Before you book your zip line adventure, make sure you know what you sign up for. Outfitters can build and operate a variety of zip lines based on topography, budget, and course design. Essentially, there are 3 types of zip lines: towered, canopy, and ground-to-ground. The “sport” of zip lining started with canopy tours in Costa Rica. Canopy tours mainly take place in a densely forested, jungle-type environment where zip lines are strung between large trees. Participants spend the entire tour on platforms secured high up in the trees while zipping from one elevated platform to the next, thereby being in the “canopy” of the forest. This provides a great way to be close to wildlife and natural surroundings but also presents some challenges to watch out for. Canopy tours are often located in tropical climates causing wear on equipment. Such countries often don’t have strictly enforced safety standards and may not report incidents or violations to authorities. Canopy tours can also be challenging to people that are afraid of heights especially because platforms are often small and poorly constructed. Lastly, canopy zip lines are typically shorter and slower because they depend on natural trees and because it is difficult to implement a robust braking system in this environment.
Towered zip line courses are more artificially constructed, suitable in areas where the topography is fairly flat. Towers are used to create enough elevation difference between the start and end point of each zip line to allow for enough speed to make it to the end. Here again, towered zip lines are typically shorter and slower due to challenges with the braking system and expense of building huge towered required to generate higher speeds.
Ground-to-ground zip line courses typically take advantage of the natural topography in areas like mountains, canyons, and valleys. Riders start on and depart from very low platforms or the ground. This setup allows for a more comfortable and gradual departure/arrival making it easier for people struggling
with heights or sudden drops. However, it is also more suited for longer and faster zip lines because it is easier to construct complex braking systems to slow riders down.
Here is what you should know: before booking, ask the right questions such as how long/fast are your zip lines, does the rider need to brake him/herself, what type of zip line is it, how many guides and riders on the tour, are you located in a nature park or scenic setting, and are they certified and inspected by a 3rd party? Also, check consumer review sites such as tripadvisor.com.
Here are the answers for Denver Zipline Tours: we operate the longest (almost 2,000ft) and fastest (up to 55mph) zip lines and Colorado. We are ground-to-ground zip line course located in a nature park in the Rocky Mountains only 30 minutes driving from Denver. Each tour has 3 guides and riders do not have to assist with the braking process. Braking is done by professional guides. Guides and all equipment are certified and inspected annually by ACCT-certified inspectors. We operate tours of up to 14 riders and we have a 5-star rating on
TripAdvisor and Yelp.