Looking back on my high school years in Bethlehem, Pa., one of the most fun things we ever did was to pack up my father’s restored 1951 Army jeep with snorkeling gear and go quarry hopping. We’d pass an afternoon jumping off the 30-50 foot cliffs, and watch the braver souls jump of the higher ones. Crystal blue waters always meant great visibility for snorkeling.
In 1980, Stu Schooley bought one of these quarries and called it Dutch Springs. Scuba divers learned to dive there, and enjoyed exploring the sunken bus, boats and other vehicles. We’d snorkel there when we were willing to spend some money, and could see some of the submerged boats from a distance.
Today, Dutch Springs has evolved into a unique place where whole families can enjoy themselves. You can scuba dive and camp (tent and RV), and rent paddle boats and kayaks to explore the 50-acre man-made lake. But the most exciting and inviting additions are the Aqua Park and Sky Challenge, respectively a water-borne obstacle course and climbing zone. We visited the Aqua Park last Saturday afternoon, and found that although the lawn chairs along the perimeter were all claimed (like Verona Pool at 11:05 a.m. on a hot weekend), the park itself was not overly crowded.
Docks line the edges of the Aqua Park, allowing you to enter the 50-foot-deep waters from different angles, or to take a couple photos of the kids as they conquer the floating obstacles. Everyone must wear a life vest so even my 6 year old had no problem paddling from attraction to attraction. You and your kids will enjoy the inflatable “rides” like the Icebergs, which are like rock climbing walls from which you can slide or jump down the top. Our three boys and their two cousins spent around a half hour pushing each other off the Aqua Mat, and jumping off the sides. The biggest attraction is the Blob. Picture a giant yellow hot dog lying sideways in the water. The launchee (or victim) gets out on one end. The launcher climbs the tower part and jumps, which launches the victim up to 15 feet in the air as the other swimmers cheer in approval. If you still don’t understand the concept, the picture should explain it all.
While the park is a little pricey at $24 for adults on weekends and $15 for kids, it’s worth the 90-minute ride from Verona and the money. Included in the admission price is access to the Sky Challenge, which we did not try out. A snack bar serves pizza and hot sandwiches, snacks, ice cream, and more. There are bathroom facilities as well as a gift shop.
Here’s the catch: Dutch Springs Aqua Park is only open August 28 and 29 and then again for Labor Day weekend before it closes for the season. Next year, it opens on Memorial Day, just like the Verona Pool.[mappress]