Princeville Ranch Adventures’ Zip n’ Dip Expedition
Born in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, modern zip-line canopy tours let adventure seekers traverse high-flying cables through some of the world’s most scenic wildernesses. And while these ripping rides have persisted as adventure-travel staples in tropical hot spots for nearly two decades, zip-line tours have recently spread beyond the jungles and taken root stateside in a big way.
Canopy-tour consultant Michael Smith, president of the AdventureSmith consulting firm and owner of ZiplineNirvana.com
, estimates that in the last year and a half alone, at least 60 commercial courses have opened across the United States, strung through forest, desert and even urban backdrops.
Today, travelers in the U.S. can join guided treetop nature tours ranging from the California redwoods to the Florida wetlands; scream along the cables at upwards of 65 mph on steep, near-free-fall speed lines; and even soar high through the neon jungle of Las Vegas. Take flight with one of these operators:
Bootleg Canyon Flightlines
Boulder City, Nev., 20 miles from the Vegas Strip: Soar up to 50 mph over the sun-painted desert and rock formations of Bootleg Canyon, with views of Lake Mead in the distance. The longest of the tour’s four lines stretches nearly half a mile. $149, www.bcflightlines.com
. Bonus: A sister location features an 824-foot line down the middle of Vegas’ Fremont Street. $15 to $20, www.fremontstreetflightline.com
Screaming Eagle ZIP LINE Canopy Tours, at Historic Banning Mills
Whitesburg, Ga., 40 miles southwest of Atlanta: One of the first canopy-tour operators in the U.S., this nonprofit eco-lodge boasts the largest continuous course in the world. It offers a wide variety of tours that zigzag for more than 5 miles across the Snake Creek Gorge on 32 zip lines, 79 viewing platforms and tree houses, and 40 sky bridges. $49 to $149,
Princeville Ranch Adventures
Kauai, Hawaii, east of Hanalei Bay: Skirt the jungle treetops on the Garden Isle’s lush north coast. The 4.5-hour Zip n’ Dip Expedition includes nine zip lines, a suspension bridge, a one-mile hike with sweeping views and a picnic lunch at a secluded swimming hole. $145, www.adventureskauai.com
North Coast Adventure Centers
Arcata, Calif., 280 miles north of San Francisco: Explore the world’s tallest trees from a height of 70 to 120 feet in Arcata’s Redwood Park, in Humboldt County. The knowledgeable guides at this outdoor-adventure co-op teach participants how to clip and unclip each other to the lines before they zip through the canopy. $75, www.northcoastadventurecenters.com
Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida
St. Cloud, Fla., 50 miles southeast of Orlando: Glide over gator-filled wetlands, palmettos and pine forests on a wildlife safari that crosses seven zip lines, two sky bridges and nine observation platforms. Ask about upcoming dates for the enchanting “starlight” nighttime rides. $85, www.floridaecosafaris.com