With 18 summers to work with, I’m happy to say our 13th and 11th summer was a pretty good one, filled with hiking, backpacking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and all-around family fun.

In July, the boys and I had a chance to go ziplining, a first for all of us. With one fearless child (age 13) and another that’s quite cautious (age 11), I was a bit concerned about how the day would go. I should also add that the 11-year-old has a fear of heights. Initially, he didn’t want to go but, after watching some videos and discussing what to expect, he agreed to spend the morning suspended from a cable above forested hillsides near Horseshoe Bend. And what a day we had!IMG_2959-lowFirst, the zip guides gave a safety briefing and showed us how to put on our harness system. There was a short walk to the first platform. They were calm, patient, and encouraging with first-timers and those a bit hesitant to pick up their feet. Fearless child had a blast because everything was new, fast, and exciting. He was in his element, with a smug smile of confidence reflected in every photo. Cautious child exceeded all of my expectations and his own, zipping hands-free, leaving the platform backwards, always willing to be first off the platform (after the first time), and having a genuinely good time. His photos show ear-to-ear grins—the kind you see when a fear is conquered, a goal accomplished, and pure kid fun kicks in.

1D4A0521As parents, these are the moments we live for—to see our kids enjoying and experiencing new things. If ziplining is something you’d like your kids to try, or maybe you already know they love it, plan a trip on any of Idaho’s seven zipline tours. There are often weight requirements, so check with the zip tour company to make sure your little ones aren’t too small or to see if they can ride tandem with an adult. If zipping is new to your family, take a look at their websites, watch videos, and ask questions before your trip so everyone is comfortable and informed.

Silver Streak Zipline Tours is located near the historic town of Wallace in northern Idaho. This platform-based course zips you 300 feet above ground with beautiful views of Wallace and the surrounding mountains.

Zip the Snake offers an educational tour of the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls. Riders will learn about the history, geology, and wildlife in the Snake River Plain as they travel the lines.

Schweitzer Mountain Zip Line stretches over 700 feet, beginning at the resort village and running towards Lake Pend Oreille, offering spectacular mountain and lake views.

Zip Idaho in Horseshoe Bend offers seven lines, including Idaho’s longest at 2,000 feet. You’ll zip from treetop to treetop above the beautiful Boise National Forest, plus walk the new 60-foot-long Wobbly Bridge, sure to get your adrenaline pumping.

Tamarack Canopy Zipline Tour, located near Donnelly in the southwest Idaho mountains, promises a thrilling, action-packed mountain tour experience. Eight ziplines range in length from 250-800 feet, whisking zippers above 4,425 feet of rugged forest, creeks, and canyons.

Heise Hot Springs Zip in Ririe, southeast Idaho, has seven ziplines covering nearly a mile of terrain. During the two-hour tour, riders learn the history of Heise Hot Springs while enjoying the beautiful mountains and the valley and river below.

Lava Zipline Adventures near Lava Hot Springs in southeast Idaho features a course with three lines of 800-, 1,000- and 1,500-feet in length. The 2.5-hour tour travels through a scenic canyon with views of the Portneuf River, Petticoat Peak, and Haystack Mountain.

Trip Tips

  • Call ahead to make sure your kids meet height, weight, and age requirements of the particular operator. Many companies also have a max weight of about 250 pounds.
  • Zip operators like to maximize the fun, so plan for a two- to four-hour adventure. If you need meds like inhalers or epi pens, bring them along.
  • Safety first! Closed-toe shoes, pants or long shorts, and shirts long enough to tuck in are required. Long hair has to be pulled back into a ponytail.
  • If you’re planning to snap photos, bring a small camera on a wrist strap—don’t risk expensive cameras with long lenses. Check to see if your tour operator rents mobile GoPro cameras to capture your zip on video.
  • Some operators will take photos during your tour.  Please check beforehand to confirm.

Laurie McConnell

Published on March 25, 2015