By Jeff Nations
Business has been humming for a new zip line course that opened during the spring in Bentonville.
Virginia Canopy Tours, which built and operates the course located within Shenandoah River/Raymond R. "Andy" Guest Jr. State Park in Bentonville, began operations on April 1 and has seen a steady stream of customers for its treetop canopy tour.
"We never really had a grand opening because our check-in facility is still being constructed, but we've been open full-time since April 1," Virginia Canopy Tours office manager Bonnie Nicklien said. "We'll probably have a ribbon-cutting somewhere around September 1."
The tour, the only one of its kind located within a Virginia state park, consists of on-site training followed by a UTV trail ride to the course. Eight zip lines make up the course, which also includes a sky bridge, an air bridge, two nature walks and a rappel during the approximately three-hour tour.
Nicklien said the course can handle about 150 guests per day, with a maximum of nine participants in each group. Business has been brisk, especially on weekends.
"Most of it's word-of-mouth and Facebook right now," Nicklien said. "We also had a pre-opening Groupon [promotion] last November that sold over 9,000. Those have to be used by November of this year."
Participants must be at least age 10 and weigh 70 pounds, and will receive individual safety and braking training. Two certified guides accompany all groups on the course, and participants are attached to two steel cables by lanyards whenever above the forest floor.
Nicklien recommends reservations, but said there is usually space available for walk-ins.
"We take walk-ins, more easily during the week than on weekends," Nicklien said. "Especially on Saturday, we can't guarantee you'd start your tour right then without a reservation. You may have to wait an hour or so until some of our guides get back in."
The tour cost is $84.
For more information or to make reservations, call 540-622-2000 or visit the web site at www.zipthepark.com.