One of the increasingly popular family activities is zip lining, or the practiced art of falling off a high place while wearing a harness. And while I can promise you that it is both really thrilling and very safe, it is one of those activities where you really must do your homework before you set out.
What kind of homework? READ THOSE REVIEWS!
There is an unfortunately huge discrepancy in what constitutes zip lining. You can pay $30 a person to stand in a long line at a beachfront adventure park and ride down one cable, or you can make a day of it and zip through acre after acre of gorgeous forest land. You can pay a little bit of money to have a surly teenager whose summer job involves reminding you to tuck your feet before he shoves you off that one cable, or you can pay more to have a guided tour with two professionals who take you through a two-hour zip adventure.
See the difference? Both of those things are zip lining, but they present very different experiences.
While I’m all about being budget conscious–after all, that’s why we got into camping in the first place–this is one of those rare times you’ll really want to splurge and pay a more top-dollar price. It’s also not something you should do at an amusement park, at least not if you want a real family adventure.
So what do you look for when you’re searching for nearby zip lining options?
1. Knowledgeable staff who are trained in rescue techniques.
2. A worthwhile trip, as in getting to experience this for more than just one shove from a platform to ground.
3. Scenic beauty, since the fun of this is in being outdoors.
4. A location that requires a brief training session before you’re allowed to begin.
Simply having a sign out front that says, “All riders must wear closed-toe shoes,” isn’t safety precautions. When my husband and I decided to give it a try, we were required to take a twenty-minute training class and demonstrate that we could hold the required positions, stop ourselves, and even hand-over-hand self-rescue in case we got stuck.
Now for a review of a specific company, North Georgia Canopy Tours. After a lot of internet searching, this is the company we went with. How specific were we? Let’s just say it was an all-day trip in honor of our anniversary. We drove three hours each way to use this exact company, largely for the criteria I listed above.
We were not disappointed. While our overall assessment was that the cost and the effort involved in getting there means this is a one-time thing (meaning we probably wouldn’t make the drive to do it again, at least not soon), we did come away feeling that the money and effort were certainly worth it in terms of the fun we had and the complete safety we felt the entire time.
We signed up for the Adventure Tour, which costs a pretty penny but gives you THREE HOURS of guided zip lining and a repel out of the final platform: “The Adventure Tour includes two sky bridges, three nature walks, the fastest zips on the course, zips over three ponds, two zips over the North Oconee River, and a rappel. Race a partner on the thrilling finale – a 695-foot dual zip over the Hilltop Pond in front of the Observation Deck.”
Again, NOT a quick shove from a metal platform at a beach attraction! This is definitely the kind of activity where you’ll want your camera, so make sure (especially if you’re taking videos with your smartphone) that you have a way to secure it while you move.
However you decide to give it a try, remember to check out all of the safety requirements and reviews online first. Be sure to bring the right clothes and shoes, and give the company a call first if there are any specific issues with anyone in your family. Then, be sure to have fun and thank them with a review!