What You Need to Know About
Ziplines and Canopy Tours
by Wayne Berger
(Circleville, WV, USA)
An aerial view of the double-fin Tuscarora Quartzite fins of Nelson Rocks
The terms zip lines (wires) and canopy tour are heard and seen a lot these days. Just like many other words, the term canopy tour can mean different things depending on the situation and who is using them.
Zip lining originated simply as transportation in the Tyrolean Alps to get through the mountains in the late 18th century and has been used for its functionality for hundreds of years throughout the world.
The commercial canopy tours have just been introduced within the past 40 years, however, and have been growing rapidly ever since. They have recently been popping up all over the United States increasing from nine in 2005, to more than 80 in 2011.
What makes a canopy tour different from a zip line is that there are series of zip lines that typically travel from platform to platform positioned high in the forest canopy and may entail other adventures such as rappelling, aerial trekking, and other physical challenges.
Another concentration of canopy tours is ecology, which was the original goal of the first commercial canopy tour in Costa Rica. While on the tour, participants will build a greater appreciation for their natural surroundings and can learn about the eco-system.
The proper attire for this activity would be layers so you can make adjustments as you warm up and cool down because the temperature changes with altitude and shade.
In general, wear comfy, loose fitting clothing that does not restrict your movement and short shorts are not recommended. Also, long hair would need to be pulled back while on the tour. As far as footwear, sturdy athletic shoes or lightweight hiking boots/shoes are ideal, while sandals and Five Fingers are not.
The only things a zipper should bring along would be a small daypack with water and snacks, sunscreen, a camera (optional), and rain gear if necessary.
Something else to consider is the weight requirement of between 70-250 pounds, however there is no age limit! For each tour, there is often a maximum of guests (10 is generally a reasonable maximum number) per tour departure time, and it is a good idea to arrive at least 20 minutes before your scheduled time to prepare for the tour.
When you arrive you will first complete any necessary paperwork, you’ll meet the rest of the guests in your party and also meet your Canopy Tour Guides who will prepare and outfit you for a high-flying, Canopy Tour adventure!
It’s now time to get geared up. You will be properly fitted with a seat and chest harness and a helmet. Nelson Rocks safety gear will also include a double pulley trolley system for the zip lines and a Y-lanyard system for the platforms and bridges.
After you’ve been issued your gear, you’ll be taken to the start of the Canopy Tour. There may be a hike to the first platform and this is where a complete orientation is often given on how to zip safely from platform to platform.
You’ll probably start with a few shorter zips to get you used to equipment. Before long, the zips will increase in length and speed until you’re flying through the air!
Wayne Berger has a BS degree in Outdoor Recreation, a MS in Administration of Leisure Services and over 25 years of experience leading outdoor adventure activities. He is the Director of Operations at Nelson Rocks Outdoor Center and helped design and construct the North Fork Valley Canopy Tour.
Wayne has been recognized by numerous professionals in the field of adventure recreation for his dedication to adventure recreation and for his passion for program quality that leads to superior outcomes for the participants.
Nelson Rocks Outdoor Center (NROC) is located in the beautiful North Fork Valley of Pendleton County, West Virginia. For more information you can visit their Web site at www.nelsonrocks.org