Moab Ziplining – Raven’s Rim Zip Line Adventures

For real adventure and the best in ziplining go to Moab, Utah.


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Travelling to the start of the zipline course. Photos by Richard Markosian.

Raven’s Rim Zip Line Adventures is a marvel for the novice zipliner like myself.

I’ve never ziplined. But I’ve certainly benefited from the great modern marvels produced using strong cable. Such as elevators, trams, chairlifts and suspension bridges. Ziplining is more raw and simple.

Ziplining was actually invented for bird watching. The concept is to travel on a cable using just a body harness attached to a small trolley. The trolley can handle extreme amounts of weight and travel at very high speeds safely. It’s essentially a carbon neutral method of travel. The only rule is that point B is lower in elevation than point A. Gravity is doing all the work.

Most ziplining rides are not intended for birdwatching unless the birds were large hawks or condors traveling at high speeds. I find that a zipline ride is a combination of skydive, roller coaster, a base jump and a James Bond trick.

Deciding whether or not I want to try this, with Raven’s Rim Zipline Adventures in Moab, Utah, I witness families of all ages in a semicircle following instructions as they gear up in full-body harnesses and have a helmet, handle bar and trolley attached to their harness in preparation of their zip line adventure. The equipment brings forth feeling of excitement, animosity and intrigue.

To reach the zipline course we hop in side by side UTVs and travel over big rocks and boulders on a very narrow, very steep road. I don’t believe I’ve ever traveled on a more gnarly road. After 20 minutes of dust, rocks, boulders and some local information along the way … we arrive at the first of 6 different ziplines. At 280 feet “Sneak Peek” is the shortest zip line providing a great introduction to zip lining and finishing with “Homerun” the longest zipline at nearly 1,400 feet or roughly a quarter mile.

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View of Moab from the middle of the zipline course.

I find my eyes glued to the rock we will be jumping off and soaring over. I trust that the zipline is well anchored into the rock. As I inspect the course, everything is overbuilt. Still my nerves have the best of me. This has been done by many people, many times, but part of be fails to understand why my feet should leave earth and fly over the canyon below. My feet tell me they are very happy being planted securely on the ground. I’ll need to find some convincing evidence to overrule my feet.

First up is Rick, he has his trolley clicked on the cable. Then he’s given the go ahead. Rick runs then leaps into the air, and zips away… like this is no big deal. Then Rick’s wife and in-laws go. Then nine-year-old Liam goes. Then his twelve-year-old brother John zips down the line. These kids aren’t even scared. I can’t wuss out now.  

zipliner resizedIt’s my turn. For my first leap of faith I feel a fast sensation of freefall. Then I feel the trolley and wire rope softly catch me from a death plunge. The two wheeled trolley whizzes on the compressed steel cable and the harness allows me to rotate as I pick up more and more speed on the descent. I look down and see cacti, juniper trees and boulders flying through my view, “You don’t need to even hold the handle if you don’t want to” I’m informed. I want to, but others like traveling with their arms out and soar like birds.

The next canyon is deeper and longer. The next is longer still. The third canyon is 450 feet long and we traverse most of them lengthwise from one fin to another. The fourth zipline is 1300+ feet, “Holy Zip!” You are zipping along for what seems like minutes of flying. On the final run I begin to really enjoy the flight sensation. The slow up and down of my weight and the smooth zip across, along with my letting go of the handle produces a zen-like peaceful state of mind. The wind resistance and acceleration on the descent as well as the deceleration on the ascent — now I begin to know how a raven must feel. Those black soaring birds are prolific in the canyons in Moab, and this is the closest sensation I’ve felt relating to them.

After the final and longest line “Home Run” the zippers adrenaline, excitement and happiness is tangible! A short walk back to our UTV’s and for the finale, another 4wd trip back down from the ridge to the office where we remove our gear and to end the tour we get cool wet towels with peppermint essential oils… a very nice touch.

Michael and John, our guides, conduct two of these tours in the hot sun per day.  Our tour lasted a total of around three hours. These guides are so pleasant and happy the entire time. “Does the thrill wear out?” “Does ziplining become a ‘been there done that,’ type of activity?” “Does a raven decide to walk rather than fly?” “I can’t wait to go again!”  I’m hooked.MOAB view resized

Raven’s Rim Zipline opened three years ago, making them one of the newer exciting outdoor adventure activities. The land is leased from the Charles Steen family, whom Charles A. Steen is known as the “Uranium King the World.” The Steen’s previous home is now “The Sunset Grill”, a restaurant perched way up on a hill offering great food and a “Million Dollar View.” We zipline several hundred feet higher than the restaurant.

The rest of the group I ziplined with included a mom and dad with their three boys from New Jersey. Why Moab? John tells me, “If you Google outdoor adventure and sports, Moab is at the top of the list!” They have never been to Utah and they spent just a 1/2 day in Salt Lake and went and saw the Great Salt Lake. They flew across the country to enjoy Moab because this place is an outdoor wonderland full of adventure and discovery.

“They have it all here.” A father of three rambunctious boys says he found the perfect trip. He said their stay was, “A great decision.”


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