Experiencing the Rainforest Canopy & Zipline in Ketchikan, Alaska

by Janis on March 4, 2016

Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition, Ketchikan, AlaskaThe Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition was of the most exciting adventures that I’ve experienced in Ketchikan, Alaska.

I booked the shore excursion via a Holland America Line 7-Day Glacier Discovery cruise sailing from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia.

on the 4x4 Unimog, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – KetchikanThis zip line and canopy tour is located near the Tongass National Forest, which is a rain forest.  First you transfer from the Ketchikan cruise port about 8 miles to Herring Cove, where everyone boards an all-terrain 4×4 vehicle.

As you would expect, it rains frequently in this environment. We experienced cloudy skies but only a mild drizzle. transport up a steep rainforest hillside to the canopy chalet

The drive to reach the canopy chalet is a bumpy ride up a steep hillside through the rain forest. This forest is home to bald eagles, black bear, and a variety of other wildlife.

Chalet - Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – KetchikanFinally, the vehicle arrives at the canopy chalet that leads to the first zipping platform.

getting outfitted for the Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – KetchikanFirst though, you meet your guides and get outfitted with safety equipment in the chalet. There is also a safety training prior to zipping from the first platform.

harness, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – KetchikanThe harness and guide lines are quite a contraption. This is a much more intense experience that other zip lines such as the Dragon’s Breath zip line on Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s Private Resort in Haiti.

the first zip, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaThe first zip line is actually a test. You have to prove that you are strong enough to slow yourself as you “zip” into each platform.

This rainforest canopy challenge features eight ziplines and three suspension bridges strung over 6,000 feet of high tension cables.

double cables, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaThe guides ease you into the forest canopy along cables ranging from a short 100 feet to the 750 foot pulse pounding “Ben’s Revenge”.

group harnessed to wires, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaEach zip is over a dual-cable ziplines between lofty tree platforms. Participants are divided into small groups with two guides per group. While traversing each zipline, you are connected to the cables at four points with lanyards and trolleys.

zipping one at a time, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, Alaska
Only one person can traverses a zipline at a time.  One guide “zips” to the next platform. Then each person in your group takes their turn sailing between platforms.

zipping fast, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, Alaska

The double cables “droop” as each person speeds over them to the next platform. The more you weigh, the faster you “fly.” To participate, you must weigh between 90 and 250 pounds, and be at least 60 inches tall.

group harnessed to wires, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaWhen all of the guests reach the next platform, the second guide follows. The guides clip your lanyards one at a time at each platform, so that no one is ever un-connected from a cable during the entire adventure.

suspension bridges, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaIn addition to the eight ziplines, the course includes walking over three sky bridges.

suspension bridges, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaYou are still harnessed to a cable over each skybridge, which is comforting, as the bridges do sag and sway as the group walks across them.

suspension bridge, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaIf you are brave enough to look down 135 feet below, you can see breathtaking views of the forest and Eagle Creek below. Some guests see eagles and bears from the tree platforms. I didn’t but perhaps I was a little focused on the task at hand.

taking photos, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaYou can only take photographs from the platforms, and any video and still cameras must be approved and attached by a guide.

zipping, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaYou use both hands in heavy gloves to make each “zip,” so there’s no taking of iPhone selfies en-route. Closed toed shoes are required, and long pants and layered clothing are recommended.

This zipline and canopy adventure does require a high level of fitness, with full use of all limbs required. Pregnant women and guests with injuries/seizure disorders not allowed. Minors must be at least 5 feet tall, and must be accompanied by a “zipping” adult.

great views, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaAs you get closer to the end of the route, the views from the platforms change. Here you get a stunning view of the base camp and the countryside around Ketchikan, Alaska.

viewing tower, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaThe last zip line ends at the viewing tower, which is 55 feet above ground. You climb down these stairs and head to the base camp, where you get to take off all of your harness gear.


base camp, Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition – Ketchikan, AlaskaThe base camp also has a gift shop where you can buy photos of your Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition.

This shore excursion is quite expensive, costing between $179 and $200 per person. But it is a 3.5 hour-long unforgettable, if nerve-racking adventure. Participants who complete the course receive a medal.

Have you participated in the Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Tour in Ketchikan, Alaska? What did you think?

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