On the lookout for adventure travel ideas? Consider Northern Lights Rock And Ice in Vermont’s beautiful Green Mountains. Northern Lights is a unique and exciting outdoor adventure facility. Activities include outdoor rock and ice climbing walls, dual 450 foot zip lines, multi-level ropes course and more. Northern Lights Rock And Ice seeks to empower individuals and groups through experiential learning. Whether you are an individual, family, or other community group, they provide an empowering experience that you will remember long after you leave.

Ropes Courses, Giant Swings and More at Northern Lights Rock and Ice, Essex VT

My daughter and I taking on the ropes course. Photo by: Jenn MItchell, Fitness TMOM

Taking on the Ropes Course

My daughter and I had the opportunity to take on the ropes course, giant swing, and climbing wall at Northern Lights Rock and Ice in beautiful Essex, Vermont. While my daughter is only 10, she is a ropes course veteran. We’ve traversed courses in Canada, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. While these courses were all fun, my daughter says Northern Lights Rock and Ice is her favorite.

Smiling at the top of the first climb. Photo by: Jenn Mitchell, Fitness TMOM

This is the first time we’ve taken on a ropes course without my husband. This made my daughter quite nervous. She feels safest between two parents. She likes her father to go first to help her. What is unique about Northern Lights Rock and Ice is that they provide a guide to take you through the entire course. We have never had this experience before. It was just PERFECT to minimize my daughter’s fears.

Ropes Course in Essex, VT

Jay was a fantastic guide! Photo by: Jenn Mitchell, Fitness TMOM

Fantastic Staff and Guides

Our guide, Jay, was incredible! He has a unique story of his own. He came from a troubled gang neighborhood in California. He worked hard to get away from that situation and happened to meet the owner of NLRI. She was so impressed by him that she hired him to be her facility director. He especially loves helping children conquer their fears and take on physical challenges. Other staff members we met were equally helpful and knowledgeable.

Northern Lights Rock and Ice aims to help people go just beyond their comfort zone and take risks. Pushing the boundaries of what you think is possible helps participants build confidence and trust. Jay’s motto is “Challenge by Choice.” He never forced us to take on a challenge that was too far out of our comfort zone, but he did recommend that we push ourselves a bit. My daughter really liked this approach. I love the way the company describes it on their website:


At Northern Lights Rock and Ice, seeks to develop and harness the human desire to climb, to go to places just beyond your comfort zone, to explore, to take risks, to push the boundaries of what you thought was possible as a means of growth in confidence, achievement, teamwork, trust and self discovery.

Ropes Courses, Giant Swings and More at Northern Lights Rock and Ice, Essex VT

After our successful ropes course completion. Photo by: Jenn Mitchell, Fitness TMOM

The Zip Line

Set 24 and 42 feet in the air, the High Ropes Courses allows individuals or groups to progress through challenges like a cargo net climb, balance beams, tight ropes, and more. The course completes with a dual 450 foot zip line for an incredible adrenaline rush! We were there on a hot day so we opted to be sprayed by water on the way down. Ahhh, so refreshing! We enjoyed it so much that we completed the course twice.

Ropes Courses, Giant Swings and More at Northern Lights Rock and Ice, Essex VT

Zip lining down to a refreshing water spray. Photo by: Jenn Mitchell, Fitness TMOM

Giant Swing

Another adrenaline pumping feature at Northern Lights Rock and Ice is the Giant Swing! Participants are clipped in and then pulled up to 40 feet in the air (you can choose how high you want to go). Then you pull the release and feel the free fall flying rush! This was my daughters FAVORITE thing. She wanted to do it over and over again. I loved it too!

Ropes Courses, Giant Swings and More at Northern Lights Rock and Ice, Essex VT

Winter Ropes Course: photo courtesy of Northern Lights Rock and Ice

Winter, Groups, Camps and More!

Northern Lights is open year round. Folks even take on the ropes course in the snow. In addition, they are one of the only venues in the nation that builds a 17,000 gallon frozen waterfall for ice-climbing that is open to the public. Whether you’re new to the sport or just looking for a controlled adventure, they have the wall and equipment for your ice climbing adventure. We’ll have to try this next time.

It’s such a great place for families to have fun bonding and playing together. Whatever your ability level is, they have something for everyone. There is even a great play set for little kids. For group members that may just like to watch, they have a great covered patio as well.

Ropes Courses, Giant Swings and More at Northern Lights Rock and Ice, Essex VT

Camp Group: Photo courtesy of Northern Lights Rock & Ice.

Northern Lights also hosts 3-5 day kids camps. They are filled with mutli-level rope challenge courses, leap and giant swing elements, climbing, games and initiatives, and zip lining. Campers build communication skills, trust and lasting memories while challenging themselves. Some camps include swimming at the indoor pool at the neighboring resort. They also offer a 20% discount for a second camper.

Northern Lights is also known for working with special needs groups. It is their goal to help people with special needs enjoy an active lifestyle.

Check out all of the other offerings on the Northern Lights Rock and Ice Recreation page. There are rock climbing walls, forest games, and other ground level challenges too!

If Vermont travel is in your plans, here are a few other ideas on what to do in the area.