Why Your Family Will Love Flying High at Vail’s Zip Adventures
The Adventure: In early-July, my two sons and I, along with one of their friends, headed up to Vail for a zipline tour with Zip Adventures.. We were looking for fun, adventure and a quick getaway. We were looking to scare ourselves, just a little, and enjoy a beautiful Colorado afternoon.
Zip Adventures was even more fun than we’d imagined. As we drove to the 4Eagle Ranch to check in, we passed landing and take off platforms and saw people zipping over the canyon. The older boys, who had both ziplined at a ropes course, quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be simple tower-to-tower flight. Instead, we would be flying 200 feet above a rugged river canyon. The excitement began to build.
After we met our guides, James and Oliver, the first order of business was gear. The staff quickly got each of us fitted with a climbing harness and helmet and we were off, loaded into a truck, headed back toward the canyon. When we arrived at the first platform, everyone looked a bit nervous until James and Oliver reassured us that we were wearing much more gear than we actually needed. So long as anyone of us didn’t weigh more than 5,000 pounds, there was no need to worry. That was the safety talk. As for “how-to” instruction, it went like this: once you’re strapped in, amble, run, jump or frolic off the platform and start flying!
We were in a group of 15, ranging in age from 6 to about 70. To a person, each of us held on tight to the harness strap as we cautiously walked off the first platform. Taking that first step was daunting, but once our feet left the ground and the delicious sensation of flight took hold, it was smiles all around. By the second line, many of us were jumping off backwards and frolicking, too.
Zip Adventures has six ziplines. These lines crisscross the canyon, meaning that guests basically fly from one take off point to the next. There is about ¾-mile of hiking during the tour, but you never double back and you return to the starting point via line number 6, which runs for 1,000 feet and has a top speed of about 40 m.p.h. This layout is pure brilliance, because the ziplines build on one another, growing in intensity as you grow in confidence, and each line is different from the others. There are even two lines where guests ride tandem.
At the end of our two and one-half hour tour, everyone was smiling, laughing and exhilarated. Our guides were outstanding. They provided information, good humor, water and snacks along the way. Best of all, as each of the three boys with me put, “It was a lot more fun, than scary!”
What: Zip Adventures provides guided ziplining on 6 lines across Alkali Canyon in central Colorado. Each tour takes approximately 2 hours, with check-in a half-hour prior to the tour time. The shortest zipline is 200 feet and the longest zipline is 1,000 feet long. Heights above the canyon bottom range from 350 feet to 600 feet.
Who: Zip Adventures can accommodate people weighing between 60 and 230 pounds. Ziplining is not recommended for those with a fear of heights, or heart, back, hip or knee problems, or for pregnant women. Participants need to be able to hike about ¾-mile on uneven and sometimes steep ground.
Where: Zip Adventures is located along Alkali Canyon off of Colorado Highway 131. To get there, drive 15 miles west of Vail and take the Wolcott exit off of I-70 for Highway 131 North. Follow 131 for three miles to 4Eagle Ranch where you will check in for your adventure. Restrooms and a snack bar are available at 4Eagle Ranch.
How: Ziplining costs $150 per person, which includes all safety gear, water and snacks. Book online at zipadventures.com. Cancellations are accepted up to 48 hours in advance for groups of less than 6. Please provide 72 hours notice to cancel a group of 6 or more. You can also contact Zip Adventures at 970-926-9470.
Stay: There is no shortage of lodging in the Vail Valley with options ranging from basic to luxurious. We stayed in a two bedroom condo in the Simba Run Vail Condominiums. These condos were probably built in the 1980s and are individually owned. The unit we rented was pristine and very comfortable. We entered the unit next to the master bedroom. A staircase headed one level down to the kitchen, living and dining room, a spacious balcony and the second bedroom and bathroom. It was great. The kids could stay up late watching TV and snacking, and we didn’t have to know about it. In addition, Simba Run has a lovely, large indoor pool and a big outdoor, in-ground hot tub with lounge chairs nearby.
Eat: We visited The Metropolitan in Beaver Creek for dinner. Beaver Creek’s newest restaurant, with tapas and a wine bar, we loved it. Seating is very casual. We found ourselves in a corner looking out into the village, sitting on comfortable sofas and funky ottomans. The food was delicious, and once the boys got into the idea of “small plates” and sharing, they really enjoyed the variety of dishes. Both the lobster and the pulled pork tacos were amazing, as were the balsamic chips gratin and the albondigas, or Spanish meatballs. Actually it was all delicious from the baby spinach salad to the petit strawberry shortcake. Prices per plate range from $5 to $12, with the charcuterie and tapas platters topping out in the $20s. We ended up ordering two rounds of food, which was also nice, because it allowed us to really relax and enjoy a long meal without the kids getting bored.
Kristen Lummis lives on the Western Slope where the powder meets the red rocks. While she is passionate about skiing, her true passion is for her family. She blogs at braveskimom.com