Every once in a while there is a new kid on the block that raises the bar. Within Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, that is easily Cypress Hills Eco Adventures.
And, to think that I nearly didn’t go on the Canopy Tour because of a little condition I have called “Scaredy-Cat Disease.”
Before I went on my first Canopy tour I needed to sit myself down and say, “listen here! You have signed up for a two hour Canopy Tour with experienced guides. There are rules, regulations and safety measures that must be abided by for this business to successfully run. You are harnessed and tethered. It is time to get over being a scaredy-cat, embrace the adrenaline junkie within you and climb to the first platform.”
So I joined the group and climbed…
and then climbed some more …As you probably suspect, I had nothing to worry about. The two guides we had along with us were wonderful and most importantly they were both patient and encouraging to me while giving the adrenaline junkies of our group ways to get a bit more of a thrill. As I closed my eyes and made myself walk off the edge, others in my group took off doing a the flying squirrel or had races hanging upside down.
Each of the guides (this year they have hired 13 of them) goes through approximately 150 hours of technical training on site plus facilitation and leadership training to make sure that guests have the best possible experience.
With confidence, I predict that 2012 is going to be a busy season for this young company. Not only has it been featured on the cover of the Saskatchewan Discovery Guide, it also won the distinction of being Tourism Saskatchewan’s 2011 Rookie of the year because of its immediate impact on tourism activity in the area.
In March, an on-line booking option was set up. According to the primary owner Jori Kirk, they were already booking 4 days in advance last year. “People would think they could just show up and zip that day,” said Kirk.
Because the tour takes two hours it is necessary to book ahead. It is not realistic to think you can just show up plan to wait in line for your turn.
There are a number of products aside from the Canopy Tour that you can partake. You have to be between 60 and 250 lbs to go on the tour, so they have created a smaller course for the kids under 60 lbs. There is also the climbing wall and a recently expanded slackline site.
New to slacklining? There are lessons on Wednesday and Saturday Nights throughout the summer. You can also book online or stop in at the site.
Good to Know:
The Eco Adventure owners are huge advocates of promoting local business. There is even a “local” tab on their website that points out all the unique experiences in the Cypress Hills Area. They also sell packages, such as zip and sip, so that their clients get the best bang for their buck exploring the park. He also encourages people to take some time out of the park and visit Maple Creek, a community that is going through the facelift process which has many businesses pushing to raise the bar to become a “destination” in their own right.
If you don’t have a Saskatchewan Provincial Park Pass you will need to pay a day-rate to access the Park.
How to get there:
Once you are in Maple Creek, located South of the Trans-Canada Highway, follow the signage to the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. Once inside the park, you will be given a map of the park.
The bathrooms are within a yurt. So it feels a bit like a glorified outhouse, but WAY cleaner and NOT Stinky. I was very impressed with the facilities.