Equal parts adrenaline rush and eco-tour, adding a zip line experience into your vacation itinerary can satisfy the adventure quotient for every member of the family.
Here are six locations to consider:
1. Captain Zipline. Salida, CO. Open year-round since 2005, this was the third zip line to debut in the United States. Owner Monty Holmes, who hopes to someday open the first permanent urban zip line, says his guests have as much fun learning about the area’s rich history and joking with the guides as they do on their thrill-filled ride. The zip line tours range from 200 to 700 feet in length and offer the beauty of snow-capped fourteeners and the Arkansas River as backdrop. Children six to twelve ride with a guide. Contact: 1-877-947-5463; www.CaptainZipline.com.
3. Skyline Eco-Adventures. Maui, Hawaii. The fun begins when you join your guides in an outdoor vehicle and travel to the West Maui Mountains. Gear up and cruise through the pristine environment via eight different zip lines. Catch Pacific Ocean views in the distance and mountain streams, waterfalls and lush valleys below. The company opened the country’s first zip line here in 2002 and now operates two zip line adventures in Maui and one in Pigeon Forge, TN. Riders must be 10 years or older and weigh between 80 and 260 lbs. Contact: 808-878-8400; www.zipline.com.
4. Cypress Valley Canopy Tours. Spicewood, TXMeander through a cypress-lined ravine via sky bridges and zip-lines, 40 feet in the air and up to 350 feet long. Three different tours offer a range of options for varying degrees of challenge and interest. The Canopy Tour is the most family-friendly, while the Canopy Challenge includes faster and longer rides and pathways requiring more balance and agility. Bird enthusiasts will find the Sunrise Birding Tour, led by a wildlife biologist, of particular interest. Riders must be 10 years old and weigh between 70 and 250 lbs. Young people ages 10 to 17, must be accompanied by an adult. Contact: 512-264-8880; http://cypressvalleycanopytours.com
5. Zip lines at Sea. You won’t be cruising through tree branches or canyon walls. Rather, rig up for this raucous ride and you’ll sail through the salty air, suspended amid nine decks of Royal Caribbean cruise cabins. Mega-craft Oasis of the Seas, introduced last year, was the first cruise ship to incorporate a zip line into the family fun zone. Sister-ship, Allure of the Seas, which debuts over the Thanksgiving holiday, will also sport the high-rise ride. Families can also look forward to the DreamWorks Experience, featuring special character breakfasts for kids, delivered by the folks who created Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda. Contact: (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN; www.RCCL.com
6. Palau, Micronesia. Famous as a premier destination for underwater thrills, Palau now boasts a new sky adventure. A three-course zip-line now soars over the Taki Waterfall Park in the State of Ngardmau. Unlike scuba-diving which requires certification, zip lining requires only a willingness to unleash a desire for an adrenaline rush manifested as the guest is s whisked along a cable, 250 feet from the ground, from one platform to another. The length of each course is between 300 meters and 340 meters and is said to be one of the longest in the world. Located in the westernmost corner of Micronesia, Palau is an archipelago of more than 586 islands with about 20,000 inhabitants. Consistently ranked as one of the world's best dive destinations, Palau is the ultimate paradise for the adventurous traveler, boasting some of the most spectacular water features and beaches as well as the world famous Rock Islands and Jellyfish Lake. With 1,450 species of fish and 500 species of coral, some have called Palau the "8th Natural Wonder of the World", while others have identified Palau as "One of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World." Contact: www.visit-palau.com.