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Ziplining, also known as canopy touring, is an adventure activity that allows participants to glide through the air while suspended from a cable. Typically set up in scenic natural environments such as forests, mountains, or over water bodies, ziplines provide a unique perspective of the surrounding landscape as you zip from one platform to another.

How Does Ziplining Work?

Ziplining involves a series of platforms or towers connected by cables. Participants are securely strapped into a harness attached to a pulley system, which is then hooked onto the zipline cable. After receiving safety instructions and guidance from trained guides, participants launch themselves off the platform, gravity propelling them along the cable to the next landing platform.

Where to Zip Line in The SF Bay Area

  • Sonoma Canopy Tours (Occidental): Nestled in a redwood forest, Sonoma Canopy Tours offers thrilling zip line courses. Enjoy two separate courses with multiple zip lines, sky bridges, and a rappel.

  • Mount Hermon Adventures (Santa Cruz): Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Hermon Adventures offers a Redwood Canopy Tour with six zip lines and two sky bridges, or a more challenging Sequoia Aerial Adventure course with even more thrilling obstacles.

  • Yosemite Ziplines and Adventure Ranch (Mariposa): While slightly outside the immediate Bay Area, Yosemite Ziplines provides a stunning experience in the Yosemite National Park area. Soar through the Sierra Nevada foothills and enjoy panoramic views.



  • The Experience: Ziplining involves being attached to a sturdy cable and traversing a set course, usually through trees or over landscapes. The focus is on speed and enjoying the views as gravity propels you forward.
  • Control: You have minimal control over your speed or direction on a zip line.
  • Duration: Individual zip line rides are relatively short, lasting from a few seconds to a couple of minutes. A full ziplining course can take up to a few hours.
  • Skill Level: No prior experience is needed for ziplining.
  • Thrill Factor: Ziplining offers a moderate level of thrill, primarily from the sensation of speed and height.
  • Physical Exertion: Ziplining is not particularly physically demanding.


  • The Experience: Paragliding involves sitting in a harness beneath a large canopy wing. You launch from a slope and use air currents to soar, controlling your direction and altitude. The focus is on the feeling of weightlessness and the freedom of flight.
  • Control: Skilled paragliders have a good degree of control over their flight.
  • Duration: Paragliding flights can last from several minutes to hours, depending on conditions.
  • Skill Level: Tandem paragliding (with an instructor) requires no experience. Learning to paraglide independently necessitates training and certification.
  • Thrill Factor: Paragliding can range from serene and scenic to more acrobatic and adrenaline-fueled, depending on the pilot’s skills and the chosen flight style.
  • Physical Exertion: Tandem paragliding is primarily passive. Independent paragliding requires more physical effort for launch and landing.

Choosing the Right One for You

  • Quick Thrills: If you are looking for short bursts of excitement with a stunning backdrop, ziplining is a great option.
  • Immersive Experience: If you dream of a bird’s eye view, the sense of flight, and longer duration, paragliding offers a more expansive adventure.
  • Accessibility: Tandem paragliding and ziplining are both great for first-timers.

Additional Factors

  • Cost: Paragliding often has a higher price point than ziplining.
  • Locations: Consider where each activity is offered in relation to your preferences. Ziplining is commonly found in forested areas or canyons, while paragliding requires specific launch sites with favorable topography.
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