The Forge is located Just Outside Chicago Along the Historic I&M Canal

You wouldn’t expect to find outdoor adventure so close to a major metropolitan area, but The Forge, located in the southwest Chicago suburb of Lemont, delivers hair-raising thrills set against the backdrop of a reclaimed limestone quarry.

On a recent tour of the new 300-acre facility I was at a loss for words as to how to envelop the range of product they’ve introduced in such a short period of time. The park claims the tallest ropes course in North America and nearly 300 variations of climbing and ropes obstacles with ample staff to assist climbers, lend instruction and support where needed. The longest zipline in the Tri-State area whisks participants above a reclaimed limestone quarry as onlookers chill in the beer garden at one of six fire pit lounge areas, while kayaks and paddleboats offer recreation for those whose prefer their adventures on the water. A mountain biking course, laser tag and kids activity zone round out the daytime activities of this sprawling facility.

Lower Quarry Shelf

The Forge counterbalances adrenaline-pumping fun with relaxed waterfront outdoor dining and an outdoor amphitheater with room for 1,000 concert-goers. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy five miles of walking and biking trails and roam the park free of charge, as activities are pay-as-you-go. Outdoor space is conducive to team building and weekend yoga classes. With this variety of touch points, the park operator anticipates attendance of upwards of a half million visitors annually.

Who Should Go to the Forge?

The Forge is going to be a hit with serious climbers. As travel restrictions ease, it will become a destination for those passionate about the sport. There’s simply no rival this close to a major metro area. The park will also attract youth groups such as scouts and field trips who can participate in organized STEAM activities, and the recreational areas will appeal to active adults.

The developers were smart to key in on a location that’s both accessible and aesthetically beautiful. Situated off the Des Plaines River along the historic I&M Canal, this project is one a string of improvements the area has seen recently, which include the creation of the Cal Sag bike trail and revitalization of downtown Lemont shopping and dining. Also smart is the use of reclaimed cargo containers; they’re used for food service, check-in and equipment storage, among other things. This adds an industrial touch which blends in well with environment and the quarry’s history.

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