Ziplining in Wisconsin with Lake Geneva Canopy Tours

| April 11, 2014 More

I used to associate ziplining with New Zealand, Costa Rica, and other “bucket list” destinations for adventure sports. Surprised to learn that you could zip in Lake Geneva, a laid-back resort town near Chicago, I was eager to do it.

My interest in adventure activities began years ago, but I didn’t get to try ziplining or bridge jumping until a trip to Ecuador in 2013. Ever since experiencing that rush of adrenaline, I’d been hoping to visit a place where I could do it again. I thought I’d have to travel great distances for that to happen, until I heard about Lake Geneva Canopy Tours & Outdoor Adventure Center in Wisconsin.

I was a little surprised that you could zipline in Lake Geneva, a charming town about 80 miles northwest of Chicago. Even though it has long been popular with area residents as a year-round leisure destination, it’s known for more low-key attractions. There’s boating, swimming, and hiking, and the downtown area just off the lake features mom-and-pop shops and casual restaurants. Nothing too extreme.

Lake Geneva Canopy Tours (LGCT), located a few miles outside of downtown, offers a range of outdoor activities you might expect in the area (including hiking and biking), but its flagship attraction is the 2.5 hour-long canopy zipline tour. Following an invitation from LGCT, I didn’t let the Midwest winter dissuade me and headed north. I was joined on the adventure by my friend Francesca of The Working Mom’s Travels.

Lake Geneva Canopy Tours

Winter couldn’t stop me and Francesca from trying canopy ziplining!


Our first stop was the welcome center, where the friendly staff handed us waiver forms to sign, weighed each participant (for safety reasons, you must weigh less than 250 lbs to zipline), and directed us across the road to a hilltop garage to meet our guides.

Once there, we were handed equipment, given safety information, and transported in an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) to a ground school for hands-on instructions on a short zipline. The guides showed us the proper position for flying, how and when to break, how to adjust ourselves should we start twisting as we zip, and the so-called rescue technique needed if you come to a stop before reaching the landing spot.

After a trial run, I was ready for the real thing. Francesca was a little less eager to start once she heard that we would not touch the ground again until the end of the tour. The nature of canopy ziplining is that you go from one treetop platform to another and at times you move through the forest canopy via suspension bridges and spiral staircases. But she was a great sport and soon our whole group, which included two other participants, was off to platform one.

Lake Geneva Canopy Tours

Treetop platforms, spiral staircases, suspension bridges – you don’t touch the ground until the end of the tour

I was thrilled to be “zipping around” again, especially on the 841-foot run called The Beast. It’s the second longest line of the eight featured, the longest being a dual racing zipline at the conclusion of the tour. I looked forward to reaching that one (and possibly racing Francesca), but to my disappointment, it didn’t happen.

After completing six runs, I started to feel weak and light-headed, most likely due to the combination of low temperatures and insufficient hydration (lesson learned for next time). The guides encouraged me to sit down and get some rest, then waited patiently to see if the symptoms would pass. One even gave me her hand-warmers.

I was not able to complete the remaining runs, despite best intentions, and had to be “rescued” from the platform. But I was in good hands. An LGCT staff member, who had been radioed by the guides, promptly showed up in the ATV with an emergency kit and ropes. Within a few minutes, I was back on the ground and on the way to the garage for more rest and a glass of water. (Francesca came with, even though I didn’t want her to leave the tour early. Thanks for being a friend!)


I wish I hadn’t fallen ill, but I was still impressed with the tour – the expansive views of the snow-covered forest, sturdy construction of the platforms and walkways, and professionalism of LGCT employees. Since Lake Geneva is an easy day trip from Chicago, perhaps I’ll get to tackle the longest zipline on another occasion. Who wants to race?

canopy tour

I enjoyed ‘flying’ through the forest, despite falling ill towards the end. I’ll have to get to the racing zipline next time…

If you go:

  • Tours are operated year-round, in all weather, with the exception of lightning and high winds
  • Participants must weigh between 70 and 250 lbs and be at least 7 years of age (children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult)
  • You cannot zip if you are pregnant, suffer from a heart condition, have arm/leg/back problems that limit your physical ability, or if you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • A signed Waiver of Release is required
  • Pricing (as of March 2014): $85/adult, optional $9/person for Digital Photo Package
  • The tour lasts approximately 2-2.5 hours. I recommend that you eat a light meal and stay hydrated before ziplining.
  • LGCT also offers team-building activities, high ropes, hiking, and biking.

Getting there and links:

Lake Geneva Canopy Tours & Outdoor Adventure Center
N3219 County Road H
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Phone: (262) 248-9271
Website | Facebook

Thank you to Lake Geneva Canopy Tours for the tour invitation. All opinions expressed in this post are mine. 

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Category: Around Cities


About the Author (Author Profile)

Pola Henderson is a travel writer, city explorer, expat, and event host. Traveling has been a part of her life since she was three. Pola grew up in Krakow, lived in Chicago for many years and is currently based in Paris, where she teaches Business English.

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  1. avatar Aggy says:

    Ziplining is awesome! And this looks like a fun tour, definitely different too.

  2. That sucks you couldn’t complete it. I’ve never done this. I wouldn’t have thought this sort of activity would be near Chicago. I’ve always imagined this existing in jungle locations. Shows what I know.

  3. avatar Agness says:

    I’ve never tried ziplining before, but if I knew I could do that here in China, I would also be eager to give it a go. I would do it in summer though, guess it’s more fun. It’s a bit pricey, but worth the experience!

  4. The two of you look like ziplining models!!! Absolutely beautiful. This looks like so much fun, something I’d absolutely try. :)

  5. avatar Leah says:

    Not only have I not thought about doing ziplining in a place like this, I haven’t thought about ziplining in winter. But why not? I’m game, and it looks like y’all had a blast.

  6. Of course I left with you! I wasn’t going to let you go back on your own, especially feeling ill. It was all good; I still had a lot of fun!

  7. Lake Geneva is such a cool place. I’ve been there many times (not too recently), but didn’t know there were places to zip-line. Would love to do it. I had my first zip-lining experience in Mazatlan last year. Although I was very nervous beforehand, I loved it.

    • Hi Cathy. I’m glad you enjoyed your experience! And agreed, Lake Geneva is a neat place to visit. There’s a store that sells all things French-themed – my kinda place!

  8. The best test for a company is when something goes wrong. Glad to see that the ziplining tour took good care of you when you were’t feeling so great. People often forget to hydrate in the winter, but it is drier in the winter, so it is still possible to dehydrate when being active. I have to force myself to remember to drink water and gatorade when cross-country skiing.

  9. avatar Connie Reed says:

    It seems like zip lines popped up all over the U.S. over the last couple of years. Last year I zip lined in a cavern in Louisville, the only underground zip line tour in the world (as of then anyway). I’m afraid of heights but did it anyway. I freaked out just before the last leg but had no choice but to go through with it at that point.

  10. avatar Jenna says:

    Sounds like fun. I haven’t tried ziplining but would definitely do it someday. Not sure if winter with snow would be my favorite time to do it, though. Sorry to hear you didn’t feel well after a while.

  11. avatar Lucy says:

    I did ziplining in Costa Rica and loved it! Such an exhilarating feeling and a different perspective on the landscape.

  12. avatar Monica Suma says:

    I was about to say. Zipling is usually in other parts of the world! How cool!

  13. avatar Lola DiMarco says:

    What a friend! ;) at least you got to take on the Beast! I would be up for this adrenaline rush!

  14. avatar Charu says:

    That’s a great friend you have there, and glad you did it. You’re braver than I!

  15. Very cool – I didn’t know ziplining was option in the Chicago area!

  16. avatar Elena says:

    I had my first winter zipline experience this year at Big Sky Resort in Montana–was so much fun! We are taking our daughter on her first zipline adventure in June- I am hoping she enjoys it.