Finding Adventure on the Oklahoma River - MetroFamily Magazine
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Finding Adventure on the Oklahoma River

by Mari Farthing

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

It’s hard to miss the 80-foot tall skeletal structure soaring above the Oklahoma River just east of the Devon Boathouse. But take a closer look: it’s not a scaffold or a partially-completed building you see. Further study will reveal the multi-level adventure ropes course contained within the structure, the spiral slide attached to the side—both the largest of their kind in the country.

No, this structure, the SandRidge Sky Trail, isn’t a partially-constructed building, but it is part of a work in progress that is providing fun activities for kids and families alike.

The SandRidge Sky Trail

For the past several years, the Boathouse District has been growing into a unique feature of the downtown landscape. The Oklahoma River has grown from a flood control channel into an Olympic training site that hosts a robust rowing and paddling training facility. But the Boathouse District is not just for elite athletes, as there are plenty of activities on water and land for families to enjoy.

The real draw for me? That 80-foot structure that was previously mentioned, the Sky Trail. The day that I visited with my 11-year-old son, Spencer, was cloudy and just a little bit windy—not bad for Oklahoma. I have a healthy fear of heights, which was reignited as I stood at the base of the structure (have I mentioned that it’s 80-feet tall?), getting fitted into my safety harness.

Spencer wanted to charge ahead and start exploring, but I took it a bit more slowly. The Sky Trail features several levels of challenges, some more difficult than others. There are tightropes and wooden bridges and balancing beams to navigate. Some levels had small wooden platforms held by ropes that were like lily pads; one memorable challenge was a vertical rope net to climb across. While Spencer went across each of the challenges on every level, I admit to skipping a few that seemed a bit terrifying. But as I reached the top of the structure—80 feet in the Oklahoma sky!—I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to have challenged myself on this Sky Trail.

When it’s time to come down, there is the easy way (the stairs), the fun way (the slide) and the challenging way (the Rumble Drop). We chose the fun way, but only because the Rumble Drop was not open. Not saying that I would have chosen that path (I don’t know that I would ever jump off a perfectly good structure), but I do believe my adventuresome son would have taken the safe but scary plunge.

“The Sky Trail is the tallest in the world,” says Executive Director Mike Knopp. “It provides a unique experience, complimentary to what we’ve already got in place here.”

The type of belay system set up in the structure will allow for a lot of people to experience climbing on the multi-level structure at the same time. “The slide adds another element of fun. You can’t find this anywhere else, it’s unique to Oklahoma City,” continues Knopp.

Daytrip Destination

It’s easy to plan to spend a day on the River. The RIVERSPORT Adventures activities include fun options for all ages that will get families out on the river and actively engaged. Kids under 48"will enjoy the Youth Zone activities, which include a cloud bounce (a giant air-filled pillow), Sky Tykes mini-adventure course and a full playground of equipment. Watercraft, such as kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and water bikes are available for rental if visitors want to get on the water, and pedal jeeps, long boards and bikes can be rented for land-based fun. Visitors may choose a day pass to try them all; season passes are also available (see sidebar for details).

“We’re really trying to engage the community in terms of doing something that’s different, adventure-related, healthy and active,” explains Knopp. “Everything we’ve done here has an element of movement and physical fitness.”

Future Expansion

Knopp explains the overall goal of the investment and construction as building on an active future for Oklahoma’s youth. “The whole idea behind all of what we’ve done here is to build something unique,” says Knopp. “We’ve challenged ourselves to continue the active theme in a unique way… and created world-class standards.” One visit to the Oklahoma River and you will see that goal has been surpassed.

A Kid’s Experience at RIVERSPORT

I asked my son, Spencer (age 11) to tell me what he liked about Oklahoma RIVERSPORT and he provided me with the following:

My experience at RIVERSPORT was a lot of fun. My favorite part was doing the Sky Bounce. It feels like you are a marionette and it is very fun. The Sky Bounce is also the point where I was most scared.

My favorite part of the ropes course was the slide, where you ride a slide from all the way at the top. My favorite obstacles were the tightropes because they were the most challenging. I wasn’t scared up on the Sky Trails except for when it was windy. That was terrifying!
I would definitely do everything again. I would also like to do the Rumble Drop, which is where you jump off the ropes course tower and stop at the last minute. I think it would be a lot of fun.

Contact Information:

Oklahoma Boathouse District
725 S Lincoln Blvd.
405-552-4040, www.boathousedistrict.org

RIVERSPORT Adventures Summer Hours: Open daily Memorial Day through August 9. Sunday -Thursday, 1-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 10am-10pm.

Fall Hours: Open weekends August 10 through December 31, 1-8pm.

Special Holiday Hours: Labor Day (Monday, Sept 7) & Thanksgiving Weekend, (Friday-Sunday, Nov 27-29), 1-8pm

Adventures Day Passes $35; Sky Zip Pass additional $15 more. Season passes, $100;  Pricing subject to change.

If you plan to make a day of it, concessions and restrooms are available; or pack a blanket and have a picnic as there is ample space to sit and enjoy the scenery. Closed-toe shoes are required for the Sky Trail (no flip-flops).

Mari Farthing is an OKC-based freelance writer and editor. Find her at www.marifarthing.com.

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