Q:

What Are the Best Zip Line Tours?

I want to go zip-lining—but in the wilderness, not in some amusement park. What are my best options in the U.S.?

Navitat Canopy Adventures zip line zip lining asheville north carolina outside outside online outside magazine

Getting ready to zip through North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.    Photo: Courtesy of Navitat Canopy Adventures

A:

Though wilderness zip line tours aren’t exactly new, they've only recently begun proliferating in the U.S.. Hundreds have sprouted up in the last decade, and many more are being built. You have many worthy choices, Brendan, but consider these first.

Though wilderness zip line tours aren't exactly new, they've only recently begun proliferating in the U.S.. Hundreds have sprouted up in the last decade, and many more are being built. You have many worthy choices, Brendan, but consider these first.


Navitat Canopy Adventures

Getting ready to leap   Photo: Courtesy of Navitat Canopy Adventures

This three-and-a-half-hour tour in Barnardsville, North Carolina, takes you high through the heart of the Blue Ridge, about a half-hour outside of Asheville. It consists of 10 lines, two bridges, and two rappels. Along the way, the guides will teach you about the surrounding habitat and local history.


Captain Zipline

Captain Zipline's zips in Salida, Colorado, are shorter than many others you'll find, but they're definitely among the most heart-pounding. Its seven lines, which run from 200 to 700 feet, hang above a deep canyon carved by the roaring Arkansas River near Salida. You'll go hurtling through the trees at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, past the ruins of old mining claims and fleeting views of 14,000-foot peaks.


Redwood Canopy Tours

Zip-lining in California   Photo: Courtesy of North Coast Adventure

It's a strange sensation to peer at giant redwoods from above, instead of below. This nearly three-hour tour sends you soaring seven to 10 stories above the ground through the misty Arcata Community Forest in California. It's operated by North Coast Adventure Centers, and is more hands-on and strenuous than most, at one point requiring a 25-foot tree climb through the branches of a redwood.


Arbortrek

Vermont bridge   Photo: Courtesy of Arbortrek

The Northeast's premier zip line adventure lies near the maple-covered slopes of Vermont's tallest peak. Arbortrek's eight lines vary in length from 150 to 1,000 feet, strung through the thick forests surrounding the Smuggler's Notch Ski resort. Some zips are hung as high as 75 feet in the air. Tours start at $65.


Zip Adventures

High up in Colorado   Photo: Stacey Sapp

You'll feel a little like Evel Knievel, minus the potential for broken bones, when you launch over the Alkali Creek Canyon in Wolcott, Colorado, about 20 minutes outside of Vail, during a Zip Adventures tour. A nearly 40-year-old Austrian military vehicle takes guests out to the six lines, which hang deep within the vast 4 Eagle Ranch. The zips vary in length from 200 to 1,000 feet and are essentially wide-open, accentuating their height and speed. Cost starts at $150 per person.

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