It’s exciting. It’s exhilarating. And, it’s not for everyone, at least not for the faint of heart. You are in for the ride of your life soaring through the trees of Snowmass during the Canopy Run Zipline Tour.
Seven ziplines, three sky bridges, and three rappels — connected by platforms in the trees themselves — keep your feet off the ground for three to four hours. Being prepared and knowing what to expect can make the tour that much more enjoyable.
- Make a reservation for the Canopy Tour – Call 800-525-6200 to book your reservation. Each tour can take up to six people.
- Check in at the ticket office at the base of the Elk Camp gondola – Here, you sign a waiver and pick up your gondola lift ticket.
- Wear long pants or leggings – Having your legs covered will make the straps of the harness more comfortable, besides it can get a little chilly in the forest at this elevation.
- Wear a lightweight rain jacket – Mountain weather can change in an instant. Wear a breathable light weight rain jacket, just in case.
- Wear closed-toed shoes.
- Bring water in a bottle with carabiner – You may get a little thirsty on the tour so bring a water bottle and a carabiner so that it can be hooked onto your harness. Your hands will need to be free when you are in action. Since there are no bathrooms on those high-rise platforms, go easy on your liquid intake!
- Bring a portable snack – If you think you may get a little hungry along the way, bring something very portable that you can slip into your pocket such as a snack bar.
- Use the restroom before you go – There are restrooms in the Lost Forest check-in area. Be sure to use the facilities before you start the tour. You won’t see another restroom until the end of the tour.
- Leave backpacks and extra items in the bin provided – Your harness needs to fit securely and your hands need to be free, so superfluous items will be stored in a bin that will be brought to your group at the end of the tour. You can wear baseball caps under your helmet and sunglasses are nice to have on when going fast.
- If you bring your phone, store it in a securely zipped pocket – Should you drop your phone along the way, the guides will not be able to retrieve it!
- Kids must be at least 70 lbs and 4’ tall and must be able to perform the skills as taught in Ground School (speed control, parking brake, pulling themselves along the line) to participate in the Canopy Run Zipline Tour. The Treeline Trial Challenge Course Ground School involves mastering different skills such as using a key system to move between elements and attaching a zipline trolley. The Challenge Course differs from the Canopy Tour in that it is a self-guided experience and the guides assist you from the ground as you make your way through the different elements.
- Arrive early – your scheduled tour time is the time the tour starts from Elk Camp. Please allow at least 20 minutes to board and ride the gondola. Groups arriving more than 5 minutes late for a tour will need to be rescheduled or their tour may be shortened.
- Leave necklaces and large jewelry at home – they can be uncomfortable under the harness.
A First-Hand Account of the Tour
A First-Hand Account of the Tour
Upon checking in at Lost Forest headquarters, our group of four was joined by two others — all of us live in the Roaring Fork Valley and are in our 50s and 60s. Only one of us had ever ziplined before. We were assigned two certified guides, Monty and Holly, who were professional, cordial, and thorough right from the start. They made it clear that they were there to make our journey safe and fun. The duo helped secure us into our harnesses and fit us with gloves and helmets.
Our guides lead us to a short, low zipline where they taught us the basics — how to slow ourselves down, the “parking brake,” understanding the guides’ hand signals, and more. Each person had a practice run. Our group of six became five when one member had difficulties grasping some of the techniques during ground school. The guides take safety seriously and want to make sure everyone has a good experience.
The tour introduced us to the elements of the course in small increments that are easier to accomplish. We then worked up to longer rappels and ziplines, building more confidence as we progressed. First, a sky bridge to a platform in a tree. “Just one foot in front of the other,” I told myself. Easy-peasy. Next was a short rappel to a lower platform. Holly talked each of us through it. “Nose before toes,” I reminded myself as I leaned back and removed my feet from the platform. “Well, that was fun,” I told my tour mates.
I was a bit nervous during the first two ziplines. It is important not to “grab” the zipline to slow yourself down. You are to push the top of the zipline with a flat gloved and leathered hand to slow your speed. “Flat hand, flat hand,” I reminded myself. I soon got it down.
The guide on the landing platform gave hand signals to indicate “slow down” or “keep coming.” There is a safety brake on the line prior to the platform, so I soon learned that I wouldn’t go flying into the tree it surrounded! The guide helped each of us onto the platform and quickly clipped us into a safety system. Heights don’t bother me, but for some, standing on the platform gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “tree hugger.’’
As I trusted myself, the system, and our competent guides, and the ziplines got longer, the tour became even more exhilarating. I liked being high in the trees spotting passing deer and taking in the wonderful smell of the forest. There are beautiful scenic views along the way, including the Ziegler Reservoir where mammoth used to roam.
The last zipline is ¼-mile long to a platform 90 feet above the ground. Zip speeds can get up to 45 miles per hour. “You got this,” I told myself. The ride was thrilling and I resisted belting out a Tarzan (or Jane) yell along the way. The last rappel to earth was unnerving for one woman in the group who is uncomfortable with heights. She opted to go first and Holly and Monty coached her off the platform to the ground. The rest of us pretty much sailed down. While it was reassuring to have my feet on solid ground, I was a bit disappointed to see the tour come to an end.
My “high” from the experience of the day lasted through the evening. The Canopy Run Zipline Tour was a blast!
Updated February 2020
SUSAN LINDEN Susan Linden has been wordsmithing as an advertising copywriter, feature writer, and storyteller since her college days. She left the whirlwind corporate world to live in the mountains and spends as much time as she can hiking, biking, and skiing in them. Working, playing, and raising a family in the Roaring Fork Valley for the last 29 years gives Susan a unique insider’s perspective to share.