Of all the things to do during a Wisconsin Dells winter, one of the most thrilling-and unique-is ziplining. This terrifically fun mode of locomotion involves strapping into a pulley-affixed harness and whizzing with the pull of gravity along a gently inclined steel cable well off the ground. You may be familiar with images of zipline courses over the rainforests of the tropics, where the unique setup has been used to study treetop organisms and ecological communities.
Outstandingly, the same one-of-a-kind experience can be had right here in the Wisconsin Dells country: Instead of misty rainforest, you cruise over beautiful Central Wisconsin pine-oak woods and lakes, enjoying broad views over the surrounding countryside—along with, of course, the unbeatable thrills of the ride itself. A fast-paced swoop on a zipline—which, depending on where you are in the world, goes by plenty of other monikers, including “flying fox” and “aerial runway”—is as enthralling on a crisp, invigorating winter’s day as in the height of summer.
If you’re intrigued, consider the wintertime offerings of Bigfoot Zipline Tours and Vertical Illusions, two of the Wisconsin Dells area’s premium year-round recreation outfits. Bigfoot Zipline Tours, set at 1550 Wisconsin Dells Parkway near Lake Delton, offers six fun-filled ziplines along the shores and over the waters of Sasquatch Lake. The shortest route is Zipline 4 (“Hi-Ho Silver”), a 462-foot sweep over the northwestern corner of the lake off Bigfoot Island; the longest is Zipline 6 (“Me Tarzan, You Jane”), which glides 1,397 feet from southwest to northeast across the full breadth of the lake, passing over Bigfoot Island as it does.
Vertical Illusions—a company at 933 Highway 12/26 that also specializes in rock-climbing, bicycling, and other adventure sports—provides ecologically oriented zipline tours off the impressive crags of Chimney Rock (also called Friendship Mound) north of Wisconsin Dells. The adventure commences with a hike—or a snowshoe trek, if conditions are truly wintry—up this castellated mound south of Roche-A-Cri. From around 500 feet up—where the vistas are expansive—the participant then sails downslope at speeds approaching 50 miles per hour from tree canopy to tree canopy, passing over rock formations and quiet, serene mixed woods of lofty red pine and oaks. You’ll be upwards of 100 feet or more off the ground, and sailing along cable stretches as long as 1,000 feet. There’s always the chance to spot some of the area’s indigenous wildlife, including white-tailed deer in their thick, gray winter coats.
The knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides at both Bigfoot Zipline Tours and Vertical Illusions ensure your ziplining experience is a completely safe one—and appropriate for kids on up to the older crowd. You’ll get a full orientation to the activity at the start of your adventure. Ziplining isn’t difficult: You’ll quickly learn the “ropes,” so to speak, of controlling your speed and feeling comfortable in the harness.
The experience of rushing through the air at the eye level of the birds manages to be both exhilarating and transportive. Adrenaline junkies will enjoy the speed, the height, and the rush of air; nature lovers will appreciate the top-down views of woods and waters. From the clifftops or towers at the start of ziplines, you’ll get a sense of the lay of the land in our beautiful corner of Wisconsin.
Winter in Wisconsin Dells—when the snow dusts the pinnacles and buttes and the views through the forests open up—is a fantastic time to be out and about. Whether you’re spending most of your Dells visit in the town’s entertainment centers or itching to get outside for some snowy adventures, a few hours on a zipline tour can make the vacation a truly memorable one. Bring the family and get off the ground!