Ziplining is exploding in popularity, and you don’t have to go far to experience it yourself. Our family of four recently took a sky tour of the beautiful Minnesota River valley via zipline. Ziplines are daring transportation methods made up of a cable stretched between two elevated points. The rider gets harnessed up, grabs onto the handle of a pulley, and flies off to the other side of the chasm. If you’re ready to step off that platform and try ziplining yourself, there are a few things you should know.
You can do it today
Just an hour and 45 minute drive from Rochester is Minnesota’s top rated zipline adventure, near Henderson, Minnesota. Kerfoot Canopy Tour(30200 Scenic Byway Rd., Henderson) is one of the highest, longest, and fastest zipline tours in the state. General Manager Ed MacHolda says Kerfoot is an "international recreation experience" and having ziplined in two foreign countries, I can confirm Kefoot delivers on MacHolda’s statement. Our biggest disappointment of the day was not being able to take a phone or camera on the course. Go Pros are allowed however, and you can rent one there for $30.
"Ziplining is Awesome!"
Ziplinig is "awesome and sooo fun!" according to my 10-year-old daughter who had her first zip adventure at Kerfoot. The course is really three experiences in one. It offers a jungle feel in the first part of the course, deep in the trees. In the second part we encountered longer cables (up to 900 feet) and gorgeous scenery above the canopy. The last section is built for speed – up to 40 miles per hour! The tour is said to take 2.5 hours to complete (we finished in under two), but the time flies by.
Soaring at a height of up to 175 feet above the ravine left me a bit in awe at times. The trees were a bright, luscious green and would certainly pop with vibrant colors in the fall. Kerfoot also offers winter tours, where the cold makes the lines tighten up so you go even faster. The scenery on the 14 ziplines is breathtaking, but focusing on braking at the appropriate time did take away from my ability to fully enjoy the view during the ride.
No experience necessary
Sky guides teach guests to properly ride and brake at ground school, just a few feet above the ground. From there, when guests feel confident, they move to the more challenging lines. Our guides Mariah and Rylee were fun and encouraging (though their jokes were terrible). My daughter was a bit afraid of having to brake at the start of the tour, but she picked it up right away and had no trouble for the duration of the course. It was a great experience for her to work through her fears with the supportive sky guides.
It’s fun for all ages 10 and up
My 10-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son had a blast, as did their parents. "You don’t need to be super athletic," says MacHolda. In fact, Kerfoot’s oldest zipliner was a 95-year-old man who zipped with his 90-year-old wife. Both thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Kerfoot also sees its share of guests ready to brave their fear of heights. There are easy exit points throughout the course if a guest chooses not to complete the tour, but few use them.
It’s worth the drive to Kerfoot to experience a bit of adventure close to your own backyard. The course includes a 170 foot suspension bridge and spiral staircases, too. Kerfoot has added kayak tours of the Minnesota River and will be launching an adventure high ropes course yet this season. Make a day of it. As MacHolda noted, "I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone disappointed." We definitely were not.