A ropes course is a challenging outdoor personal development and team building activity which usually consists of high and/or low elements. Low elements take place on the ground or above the ground. High elements are usually constructed in trees or made of utility poles and require a belay for safety.
The ropes course is also an attraction manufactured by Ropes Courses, Inc. and can be found at several amusement parks, as well as family entertainment centers, resorts, camp sites and national parks. Some ropes courses require an additional fee, while others require a game card.
Ropes Courses feature a one-level and a multi-level course. They feature hundreds of different rope features, swinging beams, suspension bridges, flying islands, and floating stairs. Some of them feature a zipline, while others feature a rock wall. At some locations, a smaller version of the ropes course called Sky Tykes is allowed for small children, who can’t go on the larger course that is for bigger children and adults. Sky Tykes consists of miniature harnesses and the same rope levels. Parents need to supervise children during the course.
In the 2010s, Ropes Courses Inc. introduced the Sky Rail zipline and Quick Flight free-fall, which are featured on some newer ropes courses.
Each ropes course includes harnesses, although some locations feature helmets. There are two types of harnesses, a traditional one and a modified one. Both versions are also featured on rock walls.
- Traditional: The traditional harnesses are found at some locations. Prior to the introduction of the modified ones in 2012, traditional ones were found at several ropes courses after opening. Each traditional harness features two colors: a red one and a blue one. Small-sized and medium-sized guests would wear the red harness, while large-sized guests would wear the blue harness. Many of the straps are colored red or blue, while some of them are colored black. The red one also has a different variation, although this time, many of the straps are colored black with a few red straps. Traditional harnesses consist of a normal harness featuring three belts: one on the chest and two more on the legs, metal rings attached to each side and a triangular netting and a round hook on the back. There are four adjustment straps, in which guests can tighten and loosen. Most of the adjustment straps are located on the legs, while some are found on the lower sides and the shoulders. Some traditional harness feature a black strap holder on both sides of the shoulders. The strap holder holds down the adjustment straps on each side. Guests can insert the adjustment straps through the strap holder to prevent flapping. During a course, guests are not allowed to open and unlock the belts, as it could be dangerous. Opening and unlocking the belts can cause guests to fall off the course, leading to a serious injury or death. The belts must be closed and locked at all times during a course. Some ropes courses replaced the traditional harnesses with the modified ones, including Dutchman's Deck Adventure Course at Nickelodeon Universe Mall of America. The traditional harnesses were also mostly found on defunct rope courses, including Adventure Mountain at Dollywood.
- Modified: The modified harnesses were introduced in 2012 and are found at many locations. They are vastly different from the traditional harnesses. Some ropes courses have modified harnesses that replaced the traditional ones. Each traditional harness features three colors, a gray one, a red one and a blue one. Small-sized and medium-sized guests would wear the gray harness, while large-sized guests would wear the red harness. Modified harnesses consist of a holding strap, in which guests can hold on to, a keyhole strap, where one rope is inserted, adjustment straps on the back and oval-shaped padding. Guests can adjust their harness by using the adjustment straps located on the lower sides. The modified harnesses reduce the belts from opening and unlocking during a course. They also allow guests to be secured during suspended courses, ziplines and free-falls.
- Sky Trail Discovery: A single-level course that serves compact floor space and ceiling height. It also allows for the opportunity to entertain guests under the attraction with a multitude of activities such as arcade games, miniature golf, party rooms and other activities.
- Sky Trail Navigator: A double-level course that is similar to the Discovery model. It consists of a lower level course and an upper level course. Some of the locations include the Sky Rail zipline.
- Sky Trail Explorer: A multi-level course that features significant amounts of visitors both indoors and outdoors. An added benefit to this design is the limitless pole expansion which allows the attraction to continue its growth as needed.
- Sky Trail Voyager: A multi-level course that allows locations with extensive amounts of foot traffic. Its 2-4 linear paths of elements and potential to soar up to four levels tall safely support large capacities of guests as they enjoy themselves on the attraction. It offers several viable options in terms of additions, which includes a Sky Rail zipline or a Quick Flight free-fall exit to guarantee participants a thrilling time they would be hard pressed to forget.
- Sky Trail Expedition: A multi-level course that includes two linear paths of elements on up to three levels to further maximize throughputs and allow for infinite self-led quests. Its single pole, linear design and circular system options minimize footprint while at the same time benefit locations with high visitor traffic. This course can be placed in a variety of environments and most commonly is utilized the heaviest by water based businesses such as cruise ships or locations who aim to maximize throughput and with minimal required square footage.