The idea for one of Indiana’s most unique destinations was born on the Caribbean island of St. Martin.
“My wife took me ziplining for my 50th birthday, and I just fell in love with it,” says Patrick Noonan. “We knew we could do this, and do it well.”
And thus was born Dagaz Acres Leadership Center and Zipline Adventure Course in Rising Sun, Indiana. Noonan and his wife, Lori, opened the facility in 2008 as a place where nature nurtures the best in people.
Seven state-of-the-art dual ziplines span 23 acres of rugged hills and forest at Indiana’s only course certified by the Association for Challenge Course Technology. Founded on the belief that people learn better when they’re having fun, the 85-acre facility also includes ropes challenge courses and miles of hiking trails.
“We want to get people out of their element, where it’s easier to change your attitude,” says Patrick Noonan, a business consultant trained in experiential learning.
The thrills you’ll find here are real – some ziplines reach heights of 70 feet. But Dagaz Acres offers far more than an adrenaline rush. True to its name, an ancient rune that means “transformational breakthrough change,” Dagaz Acres helps people see themselves and others in a new light. That shift is often particularly noticeable in families.
“Often, the kids can’t believe that mom or dad can do what they are doing,” says Lori Noonan, who has a background in corporate recruiting and consulting. “When they see them face their fear and overcome it, it totally changes the dynamics of the relationship.”
As one ziplining mom told the Noonans, “Thanks for making me a hero for a day.”
The facility caters to a wide variety of groups, ranging from students and scouts to families, businesses and beyond. As a public service, the Noonans work with schools and nonprofit groups at discounted rates.
Creative exercises are designed to improve communication, trust and teamwork by requiring group members to navigate challenges together to reach their goal.
“We customize the experience depending on what the group is looking for,” Lori Noonan explains. “There’s usually a reason a group comes here, and we discuss that up front.”
For younger students, customized nature hikes are available that incorporate math or science lessons. The Noonans hope the children exploring their forests today will become the environmental stewards of tomorrow.
“We wondered who would protect the woodlands when we can’t do it anymore,” Lori Noonan says. “We want young people to see nature’s value and take care of what we have.”
The land that makes up Dagaz Acres was once a cattle farm. The Noonans purchased the site in 2005 and spent two years sprucing it up and creating an extensive trail system.
Along with thousands of human visitors every year, the Noonans share the land with an abundance of wildlife, including turkey, deer, fox, raccoon, coyote and quail. Their efforts to grow and protect indigenous plants and wildlife habitats have earned the property the Classified Forest and Wildlands designation from the Indiana Forestry Division.
“I grew up in an era when we didn’t sit in front of the TV and play video games. We were outside all the time,” Patrick Noonan says. “It’s important for people to get out and understand what nature is about and how important trees are. That’s what we’re about.”
To learn more about Dagaz Acres, visit www.dagazacres.com or call (812) 594-2727.