Aerial Adventures: Ziplining in Arizona

One of the core tenets of Go! Learn Things is to “Get Outdoors and Find Adventure”. Outdoor adventure can be anything from an hour wandering a Zen garden, to a moment of an adrenaline-pumping step off a sky high platform. Ziplining is a trendy and popular adventure on the adrenaline-pumping side of the spectrum. I couldn’t quite talk myself into this activity in Costa Rica a few years ago. But when I moved to Arizona I discovered an opportunity right up the road from me. It was time to give this a try.

Let’s Go! Learn Things about Ziplining…

*I was hosted by Arizona Zipline Adventures. The fun adventure and opinions are mine alone.*

History of Ziplining

Ziplines go by many different names around the world. In the UK they call it an Aerial Runway, in South Africa, a FoeFie Slide and in New Zealand, a Flying Fox. I have to admit I love the name Flying Fox and may start telling people I went Flying Foxing? Well maybe not, here in the States, Ziplining is what we recognize.

Whatever you call it, Ziplining is basically a method of crossing between two highpoints on a rope with the help of gravity. The modern origin of ziplining is thought to be the Tyrolean Alps where climbers used it for mountaineering and mountain rescues. Another common technical name for ziplining is Tyrolean Traverse. However, various versions of ropeway/aerial cable transport can be found in the history of all mountainous regions of the world.

Modern Ziplining

Today’s versions consist of a pulley suspended on stainless steel cable that propels adventurers down a slope by gravity. They are especially popular in Costa Rica and other rainforest environments as a means to experience the vibrant canopy life. Some feel that ziplines are an eco-friendly way to view an environment without tromping through endangered habitats. My opinion on this is undecided.

ziplining

Santa Catalinas and Mt. Lemmon

Here in Tucson we are circled by several minor mountain ranges. One of the most distinctive is the Santa Catalina Mountains. They curve from the Northwest to the Southeast, hugging the city into its Southeastern foothills. I have another post about the amazing road trip along the Sky Islands Scenic Byway that carries you 6000 ft to the towering Mt. Lemmon. This is the main route to access Mt. Lemmon. However, I had heard there was a “backdoor” to Mt. Lemmon that was for off-road vehicles and slightly crazy adventurers. Sounds interesting. So the first week I was in Arizona, and still waiting for furniture to arrive, I went in search of this “backdoor”.

Arizona Zipline Adventures in Oracle, AZ

Although Tucson has a freeway, the main North-South traffic artery is Highway 77 or Oracle Rd. Not surprisingly, Oracle Rd. takes you north to the interesting little town of Oracle, AZ. Oracle has been a mining town, a cattle ranching oasis, an artist colony, home to Oracle State Park and most recently an outdoor adventureland. It is in this back road setting, literally at the end of the paved road, that I discovered Arizona Zipline Adventures.

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Adventure at the end of the road

Arizona Zipline Adventures sits on an old cattle ranch and the setting reflects this historic use of Arizona countryside. They state their mission:


“Enrich community and promote the enjoyment and exploration of the region,”

AZA

The venue is the site of Arizona’s first and fastest Zipline EcoTour. It is also an off-road staging spot, gathering place and “watering hole” for the backside of Mt. Lemmon. Beyond ziplining, Arizona Zipline Adventures offers food at the Peppersauce Kitchen. Peppersauce Kitchen serves daily lunch and several special weekend dining events. One of their popular weekend events is “Grill Your Own Steak Night” on the third Saturday of the month.

Peppersauce History


The region further up the backside of Mt. Lemmon has several references to Peppersauce. Peppersauce Canyon, Peppersauce Cave and Peppersauce Campgrounds all nestle into the picturesque creekside oasis. Sycamore and walnut trees offer precious shade and delicious color in the fall. In days gone by the canyon was a comfortable retreat for the laborers from the nearby mines.

Peppersauce is a catchy name and refers to some kitschy history. Many fun stories float around about how the name came about. The general gist is that prospector Alex McKay somehow misplaced his precious cache of hot sauce. Whether it was lost or stolen remains a mystery. In either case McKay’s friends and canyon legend took over and the name stuck to the region.

My first Ziplining Experience

Gear and Safety

Obviously Arizona Zipline Adventures is a cool place to visit and hangout but we are looking for some outdoor adventure! Let’s see some ziplining. Because this was my first time, and I have a bit of fear of heights, I watched their safety procedures very closely. The staff was incredibly thorough, patient, kind and competent. There were numerous safety precautions taken for every rider every time. They reviewed the process with us individually at every jump. The equipment was modern and well-maintained. They even had covered ramadas and water at each platform for those waiting in the hot Arizona sun.

Aerial Adventure!

Arizona Zipline Adventures has 5 stations/platforms for ziplining, each one moving higher up the slope and offering a longer steeper ride.

I am not going to lie, the first ride was pretty nerve-wracking. The hardest part is that you have to climb up a couple of steps to reach the handlebars of the pulley. Those steps are open to the drop at your feet and pretty intimidating at first. But you and your harness are safely clipped. It is really just a case of mind over matter the first time. So up I went, the staff gently explained everything again and off I went…

The final ride was a double cable so you could race for the truly competitive in your group. This last platform was atop a fire tower. Luckily, we had been gaining confidence with each progressive station so we were ready for this challenge. What amazing views of the Santa Catalina northern foothills, San Pedro Basin, Peppersauce Canyon and distant Galiuro Mountain Range!

Get Outdoors and Learn Things about yourself!!

Readers often comment that they couldn’t be this adventurous. Like there is something different about me that allows me to explore and try things. I couldn’t disagree more. I am nothing special, just willing to push myself a little. I know the Nike tagline of “Just Do It” is very cliched, but it is so true. There are things I try that I walk away from and say “Phew! I am glad that is done and I don’t need to do that again”. But far more often, I walk away empowered and thrilled. Even better, I walk away having learned things!!!

This experience at Arizona Zipline Adventures was just such an occasion. I highly encourage you to push past that trepidation and try something adventurous today.

Go! Learn Things on an Outdoor Adventure!

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Peppersauce Station is located at the base of the scenic Santa Catalina Mountains, just outside of Oracle, Arizona. 
​Open Tuesday -Sunday from 8:00 am- 6:00 pm, weather dependent. Zipline and Kitchen Hours vary. Call for details: 520.308.9350

2 thoughts on “Aerial Adventures: Ziplining in Arizona”

  1. I’ve wanted to do this but never have (yet!). Seems safer than bungee jumping, which I don’t think I’d ever do. I also think I’d be more comfortable trying this in the US before someplace out of the country too.

    1. I agree, bungee jumping looks like pointless terror. The ziplining was like flying over beautiful scenery. At one of the platforms I took off just as a hawk was flying by in the distance and it was so majestic.

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