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North Shore Adventure Park to remain closed in 2018

North Shore Adventure Park in Silver Bay will remain closed in 2018 while an aerial ropes course is constructed on land behind the pictured rock wall, affectionately nicknamed "Eleanor" by visitors. (Photo courtesy Phil Huston)

North Shore Adventure Park announced last week it is closed for the season as it negotiates with partners to install a new aerial ropes course.

The attraction, at the corner of Outer Drive and Highway 61 in Silver Bay, opened last summer with the removal of the closed gas station and installation of the park’s first phase: an outdoor rock wall affectionately nicknamed “Eleanor.”

In a press release, owner Phil Huston said the 2017 season was a “test run” with a staff of 210 people. The reviews from visitors were overwhelmingly positive, but the park needed more amenities to become successful, he said.

Ropes courses like the one Huston hopes to install typically require an investment between $500,000 and $1 million. When completed, Huston plans to have 50-70 features on the course, including ziplines and various difficulties for beginners to more experienced users.

He also plans for the park to have cross-country skiing and fatbike trails.

“Next week, we have guys coming out to design the aerial course and that requires poles to be positioned in certain areas,” Huston said. “Once we have that design plan figured out, the other guys will come in and design these bike trails and stuff around that course.”

A feasibility study commissioned by Huston and conducted by Strategic Adventures of Littleton, Colo., estimated the park could eventually attract 20,000-30,000 visitors annually and a have staff of up to 20 employees by 2020 or 2021.

There are only about 12 companies in the country building the types of attractions planned; five have shown interest in working at North Shore Adventure Park.

For a park like his to be viable, as well as draw investors and reputable contractors, the site needs to attract a minimum of 20,000 visitors, according to Huston.

The park owns the corner lot at Outer Drive and Highway 61. The city of Silver Bay and the Minnesota Department of Transportation own the 6 acres of land adjacent to the corner lot where the ropes course and other amenities will be located.

Huston is negotiating the use of the land with the city and MnDOT in a development agreement he hopes to have signed by the end of the summer. Construction would begin in late August.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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