It's no wonder zipline tours are more popular than ever here in the States. The sensation you get from ziplining feels like flying, and it's a manageable way for all types of travelers (at all fitness levels) to join in an adventure activity. Some tours include guided hikes through lush landscapes before an effortless ride, while others shuttle you straight to the top. Ziplines can range from leisurely to speedy, catering to those who want to soak in the scenery, or get a rush of adrenaline.
Considering that there are currently more than 700 ziplines in the country, we're not going to rank them all. But here's a list of some classic rides – plus a few quirky ones to try:
Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, Ohio
Now here's a Midwest zipline that has it all. At Hocking Hills, there are countless ways to view the leafy trees, sandstone cliffs, and a winding river. Try a classic 10-zipline and five-bridge canopy tour that has you hanging belly down, Superman-style. Or check out the "X-treme hybrid" course, which features 11 ziplines that enter a cave. There are even options for nighttime, sunset, and twilight rides. Still haven't have enough? Go for a zipline and canoeing combo. Most single tours cost between $64 and $89.
Skyline Eco Adventures claims that its Haleakala tour was the first zipline tour in the entire country. The 90- to 120-minute journey through a valley of fragrant eucalyptus trees takes riders through remote pockets of Maui's upcountry. It's also a great option for beginners, since the five sections gradually build in length and speed as you go. Like many experiences in the Aloha state, this comes at a premium, but booking online gets you a a rate of $107.96 -- that's 10 percent off.
One of the longest and fastest ziplines in the U.S., the ZipRider, has adventurous visitors flying at speeds of up to 65 mph near the port of Hoonah in Alaska. Along 5,495 feet of cables, you'll drop as much as 1,320 feet in elevation as views of majestic mountains, little islands, and cruise ships fly by. It might sound scary, but because you'll be shuttled up to the platform after a van tour of Hoonah – with the option of zipping in tandem with five other friends. It's a great option for those who want to see incredible views, but would rather forgo hours of hiking.
Sure, the goal of most ziplines is to see some beautiful scenery, but how about adding a few sharp turns and sudden drops? That's what this "zipline roller coaster" is all about. Rather than hanging from ropes, you follow semi-rigid tracks that loop and dip among the cypress and swamps of eastern Florida. (If you're having a difficult time picturing it, check out this video.) While you can only experience the ride as a part of a four-pack deal, the entire four-hour experience is only $65.
We love that this North Carolina newcomer harkens back to one of the original intents of ziplining: nature discovery and promoting the environment. ZipQuest made headlines a few years ago for providing unprecedented access to Carver's Falls, a secluded 55 acres of lush forest with that was relatively free of visitors. The main event? A 150-foot wide waterfall. The course is designed with a respect for the surroundings, like a wonky (but sturdy) staircase that spirals 25 feet up a tree without actually ever touching it. Tours cost $85 for 2.5 hours.
For a different kind of ziplining experience, go underground. Mega Cavern is a man-made subterranean cave in Louisville, KY that encompasses more than 17 miles of underground passageways. The Mega Zips tour, which lasts between 1.5 and 2 hours and costs $59-$79, will have you barreling through six ziplines and two "challenge" bridges. There's even a racing zipline if you're feeling competitive, and neon illuminations only add to the fun.