Monkey business in Byrd Park

Add swinging through the treetops to the list of activities Richmonders can enjoy at Byrd Park.

Go Ape, a U.K.-based firm, is working on plans with the city parks department to build a zip line and rope bridge course in a forested section of the park. This would be the company’s second U.S. location; its first is in Rockville, Md. The firm has 30 locations in the United Kingdom.

The company will build a cabin next to the dog park as its base of operations and ticket office. The city’s urban design commission approved the cabin design following a presentation Thursday morning by Chris Swallow, the company’s director of business development. The next step will be for the company to formerly submit its plans to the planning commission for approval.

Swallow said Richmond is an ideal location for their company to set up shop.

“We were getting a lot of visitors in Rockville from Richmond, so we expect to have the same kind of draw for this area as well,” Swallow said.

Below is a video of the Rockville course.


The course accommodates groups of 15 people every 30 minutes. Pricing for Richmond has not been set, but the Rockville location charges $55 for adults and $35 for children. The entire experience lasts two to three hours, Swallow said.

Swallow said they plan to open in March.

The company has been working closely with the city parks department, with which it will share a small percentage of the revenue, according to J.R. Pope, the city parks director.

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19 Comments on "Monkey business in Byrd Park"

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Now that looks like fun. My sons are the same age as the young men in the video and love this kind of stuff. I’ll have to drop some hints that I want to go too.


Lord help the old folks when local HR departments decide to use this for “team building exercises”.

Mr powers

do it when Im inpuerta vallarta or manuel antonio costa rica. What a great idea. If you are ever in Mexico…I really don’t like mexico ….they have the best zip line. Lines are over huge canyons, through dense rain forest and one is down the middle of a river.


$55! w. O. w. Not gonna have many takers at that price!!

Sounds “fun” in theory. However, the site mention is not in Byrd Park but rather part of Dogwood Dell and the Carillon Neighborhood. As a CCA board member, this is the first I’ve seen of this. It would seem that the city would want to get the neighborhood onboard before taking this to the press. A few questions immediately come to mind—where will these tree hangers park? Will the city provide additional services to clean up after them? How will this impact the neighbors especially those in Kanawa Trace? Will the extra traffic mean we need additional police patrol? Lots… Read more »

$55 for adults?!?! You might as well go to Kings Dominion for that price.


GIve it a rest Cindy. I am sure the neighborhood will be involved, and I know a lot more happy tax payers who would be happy to buy homes in that location based on the fact the city is trying to create positive activities for our parks.

Ben Dover

Perhaps this “monkey business” will drive the other “monkey business” that takes place in this part of the Park elsewhere. If not, I would hate to be the parent who has to explain to their child when they ask “Daddy, what are those two guys doing down there in the bamboo?” Perhaps the seedy visitors to this corner of the Park can find out where Seth lives, and take their “activities” to his backyard.


Cindy – come to the Planning Commission and find out more. All of your questions were answered in yesterday’s presentation and will be discussed again at the Planning Commission. And this is nowhere near the Carillon neighborhood or Kanawha Trace. It’s over by the toll plaza.


Great. All good to hear!


Waaaayyy too much $$$ for my pocket. Sounds like a lot of fun but $5-$10 max is all I could pay. Wonder if they are thinking about families e.g. 4x$55=$220!!!


I think it looks like great fun! Kudos to Planning and Parks and Rec for thinking out of the box! If they chose Richmond because there are Richmonders willing to travel to Rockville and then pay the cost for entrance then apparently it must be enough of a potential market for GOAPE to take the risk. I’m an old woman, but I will certainly look forward to checking it out — at least once!


I did this course in their location in Maryland and it was a ton of fun! I can’t wait they to set up here!


Sounds like fun. I’d give it a go. Would be cool for Richmond to be one of the first towns.

The issue isn’t whether a rope park is fun or not; nobody denies it is fun. One issue is that the city is leasing city park to a commercial enterprise in an ecologically green area that has trees, vegetation, rare birds and other wildlife. Leasing out city property leads down a slippery slope. And, no, Tom, it is not over by the toll plaza, nor is it “near the dog park” as city officials will tell you. It is right along Pump House Road between two historical monuments (Carillon and Pump House.) Go to http://rvanews/go-ape on October 7th to see… Read more »

I’m all for this – it sounds like the city is trying to think outside the box a little bit, make some money and bring something new to Richmond. What’s the slippery slope? We already have a restaurant in the park (Sally Bell’s). To me, this is a perfect activity in support of Mayor Jones’ initiatives and it will in fact make the city greener by providing us with a “green” activity to do. Yeah the city should have done a meeting earlier, but at least they’re doing one. i’ll be there with bells on.


Great Idea, would be good for Richmond.

This British invasion should be done on private property, and not in a public city park. It is a wonderful nature area now that my family frequently enjoys. We can’t afford to GoApe, and I don’t want to give up this city jewel just so a few rich out-of-towners can swing from our trees. Do this on private land, not public. How about putting this in the middle of Maymount Park or Forest Hill Park instead? Or are our city planners saving those for the next venture that offers to throw some change their way? This is our park. Please… Read more »
I support this for a few simple reasons…the proposed area that is being discussed has been a known area for several years where men ‘hook up’…as an avid MTB-er who rides through there often I can attest to the fact this is not a place I’d take my kids to ‘enjoy nature’ and happen upon a scene I’d rather not discuss (but have witnessed). Over the years, as MTB-ers have traveled the trails around RIC and especially Forest Hill Park, the amount of undesirable activities (such as the prostitution and drug dealing) has literally vanished b/c people are there and… Read more »