Big Sky Resort's Zipline Tour takes you accross three separate lines past views of the Spanish Peaks
IT'S ALL A matter of perspective. We’re at Big Sky Resort in Big Sky Montana at the edge of the first Zipline of the morning. Did I mention I’m supposed to fly 425 feet through the air—60 feet above the mountain tops at 25 miles per hour?
No sweat says my young cousin's nine-year-old Ethan Sitzman and his six-year-old sister Hannah, who are geared up, like I am, with safety harness, helmet and carabineers that will attach us to the cables. I’m told they are so strong they could hold the weight of a small car, but I’m still nervous.
I flash back to the disastrous time I had in Costa Rica when I hit a tree zip lining.
No worries, says our guide Bre Houston. We don’t even have to brake. “We do everything.” Also along to lend moral support are our guides from Austin Lehman Adventures. The Montana company is known for its Greater Yellowstone trips and we’re testing out an itinerary for next year.
I take a deep breath and I’m off flying above the tree tops screaming at the top of my lungs across what locals call Cat Alley.
The kids can’t stop laughing because I’m screaming. Their mom Jayme opts out of this first one because the height is making her legs shake. Nothing wrong with admitting when you are frightened, we tell the kids.
“Make like a star fish if you want to go slower and cannonball if you want to go faster,” another guide, Adam Glick, tells us, assuring me it gets easier with each try.
He’s right. The second Zip line, Coconut Grove—490 feet above the ground and 350 feet long-- is more fun. The kids go upside down. Jayme gives it a try and everyone cheers. The third and last of the day, Moose Drop, still is 350 feet above the ground but I actually enjoy the ride and am greeted by caramel apples by our Austin Lehman guides at the end.
Kids as young as four - as long as they weigh 45 pounds and are tall enough for a harness to fit properly - as well as people in their 80s have zip lined here after a half-mile hike—well worth the $63 for the entertainment and the feeling of accomplishment.
Ski resorts like Big Sky are doing all they can to attract summer visitors—in this case encouraging those heading to Yellowstone National Park to stop along the way. In addition to the zipline, which is also open in the winter, there’s a bungee trampoline, a high ropes course with eight different elements, paint ball, a rock climbing wall, and mountain bike trails down the mountain, not to mention all of the spectacular hiking all around here less than an hour from Yellowstone National Park.
Since Yellowstone is just 46 miles from here, Big Sky Resort, with affordable condos and plenty to do, can be a good home base, especially if park hotels are sold out. Sign on for a guided hike or just take the chair lift up and meander down the mountain.
Our gang gives our morning at Big Sky resounding thumbs up—the kids had so much fun they couldn’t decide which was the “funnest”—ziplining, bungee trampoline, or the rock wall. As for me, I was just glad I confronted my terror and survived.
- Eileen Ogintz, TWISI guest writer, family travel expert, and syndicated travel columnist. Check out other stories from Eileen at takingthekids.com and in her new series of guides for Taking the Kids throughout the Western United States, now available for the NOOK and Kindle with chapters about Yellowstone and more from 99 cents.
Check out Big Sky's Zipline for yourself.
Hanna and Ethan zipline! Photos courtesy of Crystal Images.