Zipliners can soar above the Alaskan wilderness on an excursion with Denali Zipline Tours. // © 2014 Christopher Batin
A fun activity for travelers of all ages, Alaska ziplines are becoming increasingly popular with families visiting the destination.
Located on 40 acres of privately owned land and a short drive from the heart of Talkeetna, Denali Zipline Tours (DZT) offers what few other ziplines can claim: awesome zips with views of Denali and skilled, local instruction.
“We’re a family-owned business, and I take pride in hiring as many locals as possible so guests can benefit from the knowledge of the residents,” said owner Mark Wildermuth.
In addition to its other great attributes, DZT is reliable. Wildermuth said that the zipline is a great activity rain or shine, with only a strong windstorm or lightning closing a line on rare occasions.
“With our zipline, tourists don’t have to be concerned as much about cancellations — unlike most weather-dependent tours,” he said.
On a recent visit, I loaded into the van at DFT’s main office in Talkeetna and, after a short drive, arrived at the zipline base camp, where guides gave participants an orientation and custom-fit us with helmets, gloves and other gear. Next, we learned to land, push off and brake using the “training wheel” zipline, a short zip a few feet off the ground.
Throughout the process — and over the course of the entire day — the guides were always happy and easygoing. Of course, newcomers to ziplining are often hesitant or unskilled, but the DZT guides were always patient and positioned themselves to assist those who needed help. Before the trip’s end, everyone was zipping with confidence. Also, the equipment DZT uses is all top-notch and well maintained.
As we climbed the stairs on a large spruce tree to our first major zipline, the looming countenance of Denali, 60 miles away, felt close enough to touch.
DZT’s first zipline is short, and the runs become longer and faster throughout the course. Guests traverse three walking bridges and a fun 12-foot rappel down to another platform. The zipline course weaves through a boreal birch/spruce forest in a riparian bottomland. The scenery of the Alaska Range and the forest ablaze in colors was stunning. I especially enjoyed zipping through the canopy of yellow birch leaves, often crashing through a leafy branch or two. I found it a lot more exciting to be zipping through the canopy, rather than above it.
The final zipline is a 600-foot trip that soars over a small pond. Expect speeds in excess of 30 mph before landing at a platform only six feet off the ground.
Afterward, guests change out of their zipline gear and catch the return ride to Talkeetna.
DZT allows cameras, which makes the experience even more fun. Plus, the guides are more than willing to snap a few shots of your clients in action.
All-around, it’s a five-star experience in my book.