Family-friendly extreme sports have become increasingly popular over the past decade. Due to higher safety standards, attractions like indoor bungee jumping are no longer seen as pure insanity. For example, my relatives and I, ranging in age from two to nearly eighty years old, recently went cliff jumping. My grandmother cannonballed. It was spectacular.
Now is the time in Texas to enjoy the outdoors, and whether you’re looking for an adventurous date (studies have shown that couples who try new things together tend to be the happiest!), curious about which member of the family is the most afraid of heights, or simply looking to live out a lifelong fantasy of flying, zip lining could be for you. Strap in and hold on tight—below is a list of different zip-lining venues around the state that make for a truly memorable day trip.
In the Hill Country Trees
Recreational zip lining was developed in Costa Rica in the seventies, when naturalists employed a ropes system so that they could study all levels of the rainforest without fear of damaging any life on the ground or in the branches. After visiting Costa Rica and experiencing this footprint-free way of exploring the forest, the founders of Cypress Valley Canopy Tours were inspired to create their own eco-adventures in Spicewood. Guests experience nature up close by traversing through trees and learning about the different types of wildlife that live in the Hill Country. After zipping, guests may choose to spend the night in one of the park’s wacky and wonderful treehouse hotels. The zip line course is open March through November, and, excluding holidays, kids under 17 fly free with a paying adult.
By the Beach
Another course inspired by a Texan’s experience zip lining abroad is the South Padre Island Adventure Park. But this park’s owners thought there was too much hiking and not enough zip lining on their Caribbean excursion. As such, the South Padre zip-a-thon is designed to maximize fun. Four parallel lines run between two platforms, each of which has three different levels for landing. Guests reserve the course for thirty-minute or hour-long sessions, and after you’ve been strapped in and taught how to use the system, you can go back and forth as many times as you please. The parallel lines allow families to zip together (or race each other, if we’re being realistic) on what is essentially a go-kart track in the sky, sandwiched between the equally beautiful coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay wetlands. The park offers “Bucket List” packages that combine the zip lining experience with a horseback ride and petting zoo visit, and is a wonderful place to take a family beach trip. Zip liners must be at least ten years old.
Through the Pines
Zip Lost Pines leads guests on a tour of McKinney Roughs Nature Park above the forest canopy. After entering through the park, groups are led by a private tour guide to different platforms, suspension bridges, and zip lines, all the while marveling at stellar views of steep canyons and Bastrop’s famed loblolly pines. Zip Lost Pines has a dual-lined system that lets guests experience the joy of flying side-by-side. Tickets include all-day entrance to McKinney Roughs, where guests can hike and bike on seventeen miles of trails, or swim in the Colorado River in a classic craggly Hill Country landscape of big river rocks and grand old trees.
On the Lake
Lake Travis Zipline Adventures boasts the three longest and fastest zip lines in Texas. Experience Lake Travis by air in a full 360-degree panorama, by boat and by foot, as you hike through the Hill Country between zip lines. You ultimately arrive at a peaceful lakeside beach, where you can enjoy the sunshine from the ground. For those not afraid of the dark, we recommend trying a Night Flight tour: guests will be given glow sticks and headlamps, and then take to the sky for a three-hour moonlit flight. Keep an eye out for Austin’s famous bats!
Fun in the Forest
Trinity Forest Adventure Park in Dallas combines twenty zip lines with ropes courses, bridges, ladders, balance beams, and more into a delightfully challenging series of obstacle courses. As you travel through the park, you climb to higher elevations and higher zip lines, eventually reaching fifty feet in the air. Courses are broken down into levels of difficulty marked by a color system similar to ski slopes, so that visitors of all ages and fitness levels can participate.