close, until next spring.
I was simply able to call and get some assistance over the phone with reserving our visit using the passes we had won. However, their website makes it extremely simple to reserve your spot using their calendar and online reservation site. You can even check out photos of the park and YouTube videos as well. Furthermore, they have an option to purchase season passes Count me in!
Before we get into the exciting stuff about the extraordinary experience we had, please allow me to provide you some details about the park. According to their website, The Adventure Park of West Bloomfield is the largest aerial forest climbing park in Michigan. They are located at 6600 West Maple Road, West Bloomfield Township, MI 48322. With 10 Trails, 15 zip lines, 5 difficulty levels, and over 140 challenge bridges, your 3 hour adventure will be wholly occupied with daring excitement and will give you quite the workout while you’re at it.
Warning; I’m going to start talking a little bit like a skier, and begin throwing in some skiing terms, as this park is designed similar to a ski resort of sorts. All 10 of the courses begin at the central hub, or main platform, which makes it very simple to know where you are headed in order to begin your next run. You are provided a pass, just like a lift ticket, when you begin, and after a safety briefing, you’re suited up in your heavy duty safety harnesses, as shown to you by one of their very friendly and witty guides or “Staff” as they prefer to be called. Shhhh, it’s their code name.
After the safety briefing, you get suited up, grab your gloves (trust me, you’ll need them), and practice using the equipment at the practice station before they let you go off on your own to explore. When you make your way over to the main platform, you will notice that each of the courses is rated at different difficulty levels with the same color and shape designations as your typical ski resort. So, going from easiest to most difficult, you have the Purple level, Yellow level, and Green level trails. Next are the Blue level trails, followed by the Black Diamond and Double Black Diamond trails.
The courses consist of a series of platforms up in the trees, connected by cable, rope, wood, and zip lines to form bridges. Each bridge presents a different challenge of how to get from one platform to the next. It’s up to you to sort out how you plan on taking on that challenge, head on, and complete the course.
I grasp the notion that this very well may sound a bit terrifying and precarious, but consider me truthful, the equipment is designed to keep you completely secure and protected. However, when it comes to the terrifying part, that you will have to handle on your own account.
In preparation for our experience, my wife and I had an idea of what to expect in our minds after viewing the website and a few YouTube videos, but it didn’t quite prepare us for how we would actually feel and what we would experience being up in the trees ourselves and actually doing it. When we arrived, we first checked in at the office/shop, which was in a Yurt. What a really cool idea for this park. We were greeted by a smiley and welcoming face behind the counter. The woman confirmed our reservation, and provided is with our receipt along with a small map of the park, showing us where to go and of course, where the restrooms were (very important).
We walked over to the park entrance and checked in at the gear station where we were cheerfully greeted by one of the staff who scanned our receipt, printed our “lift tickets”, and pointed us in the direction of the safety briefing. We were in a small group along with two other couples for the briefing. Staff man Cody did a thorough job explaining the rules, showing us how to gear up, and how the equipment worked, all the while keeping it fun and interesting with a few jokes that kept a smile on our face and made us feel comfortable.
Post-presentation, we were given the nod to gear up and practice using the carabiners and the zip line trolley at the practice station. Then off we went, on our own adventure for the next few hours. I can’t believe they let us loose in this place. It was like an extraordinary wonderland up in the trees. It seemed like we were in the Ewok village from Return of the Jedi.
Since this was our first experience visiting an aerial treetop park, we opted to begin with the easiest courses. It felt just like I was learning to ski, and had to begin on the bunny hill. I couldn’t gather how amusing and exhilarating it was. I could see in her eyes that my wife was having the time of her life just as well. It was one massive obstacle course up in the air, in the trees, among nature. Any direction you look; all around you; only nature. Not a building or vehicle or orange construction cone in sight. Now this is what I’m talkin’ ‘bout.
When taking on the courses, the more difficult the course you choose to conquer, the more you have to cautiously think about how to overcome your next obstacle. When we worked our way up to one of the green level courses, I could begin to feel it in my arms, neck, and upper back. This was a real workout, but utterly amusing at the same time. We had all the time in the world to figure out how to get to the next platform, and I was most excited to arrive at the next zip line on the lot of the courses we chose to battle.
We had our own timeline and could sit down and rest at one of the many picnic tables they have available in multiple different areas of the park. I noticed groups of people had brought in their own coolers of food and drinks. You are able to order pizza delivery or catered food there as well. Jackie and I discussed how grand of an idea it would be to have one of the kids’ birthday parties here. By the way, make sure you wander over to the website, as they offer birthday party packages as well as group deals.
Now, back to the adventure. By the time we coerced ourselves into growing the guts to try one of the blue level courses, my wife was a little nervous, as the course would take us up to higher platforms, further above the ground. I must admit that I was nervous too, but I was ready for the next challenge. One of the staff also sold us on it by letting us know the one we would eventually select had the longest zip line in the park. I was unreservedly geeked and ready to take on the challenge for the thrill of it all.
I was not prepared for the adjustment in difficulty and exactly how demanding it would turn out to be. The amount of upper body strength and balance it required was astounding. It felt incredible, exhilarating, sensational, phenomenal. Some of the challenges took a bit of thinking and deduction to choose the right way to overcome, especially on the courses higher up in the trees. Despite the fact of knowing I was completely safe, it still felt like I could plummet to the ground at any moment.
After we completed the blue level course, we were physically beat. I still wanted to try the next level up, the black diamond. However, it would have to wait for our next visit. Even though we were only there for three hours, it felt like a full twelve hour adventure, at least. We couldn’t stop smiling and laughing, or in some cases crying in nervousness and terror, as we stepped the wrong way on one of the spinning obstacles or lost our grip mid-reach.
It must be impossible to complete all ten courses in a three hour span of the experience, which leaves the excitement of looking forward to our next visit being a completely different adventure. I want to bring back my family and friends to this place. I want them to experience what we had. I urge you as well to seek out one of the multiple adventure parks this company has to offer. I noticed they are not only located in Michigan, but also have locations in other states as Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, and two parks in Connecticut. Check them out at the mother site at funinthetrees.com. I can guarantee you will have an exciting and spectacular adventure.
I must also add to this, when I met with Thomas, the Park Manager, in person, I felt grateful to have been able to shake the hand of such a down-to-earth, fun, and interesting man. He was very kind and helpful in answering my questions and exceptionally knowledgeable of everything that had to do with the park, the workings of the construction and design, as well as the people on his team. One would be so lucky to work for such a great being as he.
It’s sad to know that they are closing down for the winter, but completely understandable…especially if you know how Michigan winters can be. I can’t wait till they open up again next year in April. I’ll definitely be returning. Look out Adventure Park at West Bloomfield. As the great Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “I’ll be back.”
If you do have the opportunity, get there this weekend before they shut ‘er down for the season. Also, keep a close eye on their website as they will open up the reservation system for booking your adventures for next year as well as opening up the ability to purchase your season passes come mid-winter. Get prepared for your next aerial adventure at The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield, Michigan. You never know, maybe I’ll just see you in the trees.