How Long Is a Zip Line?

You’re the type of vacationer who prefers an airtight itinerary with everything planned from the start of the day to the end. Your kids have begged and begged you to go ziplining and you’ve finally acquiesced, but you need to know how long to plan for the zipline tour. How long is a zip line?

The average length of a zip line tour is an hour to an hour and a half. The timeframe above accommodates for training and orientation as well as the duration of the zip line ride itself. Transportation may be included as well. 

Wait, training and orientation? Yes, there’s a lot more that goes into a zip line tour than just zip lining. Keep reading for more information so you know exactly where your time and money are going when you schedule a zip line ride!

The Average Length of a Zip Line Ride

We talked in this article about how average zip line costs are between $50 and $300. You want to ensure you get your money’s worth and that your kids are entertained for at least an afternoon if you go ziplining. How long will you spend on the zipline course?

The average length of a zip line tour is an hour to an hour and a half, sometimes even two and a half hours. As we’ll talk about a little later, when you pay for a tour and it’s an hour and a half, that rarely means you and the kids will spend that much time zip lining.

Lots of other preparatory activities get rolled into that time. If you read our posts on parasailing, you might remember it’s the same case there. You’re booking an hourlong parasail ride, but you have to get to and from the launch area.

Now, there are exceptions to the above rule. For example, in the article about zip line prices that we linked you to before, we talked about Spencer Valley Zipline in Redwood, New York. When you book a zip line experience through them, you can ride an unlimited number of times depending on how big your budget is. For each rider, it’s $50 for unlimited rides.

We couldn’t find further information about how long your ride would be, but unlimited zip line rides is like hitting the jackpot. The kids can ride the course until they’ve tired themselves out and you get great value for your money.

In most cases though, you should expect one ride down the zip line course only. 

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Real Examples of Zip Line Lengths

Before you schedule your zip line ride for the family, you might want to see a few examples of real zip line tours and their respective durations. You’re in luck, as that’s just the information we have for you in this section.

  • Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, West Orange, New Jersey – 1 hour to 1.5 hours
  • KapohoKine Adventures Zipline Through Paradise, Hilo, Hawaii – 4 hours over 8 zipline courses
  • TreeRush Adventures at Fontenelle Forest, Bellevue, Washington – 2 hours, 40 minutes
  • Captain Zipline’s Lost Canyon Zipline Tour, Salida, Colorado – 2 hours to 2.5 hours
  • Hocking Hills Canopy Tour’s Original Canopy Tour, Rockbridge, Ohio – 2.5 hours to 3 hours
  • Skyline Ziplines, Haleakala, Hawaii – 1.5 hours 
  • CLIMB Works Smokey Mountains’ Mountaintop Zipline Tour, Gatlinburg, Tennessee – 2 hours
  • New York Zipline Canopy Tours’ Mid-Mountain Outdoor Adventure Tour, Hunter, New York – 3 hours 

Breaking Down the Time Spent on a Zip Line Tour

We want to stress that if you did book a ride at New York Zipline Canopy Tours, the duration of your 3-hour ride is not all for zip lining. Knowing what you’re in for ahead of time will help you plan not only for your itinerary, but so you’ll keep the kids from getting too bored until the ziplining starts. 

Arrival to ZipLine Tour

First, you have to get to the zip line course. Depending on where in the country or in the world your ride is scheduled, sometimes you’ll take care of the transportation yourself or a ride will be provided for you. 

For example, if you wanted to go ziplining at ZipRider at Icy Strait Point in Alaska, you’d arrive at Icy Strait Point and then be driven to the course by one of their tour vans. That trip is 6 miles long, so you’re going to be in the van for at least a couple of minutes. You’re then dropped off at the ZipRider’s top station. 

Other zip line courses require you to walk your way up to the course. Since the layout and surroundings of a zip line course can vary so wildly, we recommend you do some research into the zip line course you’re booking through. If your arrival isn’t clear through their website, then give the company a call and ask where you should go when you get there and how long it will take. 


Unless you booked an exclusive package, then you’ll probably be in a group with other zipliners. You won’t all go ziplining at once, but the group setting makes it easier for the zipline company to accommodate more customers, especially for orientation. 

The orientation part of the tour is among the most important. The zipline crew will inform you of all the parts of the zipline, from the cable you ride down to the trolley you sit in and the brakes you rely on to bring you to a stop.

If the kids’ eyes are glazing over during orientation or they’re spending the entire time on their phone, discourage that behavior. The information they learn here will come in handy when riding soon. 

For example, some zip line courses use active braking, which is something we’ve discussed on the blog recently. Active brakes require the rider to either apply a brake pad at a specific time or to wear a glove and then grab the zip line cable to come to a stop. More zip line companies have switched to passive brakes with magnetic or spring components that stop the rider automatically, yet not all have. 

If the kids don’t pay attention to orientation, then they won’t know how to use their active brakes or the precise time to stop. This can increase their risk of injuries. If your kids get hurt, or even if you and your spouse or partner do, that will put a real damper on your family vacation!

How long does orientation take? That’s at the discretion of the zipline company. If they have a lot of information to go over or if people have questions, then the orientation can take up a big chunk of the zipline tour time. This isn’t a part of the process that should be glossed over though. 


Once you and your group are educated on the basic parts of the zipline, it’s time to put that knowledge to good use through training. The zipline crew will show you the ropes–quite literally, in this case–so you can become familiarized with how everything works. You’re not using the zipline at this point though.

The duration of the training is dependent on the size of the group as well as everyone’s collective or individual comprehension of the concepts learned through orientation. Like orientation, you don’t want to rush through training. The zipline crew is sharing all this pertinent information with you for your safety, so don’t take that for granted. 

Putting on Gear

Next, it’s time to gear up for your zip line ride. The crew will outfit you in your harness, situate you in your trolley, and connect you to the zipline cable. This is among the fastest parts of the process since the zipline crew is very experienced in preparing riders. 


It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for all day. Yes, that’s right, it’s finally time to go ziplining! You’ll get into position on the zipline platform, then, when you’re ready, you’ll step off the platform and begin your ride! 

Gear Removal 

When your exhilarating zip line ride comes to an end, you’ll step off onto the lower of the two platforms. Waiting for you will be a member or two of the zip line crew. They’ll help you take off all your gear. Then your zip line tour is officially over. 

Okay, So How Much Time Do You Actually Ride on the Zip Line? 

Now that you’ve seen the zipline tour broken down like that, it makes more sense where your hour (or 2 or 3 hours) goes. You’re still not clear on how long the ziplining itself lasts though. 

We won’t sugarcoat it: the ziplining portion of your tour is quite short. Using the ZipRider at Icy Strait Point in Alaska as our example once again, they’re very clear that the ride itself is a little over a minute long, maybe a minute and a half. That’s for a zip line course that’s 5,495 feet long.

You might be quite surprised by this information. You hadn’t realized ziplining was so blink-and-you’ll-miss-it. While the ziplining portion of your tour does end quickly, it’s the whole experience that makes a tour worthwhile. 

For instance, at ZipRider, during your 6-mile drive in the van, you’re greeted by stunning views and sometimes even wildlife such as whales in the distance. Other picturesque ziplining locations offer similar incentives. You should drink in the entire experience, from your way up the ziplining course and then all the way to the bottom.

Of course, if a single, minute-long zipline ride just doesn’t cut it for you, you could always find a place like Spencer Valley Zipline in your neck of the woods and book unlimited rides. This way, you and the kids can get your fill!   

Final Thoughts 

A zipline tour is about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, but the amount of time you spend gliding down the zipline cable amounts to roughly a minute. Before all that happens, you need to go through orientation and training and then be hooked up and outfitted for your ride. 

We hope this information makes booking a zipline tour easier for your next vacation! 

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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