GUNTERSVILLE, ALA — The Alabama State Parks System is pleased to announce that Lake Guntersville State park will open a zipline canopy tour to the public in May. The Alabama State Parks System has partnered with Historic Banning Mills and American Adventure Park Systems to build and operate the Lake Guntersville Zipline and Aerial Adventure Park.
Historic Banning Mills joins a growing list of concessionaires throughout Alabama’s State Parks System that pay to construct, maintain and operate attractions at parks. No taxpayer money or funds from Alabama’s State Parks are being used in the construction of these ecotourism attractions and aerial adventures. Historic Banning Mills was chosen after a competitive bidding process.
“We have numerous private partnerships at our parks around the state,” says Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks director. “Our existing concession agreements have been very successful and have helped attract tens of thousands of guests to our parks. We expect the new aerial attraction to be equally successful and bring new visitors to our incredible parks.”
Lake Guntersville’s ecotours will have three levels of development. The first level, opening to the public in May, will have a total of 11-14 elements between 20 and 75 feet high. Seven to Nine elements will be ziplines from 75 to 400 feet in length, the ecotour will also have four or five wooden suspension bridges. The designers of the ecotours never know what Mother Nature will throw at them, because of this the designers of the ecotours must be flexible and make changes to the course in order to leave a minimal impact on the natural environment.
“These new ziplines and ecotours are an exciting addition to Lake Guntersville State Park,” says Michael Jeffreys, Alabama State Park system’s northeast district superintendent and Lake Guntersville’s park manager. “We’ve been anticipating this development for months and despite the troubles the parks have faced, we’re thrilled our partners at Historic Banning Mills and American Adventure Park Systems will be opening level one of the ecotour in time for summer.”
The Lake Guntersville Zipline is just the first of multiple eco-adventures coming to Lake Guntersville State Park and three other Alabama State Parks. These eco-adventures are a subsidiary of Historic Banning Mills, which is a 501(c)(3) conservation center. The Banning, Ga., based conservation and ecotourism company has more than 35 years of experience and expertise in management, operation, development and construction of zipline canopy tours and aerial adventure parks.
Historic Banning Mills boasts the longest zipline canopy tour in the world. But Banning Mills owner Donna Holder says they plan to set a new world record. “We plan to complete level 1 tours at four state parks over the next year. After the level 1 tours are complete we’ll work with American Adventure Park Systems to expand the aerial attractions around the state. We’re still working on the process and plans, but we hope to create the world’s longest zipline at Cheaha State Park, at 8,000 feet.”
Ziplines and other aerial adventures have a minimal environmental impact and have significantly less impact on the natural environment compared to the building of a trail. Ecotours give adventure seekers an opportunity to experience the natural, undisturbed landscape from a unique point of view.
“We use every precaution when designing and building these aerial adventure courses,” says Holder. “For nearly 20 years at Historic Banning Mills, we’ve worked to not only preserve the incredible ecosystem of the Snake Creek Gorge, but we’ve also been able to educate guests about the natural and cultural history of Banning Mills. Ecotour guests get a unique and close up look at the undisturbed natural environment. We’re thrilled to give Alabama Parks’ guests the same unique experience.”
After Lake Guntersville’s first level of construction is complete, Banning Mills will begin construction at DeSoto, Cheaha and Wind Creek state parks this summer. At Lake Guntersville, the second level of the ecotourism construction will include six or seven additional ziplines, from 300 feet to 2,100 feet long, and two or three bridge and aerial obstacles. This second level will be 50 feet to 250 feet high, and will be categorized as an extreme adventure canopy tour because guests will be able to explore areas of the park inaccessible to tourists on foot. The final level will be a family friendly aerial adventure park that will have five or six adventure elements and three small ziplines for all ages.