There is Las Vegas, and then there is the impressively massive desert surrounding Las Vegas. To explore these desert surroundings, you can hike, bike and ride, but I recently had the opportunity to catch the desert from a birds-eye perspective with a zip lining excursion. I’ve done my fair share of zip lining in the last few years, with trips from the top of a mountain to the beach in Honduras, above the rainforest in Costa Rica and in the hard-to-reach-corners of Kentucky, but zip lining near Las Vegas was an experience unlike any of the others.
The zip lines near Las Vegas are located in Bootleg Canyon near Boulder City, which is southeast of the city by about 15 minutes. Unlike all of my other zip lining experiences, flying high over Bootleg Canyon is a trip through the desert. There are no tall, leafy trees or luscious scenery to admire, but rather a stark, dry and dusty landscape and views that go on for miles and miles on a clear day.
The Bootleg Canyon FlightlineZ office is located in Boulder City, but the zip lines are located throughout the canyon that makes up the backyard of the city. Riders have to sign a variety of waivers and be weighed and fitted for gear before taking a bus up to the platform for the first of four runs. All zip lining excursions have their own quirks, and the FlightlineZ runs are perhaps the most unusual I’ve come across. There are four lines running from each platform, and riders must sit back on built-in seats to fly down the lines. The braking system requires riders to pull down on a brake line attached to the back of the seats, and failure to apply the right pressure can result in a dangerous and speedy landing. (I’ve ridden a few zip lines that require braking with the use of a glove, and it seems to work a lot better.)
Nonetheless, the Bootleg Canyon zip lines provide a fun and interesting way to appreciate the dusty scenery that stretches for miles in Southern Nevada. It consists of four runs, the longest of which is nearly a mile-and-a-half long. The first platform is obviously the highest of the four, and the run has a steep drop of 450 feet in 15 seconds, though the design of the lines allows riders to enjoy it without the stomach-dropping feel of a roller coaster. The second platform offers the best view of the four with a peek of Lake Mead in the distance. The third run is the longest one, so enjoy the flight for nearly a minute before slowing to a stop. Finally, the fourth run is short and fast—an awesome way to finish the ride. FlightlineZ is looking into building a fifth line in the upcoming years, so be on the lookout for that addition.
In comparison to other zip lining adventures I’ve had, there were a couple things that stood out to me about this one: First, it took a long time to ride four runs—about three hours! Second, the guides are quirky and the bad jokes can be a bit awkward and get old fast, but they also grow on you after a couple hours.
Overall, I found the FlightlineZ zip lining experience to be … different. I wouldn’t say it was better or worse than any of the other zip lining trips I’ve been on, but it’s certainly been the most unique due to it’s desert location and four-line runs. At $159.00, the price is a bit steep in my opinion, but it’s on par for what you’d pay for this kind of activity in or near Las Vegas. This price includes a pick up from Excalibur on the Las Vegas Strip.
If you decide to check out FlightlineZ in Bootleg Canyon, here are a few things to note:
> Booking a tour in the early morning provides a better opportunity for wildlife viewing.
> You can carry a small camera with you, which will be placed in a zipped vest when you are on the run.
> Water is provided for all riders.
> Though tours may be cancelled for inclement weather, this rarely happens. Plan for windy conditions.
> Wear sunscreen. There is no shade cover.
> Close-toed shoes are required.
> Don’t forget to tip your tour guide.
My zip lining experience was compensated by FlightlineZ but all opinions are my own.