Tourism News Briefs

Staff Reports

Hocking Hills State Park opens pristine new hiking trails

Region’s trails attract visitors from around the globe

Logan – Two new trails just opened in Ohio’s Hocking Hills State Park, adding even more reason for visitors to explore this spectacular natural destination. These newly accessible areas of the park include Whispering Cave which, due to its unusual acoustics, allows a visitor who whispers at one end of this huge cave to be heard clearly by another hiker who stands 275 feet away at Whispering Cave’s other end.

Hemlock Bridge Trail also just opened, connecting to both the Grandma Gatewood (Buckeye) Trail and Cedar Falls. Hemlock Bridge Trail features the park’s first-ever swinging bridge, which carries hikers over Old Man’s Creek at its confluence with Queer Creek, so-named because its water flows in a different direction than expected.

“Now that travelers can access both Whispering Cave and Hemlock Bridge Trail, they have two more beautiful reasons to visit the Hocking Hills,” said Hocking Hills Tourism Association Executive Director Karen Raymore. “Add these to the region’s many active experiences, such as rappelling, kayaking, canopy tours, eco tours, horseback riding, antiquing and other activities, and our visitors typically find they need to extend their stay in order to get it all in.”

Raymore added that access to Hocking Hills State Park’s many natural wonders – including parking – remain free, as Ohio State Parks are among only a few remaining state park systems in the U.S. that do not charge visitors.

Raymore also pointed to the area’s quirky stops like tours of Columbus Washboard Company, the last remaining washboard factory in America, and the Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum as additional attractions that intrigue travelers heading to the Hocking Hills.

Details on the new attractions are easily accessed on the Explore Hocking Hills website, where travelers can plan your trip full of unforgettable excursions, including hiking the region’s miles of wooded trails that take them past breathtaking waterfalls, caves and rock formations.

Located 40 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio, Hocking Hills offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences that make every day feel like Saturday, with plenty of Admission: FREE activities. The region boasts a wide variety of affordable lodging, from camping, cabins and cottages to hotels and inns. In addition to hiking trails, parks and forests, the Hocking Hills is the Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest, with 55 ziplines being offered via three distinct guide services. Unique gift and antique shops, canoeing, horseback riding, golf, spas and more add to the allure of the

Hocking Hills as the perfect place to unplug. Complete traveler information is available at or 1-800-Hocking (800-462-5464).

New Hocking Hills attraction puts visitors in the driver’s seat of real, full-size construction equipment

LAURELVILLE, OH – Hocking Hills Sandbox just opened to rave reviews in southeast Ohio’s popular Hocking Hills tourism region. The Sandbox allows travelers to operate professional-grade construction equipment, including track loaders, a bulldozer and excavators. In addition, a real cherry picker lifts visitors 60 feet in the air for a birds-eye view of the 15-acre facility. Located at 16412 Thompson Ridge Rd., Laurelville, OH 14135, Hocking Hills Sandbox is one of only six such attractions in the U.S.

Described as a mammoth playground for adults and kids age 14 and over, the 6,000-square-foot welcome center also offers meeting space for up to 150 corporate team building or special event guests and includes a video theater where participants are shown a brief safety video before heading to the course. Supervised children under age 14 are welcome to watch as another parent or older family members drive the equipment. The on-site gift shop features toy trucks for kids to take home. Pricing varies based on the package selected, but most experiences start at $100.

Once outside, visitors watch a live demonstration and are given a hands-on introduction to the course and each truck’s controls. They’re then invited to climb aboard these massive machines, while guided by a trained instructor with a remote kill switch. Each piece of full-size construction equipment has its own lane, games and challenges, including:

The Excavator: Visitors start by digging a massive hole and piling the earth into a mound, then driving over the hill they’ve created. They can also disassemble, move and reassemble a series of eight railroad ties stacked in a crisscross pattern, much like a giant game of Jenga. Finally, excavator drivers can try to “thread the needle,” by dropping a huge semi tire over a 9-foot pole or pick up basketballs and try to make a bucket.

The Bulldozer: While on the bulldozer, guests get to dig a massive pit, then crawl out over pile they created before completing an agility-testing obstacle course. The highlight is ramming into the junked minivan, pushing it around the course for a hands-on demonstration of the power of these machines.

The Track Loader: Guests head through a challenging obstacle course of cones and stanchions, then can try picking up a 12-foot log and moving it along the course without knocking over a series of barricades. A giant pile of ground asphalt is ideal for digging and moving around, while stacking log chunks test the operator’s skill and balance.

The Cherry Picker: The cherry picker offers great views and a fun backdrop for selfies as it hoists visitors 50-60 feet above Hocking Hills Sandbox.

Now Open at Kalahari: Five New Slides

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Debuts Five Heart-Pounding Slides in Outdoor Waterpark

Sandusky location is only place in the US to experience this combination of outdoor waterpark thrills

Sandusky, Ohio (May 25, 2017) – Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is excited to announce the largest expansion of its outdoor waterpark to date. Now open, five brand-new slides offer new heart-pounding options for guests this summer. Kalahari Resorts and Conventions’ Sandusky property is the only place in the United States that thrill-seekers can experience all five slides in one location.

“Kalahari has been synonymous with the Sandusky area for more than a decade” said Todd Nelson, owner, Kalahari Resorts. “We are continuously looking to provide our guests with an unparalleled experience with the expansion to our outdoor waterpark – each new thrill holds a new African adventure.”

Now open, the multi-million dollar, five-slide expansion includes:

• Stingray: This raft slide builds anticipation with an exciting serpentine in-run before the raft suddenly drops into a 45-degree tunnel. The ride then gains serious speed before entering a five-story funnel.

• Sahara Sidewinder: For thrill-seekers, this slide creates a “drop-and-dive” sensation as riders fly through steeply-angled saucers.

• Tornado Alley: Riders will experience two high-energy funnels throughout the course of the slide – as well as a sudden 24-ft. drop, which allows for high-banking swings and zero-gravity moments.

• Serengeti Spinner: This high-speed, enclosed body slide features back-to-back curves and tight 360 degree loops.

• Extreme Rush: Riders stand in a transparent pod high above the waterpark before the floor drops in the near-vertical chute launching riders into the tight 360 slide at a fast speed.

In addition to the outdoor waterpark, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Sandusky, Ohio is home to the Largest Indoor Waterpark in the Midwest and one of the largest arcades in Ohio (20,000 sq. ft.), which includes Savannah Strike Mini Bowling alley and Madagascar Black Light Mini Golf.

Spa Kalahari and Salon also features the in-demand Halotherapy treatment – the salt therapy service provides an immune system boost and helps neutralize charged toxins in the body. This is one of only two Halotherapy rooms in the state of Ohio.

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is the ultimate place for a summer family getaway – with something for everyone, all-under-one-roof. For more information about the new slide expansion or to book your stay, please

About Kalahari Resorts and Conventions

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, Sandusky, Ohio, the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, and coming soon to Round Rock, Texas, delivers a “world-away” waterpark resort and conference experience beyond expectations. The authentically African-themed Kalahari Resorts, privately owned by the Nelson family, is home to America’s largest indoor waterparks. All Kalahari Resorts feature well-appointed guest rooms, full-service Spa Kalahari, a fully equipped fitness center, on-site restaurants, unique retail shops and a state-of-the-art conference center. Kalahari Resorts and Conventions frequently receives awards and accolades for its guest and convention services. Recent recognition includes: Condé Nast Traveler’s #1 World’s Coolest Indoor Waterparks, TripAdvisors’ 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards, 2016 Family Vacation Critic Favorite, TripAdvisors’ 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards, 2015 Reader’s Choice USA Today’s 10 Best Indoor Waterparks, January 2015 OpenTable’s Diners’ Choice Award for Double Cut Grill’s signature dining experience for the second consecutive year, Silver Star recognition for Best Family-Friendly Meeting Hotel and Resort in Smart Meeting’s 2014 Smart Stars Awards, Clean the World’s Top 50 Hot Properties in 2013, the Daily Herald’s 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Indoor Waterpark, selection as one of the nation’s Top Family Resorts by Family Fun magazine for 2013, being named the Best Conference Center in the state by the Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association and selection as the Corporate Meeting Destination of the Year by Cleveland Business Connects magazine. For reservation and guest information, call 1-877-KALAHARI (525-2427) or visit To learn more about Kalahari Resorts, members of the media are encouraged to visit

Staff Reports