I hate heights. I really hate heights. So why in the world am I perched on the edge of a sky-high platform, ready to step off into the abyss below? Because my family wants to try ziplining, that’s why. And though terrified, I don’t want to be left out. Ziplining’s the new thing to do, you know. I’m also at a little baby zipline at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Far better to start here than, say, in the Costa Rican rainforest.
My two daughters zipped ahead of me, laughing with glee. Now they’re standing on the second platform, mocking me because I can’t make my feet step off the platform. I’m trying, I really am. But my feet just aren’t listening. I hear one more jeer from the girls, and that does it. My feet suddenly become unstuck, and I leap off the platform.
I’m still scared, flying down the line stretched over Lost Canyon, which is barely a crease in the earth. But I’m having fun, too. I tumble onto the next platform less than gracefully, nearly crashing into my daughters. But with one zip under my belt, I’m feeling much more confidant. In fact, I’m almost looking forward to the next line.
In Your Bucket Because …
- When you’re in the Dells, you’ve gotta do everything.
- You’ve always wanted to try zipping.
- Good for adventurers and families
Dells Now Features Three Ziplines
The Wilderness Canyon Zip Line Tour opened in 2009. It was one of only a handful in the Midwest at the time, and the perfect addition for thrill-seeking Dells tourists. It features five cables that criss-cross the modest tree canopy over Lost Canyon, with the longest and fastest line propelling you up to 30 miles per hour.
Of course success typically breeds imitation in the Dells, and not too many months later Bigfoot Zipline opened down the road. Bigfoot expanded upon the Wilderness’ operation with six lines, some of which stretch over a portion of Lake Delton (aka Sasquatch Lake) and feature an island landing. Bigfoot’s final zip, a full 1,397 feet, is a double line so you can race a buddy.
Finally, there’s Vertical Illusions, located about 30 minutes from the Dells in Friendship. Billed as an eco-tour, zippers start off at the company’s Dells headquarters, then are driven to the private Chimney Rock Park. Once there you hike to the park’s summit around Chimney Rock — the Midwest’s tallest freestanding rock — where you’ll enjoy sweeping 100-mile vistas before zipping your way back down. Along the way you’ll be flying off cliffs and soaring over canyons as you zip from tree to tree.
Vertical Illusions’ lines vary in length from 150 to about 1,000 feet, and some are 120 feet above the ground. It’s also distinct from the other two operations in that you’re zipping from 200- to 400-year-old trees, not manmade towers. Plus at each tree station, your guides teach you about the park’s history, wildlife and endangered species.
Try All Three Ziplines
By the time our group reaches the fifth line, I’m totally confidant in my ziplining abilities, and having quite a lot of fun. Of course, the fifth line is the final line. Rats.
Back on terra firma, I talk like a big shot about our adventure. And realize that I’d better zip again soon, before I forget how much I like it.
- The Dells zipline adventures generally run several hours, with Vertical Illusions the longest. The cost is roughly $100; be prepared to tip your guide.
- The Wilderness’ zipline is best for beginners or people with a fear of heights, as it has the fewest and lowest lines.
- Each zipline has various restrictions ranging from weight requirements to whether or not you can carry your camera while you zip, so make sure to check ahead them out ahead of time.
- Always check the hours of operation ahead of time. As relatively new ventures, the businesses may still be tinkering with their hours, especially during the winter.
- Sometimes night zips are available.
- If you’re interested in an app guide to the Dells, check out the one I’ve written through SutroMedia. It’s available for Apple devices and Droids.