What is a canopy tour

What is a Canopy Tour? – Everything You Need to Know

If you’re thinking about enjoying a canopy tour, it’s important to know what you’re getting into.

That’s why today we will tell you everything you need to know about them!

Of course, canopy tours are safe and people are harnessed to a steel cable during the entire tour.

This provides a lot of confidence, especially for people who are not used to such adventures and are stepping out of their comfort zone to try something new.

Canopy tours mostly consist of handing bridges or wires high up in the trees, hence why they’re called “canopy” tours.

People get to walk through these bridges among the tree branches and enjoy not only the landscape, but the canopy of the trees, so they can admire nature from a different perspective.


What is a Canopy Tour?

Canopy tour forest adventures

A canopy tour consists of following a set route through wooded and often mountainous areas primarily using zip-lines and aerial bridges also known as zipline canopy tours.

The term “canopy” originated in the 70s when biologists and ecologists installed traveling lines in the treetops.

This was done for practical purposes because it gave scientists a more effective, efficient, and quick way to work.

This way, they no longer had to trudge through thick forests. Instead, they could simply walk above the canopy for their travels, which was less time-consuming. This wasn’t the origin of zip lining, though.

That is much more difficult to trace. However, we know that they used zip lines in 18th-century China to transport goods across streams and rivers.

Because zip lines are such a simple concept, we can imagine that people have been using them for centuries.

Not for recreational purposes like it’s used today, but for a wide variety of practical purposes.

A fun fact about zip lines is that they are what the Invisible Man used to get around so quickly in H.G. Wells’ novel.


Canopy Tours vs. Zip Lining

Zip lining consists of a rope or cable that’s suspended between two support structures.

In zip line tours, zip lines are installed between man-made towers or ground anchors.

Zipline Tours

There needs to be an elevation drop between point A and point B so the rider who’s attached to a pulley can roll down until they reach their landing point.

Zip line riders can use this system to travel at altitude, whether for exploration purposes or simply for the thrill of zipping through the air. Zip lining nowadays is mostly about the adrenaline and the thrill.

Canopy tours are guided tours where people can explore the forest canopy.

This is commonly done with the use of zip lines, walkways up in the air, or viewing platforms.

These tours provide full views of the canopy of the forest and they allow tourists to enjoy scenic views of the landscape.

Canopy tour foot bridge

Not to mention canopy tours provide better views of the flora, fauna, and landmarks of cultural or historic interest that may be around.

That makes the tours educational, though they’re mostly a lot of fun.

It’s not uncommon for canopy tours to be confused with zip line tours. However, they are different.

Canopy tours include hiking, going through obstacles, a naturalist guide, and other elements mostly using foot bridges between platforms.

On the other hand, zip lines are just zip lines; you are strapped in and you’re zipped to another platform.

However, many operators started interchanging the two terms and now offer zipline canopy tours.  Now whenever you searched for a zip line adventure, both kinds of tours became synonymous with one another.

When it comes down to understanding the difference between zip lining and canopy tours, you can look at it this way.

Zip lining consists of leaping off a platform and zipping through the air down a cable. You get from point A to point B in an instant.

In a canopy tour, you get to zip line, but you also get to have the same experience as biologists when they explored the ecosystems of tropical rainforests.

An encouraging trained guide will join you and they will make sure you are secure the entire way.

Another great benefit of a canopy tour is that it allows you to hug trees between zip lines and be face to face with nature.

The high of adrenaline is unique and it’s a memorable experience, especially if you have friends and family joining you.


Best Canopy Tour Pioneers

You can enjoy canopy tours in the many locations throughout the world but Costa Rica is the real pioneer of canopy exploration.

Canopy Tour Costa Rica

Zip line Arenal Volcano Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its incredible canopy tours and for good reason. Just imagine how amazing it is to sail through the treetops high up in the air and have the opportunity to enjoy the views of the diverse wildlife in the country.

Safety is always a priority in canopy tours, so there’s nothing for you to worry about.

All you have to do is enjoy the tour and everything nature has to offer. In Costa Rica, almost a quarter of the land is made up of rainforests, which is why there are many companies that offer incredible canopy tours for you, your friends, and your family if you’re traveling with them. It makes for an incredible adventure!

Most of the national parks in Costa Rica offer these tours, but we recommend Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio, and Monteverde because they provide the best options.

When you get to the start line of your tour, you’ll be provided with a helmet and a harness.

Then, they will clip you into the trolley and have you stand at the edge of the platform so you can leap and zip through the line to reach the other platform.

If you’ve never zip lined before, your first time will be exhilarating and you’ll have the time of your life as you fly over the treetops.

When the brakes kick in and you come to a halt, your guide will help you onto the platform and you can continue with the tour.

Canopy tours are excellent adventures and they should be at the top of the list of anyone seeking a good thrill in a safe environment.

Adventurous travelers enjoy canopy tours greatly, so if you’re finding something exciting to do on your next trip, this is the way to go.


Are Canopy Tours Safe?

Yes, Canopy Tours are not only safe but a ton of fun. Zip lines are known for being safe and they are used in these tours.

Additionally, you are always accompanied by a guide who is there to keep you safe and encourage you along the way so you feel confident.

Now, zip lines do pose certain risks that you should know about so you can know everything.


In a study from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System in 2015, it was determined that there were 16,850 injuries related to zip lining between 1997 and 2012.

Nearly half of these injuries were suffered by people who were 9 years old or younger, and most of the injuries were caused by falls.

Deaths on zip lines are rare, but they have occurred.


How to Stay Safe on a Zip Line?

Though the people responsible for the canopy tours will follow all the precautions and safety measures to keep everyone safe, you can still be a bit proactive.

There are a few things you can do to stay safe on a zip line during your canopy tour.

First, you need to choose a reputable canopy tour and do your research. It’s important to know that regulation varies from state to state.

That means there aren’t any countrywide standards for building or operating zip lines, which are a must for canopy tours.

When you are looking for canopy tours to have this amazing experience, you need to research the company well.

Don’t only read the information on their website and reviews, go a step further and contact them and ask how their staff are trained, how often their courses are inspected. Ask them what their safety record stats, and what safety standards do they follow from organizations such as the Association for Challenge Course Technology or the Professional Ropes Course Association.

If the company is able to answer these questions confidently and be transparent, you can consider them as an option for your canopy tour adventure.

Second, pay attention to everything when you’re going through the canopy tour.

Listen closely when the guides provide rules or instructions, don’t take off your safety gears at any point, and if you are ever concerned about something, share that with the staff right away.

As you can see, being proactive is very important. You must choose a company with a good reputation and safety measures that cares about people’s experiences.

Reading reviews will help you determine how they treat their clients and what you can expect from the canopy tour.

However, don’t hesitate to go a step further and talk to them directly. Do your due diligence, follow the guide’s lead, and have fun!


Are Canopy Tours Scary?

Since canopy tours include zip lining, it can be scary indeed.

It’s not a terrifying experience because you know you’re safe, but your heart will pound like crazy and you will feel scared, especially if this is not something you’ve done before. The scariest part of the experience is when you have to jump off the platform.

Scary Zipline

That’s where your natural instincts will kick in and you will feel like you don’t want to do this and your body can work against you.

At that moment, you have to trust your guide and your gear, and just jump.

Fighting your instincts will be worth it! As you zoom through, you’ll feel as free as a bird and the experience will be incredible. Once you reach the other platform, you’ll be ready to do it again.


What Is the Weight Limit for Zip Lining?

Zip line operators love to boast about how their gear can hold an elephant. However, there are weight restrictions in place that are set to protect you.

For example, riders who are too light might stop in the middle, while riders who are too heavy may reach higher speeds and potentially hurt themselves on the platform.

The weight limit for zip lining is between 60 and 275 pounds, and you can confirm this with the company or instructor.


What Should I Wear for a Canopy Tour?

When you’re getting ready for a canopy tour, it’s important to choose your clothes well because they will make an impact on your experience.

You want to choose breathable layers that will allow you to move freely and comfortably.

Canopy zipline adventure tours

For example, leggings, trousers, capri pants, or long shorts can provide some padding for the harness, which you’ll wear the entire time.

If the weather is warm, a simple t-shirt or tank top will do just fine, but if the weather is cool or cold, go for long sleeves or a sweatshirt.

Your shoes should be close-toed, so you can wear sneakers or hiking boots, whatever’s most comfortable.

Accessories should be kept at home because they can get tangled, so avoid wearing necklaces, scarves, hats, etc.

You can bring sunglasses, but make sure they’re secure when you have to zip line.


Do People Have to Be in Fit for Zip Lining?

No, not at all. It doesn’t matter what level of physical ability or fitness you have, you will be able to enjoy zip lining.

The harness will support you, so when you grip the handles of the zip line, you don’t need upper body strength.

You may feel a bit of stress on your knees and ankles as you climb onto the landing platform, but guides are there to help bring you up.

On canopy tours, you have to hike between zip lines and in some tours, there are stairs and suspension bridges to go through as well, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Research the course and determine if it’s suitable for you. However, the zip line itself won’t be physically challenging.


How Fast Do Zip Lines Go?

Zip lines go very fast and it’s one of the most exciting things about the experience.

The fastest zip line in the world goes to Zip World, located in North Wales because they reach top speeds of 125 mph.

But don’t worry! Most zip lines are not that fast. On average, zip lines reach top speeds of 31 to 40 mph, but they can also reach speeds of 21 to 30 mph, which is a lot tamer.

So, they are fast, but they are not scary fast where you feel too uncomfortable to enjoy the experience.


How Do You Make a Zip Line Stop?

Zip lines offer two different braking systems, passive braking system or active braking system.

The passive braking system involves mechanisms that reduce the speed automatically, so the zip line will slow down on its own and you don’t have to perform any actions to activate the system. Hence why they are called “passive” braking systems.

Active braking systems are different because they do depend on you to slow down.

Whether you have to grab the cable or pull down a break, they don’t work automatically like passive brakes.

When you’re researching canopy tours, it’s a good idea to ask them what kind of brake system they use so you can know what to expect.


What Are the Best Canopy Tours in the US?

When it comes to canopy tours in the US, there are many options available, so it can be difficult to make a decision. However, here are some of the best canopy tours and zip lines in the country:

The Shepherd of the Hills – Zip Line Canopy Tours. The Shepherd of the Hills was voted #1 Aerial Adventure Park in the US in 2019 and 2020 by USA Today, so they are known for their zip lines and canopy tours. Their prices are affordable and the tour lasts up to 2 hours.


Cypress Valley Canopy Tours. Cypress Valley is another great option because they offer amazing canopy tours. They are available for individuals, groups, families, and even companies. They have an average duration of 90 minutes and they go above and beyond to provide a thrilling experience.


Canopy Ridge Farm. The Canopy Ridge Farm is a well-known aerial adventure park and they’ve also been featured in USA Today. Their zip line tours will take you through the Blue Ridge Foothills, providing a different perspective of this amazing area.


There are many other options to consider, but these three are among the best.

Remember, do your research, read reviews, and contact them directly so you can learn more about their services if you decide to consider them.

Final Words

Canopy tours are unique adventures and they are perfect for people who are looking for a good thrill.

They are safe, a lot of fun, educational, and they allow you to enjoy nature from a different perspective.

If you want to do something different but safe, you can’t go wrong with a canopy tour!

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