Sonoma's ropes course still open at Sonoma Developmental Center

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For those looking for a unique way to spend a day in wine country, the Challenge Adventure Ropes Course on the flanks of Sonoma Mountain might be the ticket.

Set in the shade of old growth redwoods, the course is composed of a series of challenges that range from cooperative games to a heart-pounding zip line anchored 60 feet up.

Run by Diana and Roger Rhoten, the ropes course has been a community staple for decades. Business retreats, sports teams, schools and families have all braved its challenges. Hundreds of schoolchildren have tackled its obstacles, in the hopes of gaining confidence and determination with each hurdle.

Starting in February and planned through July, the ropes course is welcoming individuals to enjoy “open days.” Currently, there are seven days on the course calendar, with the potential for more access available as the need dictates.

The ropes course is located on what was formerly the campus of the Sonoma Developmental Center, which closed Dec. 31. The SDC closure has made the fate of the ropes course uncertain, but the Rhotens are hoping to come to an agreement with state officials to keep the course open. While the dust settles in the next few months following the developmental center’s closure, the Challenge Adventure Ropes Course will carry on.

This week, the Rhotens issued an invitation to “families, friends, birthday girls and boys as well as intrepid individuals” to “come fly with us!”

The day-long experience is $75, and includes ground-level cooperative games, “low-challenge” course activities, and “high-challenge” course events like the Vertical Playpen and the Burma Bridge, both accessed from towering extension ladders leading to narrow platforms high in the redwood tree canopy.

Just getting to the starting point requires force of will, and completing each challenge is cause for triumph.

The first “open day” is scheduled for President’s Day, Monday, Feb.18. Subsequent dates are Feb. 24, March 16, April 20, May 12, June 1, and July 6. Reservations are made through the website:

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