SkyLark Ridge celebrates 1-year anniversary at Binder Park Zoo

SkyLark Ridge at Binder Park opened in September of 2022

BATTLE CREEK – Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of their Charles & Lynn Zhang SkyLark Ridge outdoor aerial ropes course and zip line adventure.

According to Allie Stoddard, marketing manager for Binder Park Zoo, the response from visitors has been positive.

“It’s been great,” she said of guest feedback. “Guests have been overwhelmingly positive.”

Treetop tour of Binder Park Zoo

Designed, manufactured and installed by RCI Adventure Products, the three-story ropes course spans over 15,000 square feet and includes 40 elements. This Sky Trail® product features five of RCI’s Sky Rails®, totaling more than 400-feet. The course also features Little Larks, our Sky Tykes® course designed for young children.

Open toward the end of their 2022 season, Stoddard said that traffic on the course has steadily increased. Many zoo visitors have made return trips just for the course.

RCI Adventure Products has worked with zoos and aquariums all over the country, helping them to enhance the guest experience. RCI courses are built for the entire family to enjoy. The addition of an RCI course extends visitor stay times at the park. Stoddard estimates that visitors stay on SkyLark Ridge an average of 45 minutes.

Group Sales Opportunities

On the marketing side, SkyLark Ridge has given Binder Park Zoo something new to market around. Battle Creek hosts several youth sport tournaments, drawing in thousands of families annually to the area. Stoddard anticipates that the new course will help draw those type of groups, as well as others, to the zoo.

The project continued through the 2023 season with the construction of a new ropes course entrance plaza. As it currently stands, only visitors with paid admission to the zoo can experience SkyLark Ridge. Construction is underway to create a separate entrance, allowing guests the option to buy a ticket for just SkyLark Ridge.

In addition to opening the course up to the public separate from zoo admission, Stoddard talked about the flexibility the course may provide them with regard to operating time.

Binder Park Zoo traditionally opens on May 1 and closes in late October. Michigan weather, from November to April, isn’t necessarily conducive to many of their full-time residents, especially the African animal population. The ropes course gives Binder Park Zoo an opportunity to open earlier in the year while the zoo itself remains closed. Weather-permitting, Binder Park Zoo could open SkyLark Ridge in April.

Stoddard noted that the course can be operated with minimal staffing. Each staff member is required to go through training, which Stoddard also leads. Similar to visitor feedback, she said the response from employees has been very positive and they’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work on the course.

Binder Park Zoo is located in Battle Creek, MI and is currently open all week with standard operating hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The zoo features an African lion exhibit, an overlook to feed giraffes, American black bears, a snow leopard and, the only zoo in Michigan to have cheetahs.