Our writer savours the Kokanee Mountain Zipline, Nelson’s newest forest-soaring tourist attraction.
As a rock climber I spend a lot of time dangling on ropes and enjoying scenery from up high so I have to admit, I didn’t think the new Kokanee Mountain Zipline near Nelson, BC, was going to be that exciting.
I was wrong.
No matter what thrilling endeavour you’ve done in the Kootenays, nothing totally prepares you for the “wow” factor that is ziplining 90 metres above Kokanee Creek. The views alone are worth the $89 price of admission: the rocky creek far below snakes it’s way through an old growth fir forest while rays of sunlight pierce the clouds and illuminate the west arm of Kootenay Lake so it glows a silvery blue, a perfect contrast to the green mountains above.
Then there’s the excitement of careening down a 760-metre-long steel cable at 90-kilometres an hour! Of course, the company doesn’t push you into the deep end right away – there are six ziplines in total and the first one is tiny (eight-metres high and 25 metres long) so you can get used to the rush of stepping off the wooden platform and entrusting your weight to the harness and pulley system attaching you to the cable.
The second zipline is also mellow and good for easing you in but the third is the real deal: this is your first opportunity to cross the creek on a 350-metre line and enjoy the views from 90 metres in the air. It’s at this one that your grandmother or little nephew might balk. However, they need not fear: the cables are bombproof, the personal safety equipment feels (and is) secure, the guides are professionally trained (and so friendly!) and the braking system is effective yet gentle so you don’t come to a jarring stop at the end of each ride.
From the dismount platform of the third zipline there’s a 500-metre walk through the woods on the mellow “Yeti Trail” (the only hiking required on the course) to access the final three lines, all of which are over 90-metres high and cross the creek. The only downside of these longer cables is, because you travel at higher speeds, it’s hard to take in all the scenery around you. Then again, it’s super fun to careen through the air at speeds you’d normally reserve for the highway.
Brothers Todd and Jay Manton, originally from the Okanagan, spent three years getting all the permits in place, building platforms and installing the cables for this latest family tourist attraction in the Kootenays. They intend to run it each season from May to late September and so far they claim they’ve been busy with about 9 tours of 10 people signing up each day. If you have relatives visiting and think Touchstones Museum might be a bit staid for them, the Kokanee Mountain Zipline might just be the attraction you’re looking for.
Things to Know Before you Go:
Season: Late May to late September
Hours: 9am to 5pm
Weight restriction: 50-275 pounds
Adult cost: $89
Child cost: $79
Time commitment: 2.5 hours
Fitness Level: Must be able to walk 500 metres
Clothing: Sturdy shoes required
Here’s a video of what it’s like to ride the Kokanee Mountain Zipline: