MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

A zeal for zip lines

There's a boom in zooming over the tree tops.

The Lake Geneva Canopy Tours zipline.

© Lake Geneva Canopy Tours

Lake Geneva Canopy Tours includes eight lines.

It's a big rush, zipping over treetops.

You can ride over an Ontario canyon, dunes in Door County, a gorge near the Dells and a creek in Michigan.

Zip lines first made an appearance at environmental learning centers, alongside climbing towers and high-ropes courses.

If you want to try one, here's where to look. There's usually a weight restriction of between 230 and 275 pounds.

Wisconsin

Wilderness Canyon Zip Line Tour at Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells. This big resort across from Lake Delton, known for its indoor and outdoor water parks, has put five zip lines totaling nearly 2,500 feet over Lost Canyon.

The longest is 907 feet, the equivalent of 2 football fields, and the highest is more than 100 feet above the ground.

Riders must weigh between 70 and 270 pounds. The zip-line tours, which are guided, take about two hours. Cost is $65, $45 for resort guests. 800-867-9453, Ext. 4764.

Bigfoot Zipline Tours in the Wisconsin Dells. This course has six ziplines ranging from 462 feet to 1,397 feet. Four of them are over water.

It's in the same location as the Dells Army Ducks and Wild Thing Jet Boats, just north of Noah's Ark Waterpark on U.S. 12. The cost is $89 each, with tours scheduled to take 90 minutes.

Eco Zip Line Adventure, Wisconsin Dells/Friendship. From the Vertical Illusions shop in the Dells, guests are driven half an hour north to Chimney Rock Park near Friendship.

In winter, they snowshoe to the summit of a 500-foot-bluff, then descend on eight tree-to-tree zip lines, up to 120 feet above the ground. In summer, they can use 14 tree-to-tree lines.

Children as young as 4 can ride tandem with a guide. Cost is $120 per person.

Lake Geneva Canopy Tours in Lake Geneva. This 100-acre year-round adventure park on a reclaimed gravel pit just north of downtown includes eight ziplines between platforms in trees, five suspension bridges and a 1,150-foot racing zip line.

A full tour costs $85-$95, $75-$85 for ages 7-15.  Check for spring specials.

Rowleys Bay Resort zip lines near Ellison Bay. Door County Adventure Center operates a series of four short zip lines in the forest next to the resort on the Lake Michigan side of Door County. 

Tours cost $45 and take 1 hours.

Gravity Trails zipline in Door County.

© Door County Tourism

In Door County, the Gravity Trails zip line winds through forest.

Aerial Adventure Park at Trollhaugen Ski Area near Dresser. This alpine ski hill an hour northeast of the Twin Cities has six lines with four stations. Cost for a ride on the dual lines is $18, $30 for two.

A two-hour guided ride is $45, $39 for youths 6-17, and $10 for an extra ride.

Northwoods Zip Line in Minocqua. This canopy tour in the pines has nine lines. Cost for a 2-hour tour is $95.

Michigan

Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park in Mackinaw City. This state park near the Mackinac Straits includes the 425-foot Eagle's Flight Zipline, which soars over Mill Creek.

It's $7 for the Adventure Tour, which includes the zipline, the 165-foot-long, 50-foot-high Forest Canopy Bridge and the 40-foot Nature Trail Climbing Wall.

You also have to buy admission to the park, $8 for adults, $4.75 for youths 5-17. It includes living history programs and hiking trails.

The best deal, if you're also planning to see Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island and Colonial Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City (and you should), is the Mackinac Triple Choice Ticket. It's $23 for adults, $14 for youths, and includes all three parks.

Boyne Highlands Zip Line Adventure Tour near Harbor Springs. From the top of this ski-resort mountain on Lake Michigan, this guided 2- to 3-hour trip takes people on a series of eight lines traveling 3,250 feet. Reservations are required for the year-round tours, and cost is $64.

Zip line at Boyne Highlands.

© Boyne Highlands

Friends ride the Twin Zip Ride at Boyne Highlands in Michigan.

The Twin Zip Ride at Boyne Highlands allows people to race their friends on the last lines of the Adventure Tour, traveling 1,350 feet. Cost is $25 for two rides, which take 45 minutes to an hour, or $20 for one ride.

Boyne Mountain Zipline Adventure Tour in Boyne Falls. This guided 2- to 3-hour trip takes people on a series of 10 lines (nine in winter) traveling 4,300 feet. Reservations are required for the year-round tours, and cost is $64.

The Twin Zip Ride at Boyne Mountain allows people to race their friends on the last lines of the Adventure Tour, traveling 780 feet to the lawn of the Mountain Grand Lodge. Cost is $20 for two rides, which take 45 minutes to an hour.

Wildwood Rush Zip Line Canopy Tour near Boyne City. This tour includes views of Lake Charlevoix on more than 5,000 feet of lines. The full 2- to 3-hour guided canopy tour in hardwood forest is $75.

A trip down one of the 1,200-foot triple racing lines is $16, or three for $30.

Ontario

Eagle Canyon Adventures near Dorion, Ont. This private enterprise, 40 miles east of Thunder Bay next to Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park, has put in a 2,680-foot zip line that is Canada's longest.

It also has 600- and 300-foot-long suspension bridges, 152 and 125 feet above the canyon floor. Admission is $18 to walk the suspension bridges and $50 to ride the zip line. 

Minnesota

Timber Flyer in Duluth. From Spirit Mountain, its a 90-second  ride at up to 30mph down and then back up, $8 for one or $12 for two. You get to sit on a bench instead of in a harness, so it should be a lot more comfortable than a regular zip line.

Towering Pines Canopy Tour on the Gunflint Trail. A series of eight lines, one nearly 800 feet long, takes people through white pines near Gunflint Lodge Resort, an hour west of Grand Marais.

The tour costs $79 and can be taken by people who are 10 or older and weigh between 75 and 240 pounds.

Sand Creek Adventures in Jordan. Three lines have a total of 1,700 feet on this course on the southwest edge of the Twin Cities, along the Minnesota River.

Cost is $69. There's also a high-ropes course with a zip-line exit.

Kerfoot Canopy Tours in Henderson, Minn. Nine lines skim treetops in the Minnesota River Valley west of the Twin Cities. Cost is $89 for a 2-hour guided adventure.

The high ropes course at Eagle Bluff.

© Beth Gauper

At Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, a zip line brings people down from the high-ropes course.

Barnacle Blast Zip Line at the Mall of America. This new attraction calls itself the longest indoor zip line in North America. From platforms 70 feet above the floor, riders fly along a 405-foot line over Nickelodeon Universe and then back.

Cost is $7.99 per ride, or $10.99 including the ropes course and slides of the Dutchman's Deck attractions.

Iowa

Sky Tours Zipline near Dubuque. Not far from the Mississippi River, YMCA Union Park Camp operates nine zip lines of 300 to 1,000 feet and heights of up to 75 feet.

Guided two-hour tours cost $65-$72, and night flights are $79.

Illinois

Soaring Eagle Zip Line near Galena. The 800-foot line at Chestnut Mountain ski resort carries one or two people in a chair. Cost is $15, $25 for two.

Zip lines on high-ropes courses

Many environmental learning centers have ropes courses that end in zip lines. The zip lines are shorter, but they also cost less.

Treetop Adventures near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. This eco-adventure was started in 2008 by Murray and Cindy Joseph on a family homestead in Goulais River, 20 miles north of Sault Ste. Marie on the TransCanada Highway.

There's a 400-foot zip line as well as a ropes course and ground games that include a "Survivor''-style obstacle course, paintball, Fuzeball, and a compass scavenger hunt. It's open year-round.

Cost for the zip line is $20, with each additional ride $5. With the aerial climbing course, it's $39, and an hour of ground games is $12.

Character Challenge Course near Park Rapids, Minn. This ropes course, seven miles north of town next to Eagle Beach Resort, includes a 370-foot zip line. Cost is $25, $20 for children 15 and under.

There's also a 3G Swing from a 27-foot platform, $15 for the first ride, $8 for a second ride. Height minimum is 4 feet, and weight maximum is 250 pounds.

Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center near Lanesboro, Minn. This center on the bluff above the Root River has a scenic ropes course that is open to the public at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays from June through August and occasionally throughout the year.

Reserve in advance to make sure you'll have a spot. Cost is $25.

Audubon Center of the North Woods near Sandstone, Minn. This lakeside center has a ropes course and zip line, and it's free to try the zip line during the environmental center's fall open house. 


Last updated on June 21, 2017