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Zip line Canopy Tour FAQs

What is a zip line canopy tour?

Zip Line: An inclined and elevated cable or rope from which a person attached to a pulley can travel from one anchor point to another by means of gravity. 

Canopy Tour: An ecological tour designed to provide users access to the forest canopy for purposes of environmental education and often recreation.  Routes through the forest canopy are generally comprised of a series of interconnected zip lines, suspension bridges, aerial walkways, and observation platforms.  Tours may also include challenge elements, rappels, swings, ropes ascent or descent elements, staircases, and towers.

How are ArborTrek courses unique?

ArborTrek Canopy Adventure courses are designed for exploration, education, and recreation.  They include a series of interconnected zip lines, sky bridges, and occasional challenge elements.  Guests and guides move through the course as a group.  Dawning safety equipment drawn from the climbing industry, industrial fall protection, rescue, and items specific to zip lines; guests proceed through the tour connected to an overhead belay and anchoring system.  Guides manage equipment transfers and guests are connected to a safety system at all points on the course that are off the ground.

Each ArborTrek tour is unique.  Courses are designed to work with the environment and not against it, and to take in to consideration a progression that educates users both on the local area as well as trains them in necessary technique be it climbing, zip lining, or rappelling.  Through an intensive design process including topographic surveys, consultation with local foresters, wild life experts, and engineers, we work to achieve a course that introduces guests to the environment with limited impact to the area.  It is our goal to remain visitors to the environment and to be good stewards for each area we enter.

Our courses are a balance of engineering, natural beauty, and environmental consciousness.  But it is our guides we take the most pride in.  We work hard to train and develop the best guides in the industry.  In addition to extensive training in risk management, rescue, and first aid, each guide receives training in ecology, geography, and local history.

Where did canopy tours come from?

Canopy Tours in the western hemisphere were originally an outgrowth of techniques developed by biologists seeking to study the ecosystems of the Tropical Rainforest. Using a variety of approaches to access the upper reaches of the forest while minimizing their impact upon its ecology, researchers began about 35 years ago to observe and catalog the animals and plants that flourished there and to study their complex interrelationships.

Observation posts and transportation routes through the canopy were established by several means, including Tyrolean traverses and zip lines, rope ascension devices, towers and cranes, suspension bridges, and even hot air balloons. Each of these methods pioneered by scientists continue to be employed in one or another of the many commercial Canopy Tours that have grown up to serve and promote eco-tourism in the Rainforest. Some operators have gone one step further and installed aerial tramways complete with enclosed gondolas.

While many tours are quite serious about their mission of promoting awareness and appreciation of forest canopy ecology, many others now operate primarily as vehicles for recreation and amusement: the thrill of the ride is the principal attraction.

The commercial craze for canopy tours was heavily fueled by the growth of eco-tourism in Costa Rica in the 1990’s.  It was not until 2003 that the first canopy tour was established in the United States.  Beginning in 2005, expansion of the industry exploded and has continued through today.

Advances in technology accompanied by creative expression has issued way for a variety of new course types ranging from pure amusement to highly educational.  Some courses are intended for athletes, others for the general public.  Expansion of the concept is moving from the forest to other unique areas including: amusement parks, historic sites, desertscapes, and most recently, the cities and urban areas.

For more information on the growth of the zip line canopy tour industry, we urge users to take a look at Zipline Nirvana

Latest News

New Aerial Adventure Park to Open at Fall Creek Falls State Park

Pikeville, Tennessee – ArborTrek Canopy Adventures has teamed up with The Adventure Guild, LLC, a Tennessee-based adventure park builder/operator, to develop an aerial adventure park at Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee's largest and most visited state park. The 2.5-hour, self-guided tour con...

ArborTrek President Elected to Board of Directors of ACCT

Michael Smith, President of ArborTrek Canopy Adventures, LLC, was elected to the Board of Directors of the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), the leading standards author and professional trade association for the canopy/zipline and aerial adventure park market.   Founded in 1...

ArborTrek to Open Two New Eco-Adventures in Smugglers' Notch

ArborTrek Canopy Adventures at Smugglers' Notch, Vermont is expanding its services in the spring and summer of 2013.  In addition to the established Zip Line Canopy Tour, which was named one of the "World's Coolest Zip Lines" by Travel + Leisure magazine and one of the best wilderness zip lin...

ArborTrek Smugglers' Notch Featured on Vermont Public Television Outdoor Journal

Gina Bullard of WCAX joined us in the trees last October for a zip line canopy tour through Vermont's fall foliage.  While the zip line canopy tour is open year-round to guests at Smugglers' Notch Resort, locals, and visitors to the region, there is perhaps no better time to go zip lining in th...
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