Colorado Zip Line Adventures - WOW!

On the last morning of our 18 day Colorado/Utah/Arizona Road trip, we stopped by Zip Adventures in Walcott, Colorado, which is just West of Vail. They have six zip lines starting at 100 feet long (so you can get comfortable) to the last monster run of over a 1,000 feet that goes back-n-forth above the Alkali Canyon. While (securely!) strapped in, you are zipping a hundred plus feet above the ground at up to 30 miles per hour - it's pretty wild.

After misc. paperwork and getting fitted with a harness, you pile in to a six-wheeled "army vehicle" for a short drive over dirt roads. Our great guides for the day, Todd & Dan, did a safety briefing and said lets go zipping. One of them goes first, and then the other safety checks each person, clips us in, and sends us on our way across the canyon. One naturally "holds on" for dear life (similar to parasailing or sky diving), but you are in a harness and my younger son started doing hands-free hot-dog moves! By the last ride, everyone was relaxed and enjoying the awesome ride, view, and experience.

My wife Wendy zipping down the Canyon

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My 11 year old son Dirk waves for the camera as he goes zipping by

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Zip Adventures guide Todd had perfect form

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Close-up of Todd with Interstate Highway 70 behind him

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Barry takes video as he goes shooting across the canyon - mouseover to see close-up!

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Dirk and 8-year old Kyle zipping backwards in the canyon

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Yes, Kyle was quite the hot-dogger! ;-)

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Dirk wasn't quite as daring, but he'd still wave for the camera

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Zip Adventure guide Todd does a safety check while clipping into the zip line

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Dan watches as Todd takes the first ride across the zip line - mouseover image to see next step!

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Just step off the raised platform and away you go

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Here's what it looks like on the other end

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"Just another day in the office hanging out on the zip line"

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Self-Portrait with wide-angle lens

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Scary looking photographer dude with I-70 in background

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Dan (driving) and Todd in the Zip Adventures six-wheeled "go anywhere army vehicle"

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Dirk-n-Kyle had great fun riding in it and then jumping out of it

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Photography Notes: It's tough to capture the sheer size of the Zip Line operation, because the canyon is so large/expansive and people look very small in it. So I did a mix of ultra-wide angle and telephoto shots. Another option is slowing down the shutter speed to show motion, but then either the subject or the background will be blurred - see Todd with the I-70 background. And before you know it, you have run all six zip lines - darn! ;-)

The self-portraits were kinda fun as Todd & Dan were willing to bring an extra "zip line runner" that we attached in front of me. I then screwed in a tripod mount to the Canon 50D DSLR (with an ultra-wide lens on it), put a carabineer through that, and attached to the runner. I could then reach up and trigger the shutter. Remember this was my first time ziplining, so my natural inclination was to "hold on", but I was careful not to yank the camera, especially since I "sagged" when I started zipping. This resulted in a steep vertical angle, so after a couple of runs, I asked if we could run a rope to drop it a bit and they were happy to help out. This worked much better, plus I was getting more comfortable in the harness/zip line. Even with the ultra-wide lens, I was a bit close since my arms are only so long. Another approach would be to put the camera on the tripod (with safety straps) and have that hooked up to the runner to provide about another foot of offset (about all that you would need) and use a wireless trigger to fire the shutter. Or optionally, run a second (better looking!) person down the zip line next to me and simply have me take pictures of 'em as they go down!

So lots of different ways to shoot this, but it was my first time zipping, plus I wanted to enjoy the experience. Would be fun to do it again sometime!