When you’re attached to a tree high up in the forest, there’s plenty of time for thinking. And right now, I’m thinking about how sweet it is that the five siblings who own this farm I’m teetering over — which turned 100 years old in 2012 — have banded together to save it in a sustainable way by building a zip-line course. As I careen through the treetops, the sun peeking through the branches, the thrill has a heartwarming tinge to it.
Of course, being out in nature always induces the warm fuzzies, and zip-lines have emerged as a high-adrenaline way to enjoy the environment, with many tour operators providing an overview of the flora and fauna you fly by on your journey. If constructed properly, courses have a low impact on the surroundings — and quite a high impact as far as memorable activities go.
Ready to sail through the trees, screaming with delight (and maybe just a speck of fear)? You can’t go wrong with these five zip-line courses:
1. Canopy Tours NW
Camano Island, Wash.
On quiet Camano Island north of Seattle, the aforementioned Kristoferson Farm hosts this gentle course, which wends its way through a sustainably managed forest with six zips, a log bridge and a 47-foot rappel to finish things off. Short walks through the forest offer a closer glimpse at the Pacific Northwest foliage.
2. Navitat Canopy Adventures
“We build in trees, we play in trees, we explore trees in fun and unique ways,” writes Navitat on their website. “And so, naturally, we believe we ought to care for them — deeply. And we do. The giants of the forest have extraordinary stories to tell, and we simply want to serve as interpreters.” Get a dose of forest facts along with your serving of adrenaline as you soar on 10 zip-lines up to 1,100 feet in length. There’s one guide for every four participants, so there’s plenty of opportunity to ask as many questions about the scenery and conservation as you’d like.
Cost: $89 to $99
3. Selvatura Park
Monteverde, Costa Rica
You can’t talk zip-lines without mentioning Costa Rica, the granddaddy of zipping as a recreational activity. The Monteverde cloud forest region is particularly known for its high-flying adventures; at Selvatura Park, you’ll experience 15 cables and 18 platforms in a three-hour tour. You may not be able to swing vine to vine like the monkeys, but the Tarzan swing at the end will make you feel like part of the forest.
4. Cypress Valley Canopy Tours
What might you see while zipping along this course in Texas Hill Country? In Cypress Valley, butterflies like the Pipevine Swallowtail flit around, while birds floating past could include the Carolina Chickadee, Belted Kingfisher (they have pretty fun hairdos) and Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. And you would have to be a little cuckoo not to take advantage of this beautiful course, which offers occasional night tours for an extra thrill. Pack a picnic and jump in the small lake afterward for a refreshing swim.
5. WildPlay Kelowna
In the Okanagan region of British Columbia, known for its outdoor activities, WildPlay Kelowna attracts the adventurous. Sure, there are zip-lines here and plenty of them, but that’s the relaxing part — choose the Monkido Classic course and you’ll be balancing on wobbly bridges, finding your footing on spinning logs and flying into cargo nets while hanging onto a rope swing, all at heights of 6 to 60 feet above the forest floor.