Story and photos by Gareth Kelly
What weighs 230 pounds flies at over 30 miles per hour and has an enormous grin on its face? I do after finishing the last zip line at the new Vista Lago Adventure Park at Lopez Lake in Arroyo Grande. Opened in December 2014, the rope adventure course and zip lines have already been a big hit with locals and tourists alike adding to what is already a popular recreation area.
“These types of zip line courses are very common in Europe,” said owner Bill Thoming. “There are 600 in France alone. We used those courses as our inspiration and after over a year and a half of planning and meetings we finally opened.”
Feeling all pumped to get out the course I ‘roped’ in my friend Zeke as my man date for the day. After stepping into our harnesses we were introduced to the ‘smart snap’ our new best friend for the duration of the course.
“The smart snap technology has really changed the game for rope courses,” said Thoming. “Until a few years ago people would always have to be clipped on to the wire by an actual person at every station change. With the smart snap you are free to move through the course without a guide from station to station.”
The smart snap karabiner requires you to safely clip onto the new line before allowing you to disconnect from the old one, so you are always connected to the course.
Up on the course we started out on the lower, easier runs. Wooden planks, hanging ropes and cargo netting stood between us and the next section. The two lower courses are approximately 20 feet above the ground. As we progressed each course got progressively more difficult as did each obstacle. Tires, suspended wooden blocks and wire swings challenged us more and more. By the time we got to the final course, the black diamond, we were both starting to breath a little heavier. Now approximately 50 feet above the ground the black diamond is not for the feint of heart.
Luckily we made it through and were rewarded with a spectacular zip line ride from the top of the course, reaching over 30 miles per hour before hitting a state-of-the- art breaking system and safely coming to a rest on a platform 280 feet across a road and down towards, what is for now, a very dry lake bed.
“We’ve been really excited with the response from the local community,” said manager Amy Fordyce. “Especially the park staff. It’s such a gorgeous area. People can come fish, kayak, BBQ and now zip line. We’ve had quite a lot of corporate parties. A group will go up on the course while someone barbeque. It makes for a really great business day out”
Not content with a lower and upper course, over 50 exciting elements and more than 2,100 total feet of zip line for a two and a half hour experience the owners have a few new projects in the works.
“We have a couple of projects I really can’t talk about as they’re top secret right now but I can tell you about our new free fall section,” said Thoming. “People will be able to jump and free fall from about 40 feet in the air before being caught by a technologically advanced quick jump system.”
With arms burning and adrenaline flowing, my man date and I stepped out of our equipment and went off in search of a cool glass of local chardonnay.
With courses for the kids and the kid within us all as well as different packages for unlimited access, unlimited zipping and fun for all ages Vista Lago is a perfect addition to an area filled with adventure seekers.
To find out more about Vista Lago or to book your next adventure visit them online at www.vistalagoadventurepark.com
Gareth loves adventures. Do you have an adventure you would like to see him try? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org