Zip line proposed for Wolcott |

Zip line proposed for Wolcott

Kathy Heicher
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyZip lines, such as the one a businessman hopes to open in Wolcott this summer, are becoming more popular in resort areas.

WOLCOTT ” Summer visitors to the valley could soon have another recreation adventure option. On May 5, the Eagle County Planning Commission will review a proposal for a “zip line” tour course at 4 Eagle Ranch at Wolcott.

Zip lines are an increasingly popular “eco-tourism” attraction, involving a sort of aerial runway system cables and pulleys. Participants wear special harnesses that are clipped onto the line, then are propelled by gravity across the cable.

Valley businessman Charlie Alexander of “Zip Adventures of Vail” is proposing to string a zip line course across the south end of Alkali Creek, near its confluence with the Eagle River. The attraction would operate out of the popular 4 Eagle Ranch, north of Wolcott.

Alexander, who already operates attractions such as miniature golf, climbing walls, trampolines, and bungee jumping at Vail and Beaver Creek, says zip line tours are a growing trend for resort towns. He cites Whistler as an example. Zip lines also have long been popular at Costa Rica and Hawaii, where guests slide amidst the tree canopy, he says.

“Our guests go all over the world. They kind of have an expectancy of ‘why can’t I do that in Vail?'” says Alexander, who has been working on the local zip line tour concept for the past couple of years.

Specifically, he is seeking a special use permit from the county that will allow him to string a series of eight different zip lines across the Alkali Creek drainage. The property is covered under the 4 Eagle Ranch lease and land use permit.

Alexander says the tours will have an ecological tone. During the one-and-a-half hour tour, guests will learn about local geology, watersheds, wildlife and history.

“You have a captive audience, where you get to share information with them about the valley,” he says.

Each cable is capable of holding 24,000 pounds of weight ” about the size of a semi-truck with trailer. “It is all very over-engineered. Safety is a huge concern,” he says.

Guests will be shuttled via van to the starting point from the 4 Eagle Ranch headquarters at Wolcott.

A guide will precede the tourists, in groups of about 12, across the line, then await them on a platform. Zip lines will run about 50 to 75 yards between points. A second guide will follow the last tourist across. Although the details aren’t final, the tour will be in the $95 to $125 range.

“We call it a tour, but at the same time, it is an adventure,” Alexander says.

After consulting with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Alexander has agreed to limit the operation to May 1 through Dec. 1. Wildlife officials were worried the activity would bother a deer herd that travels through the area.

The cables will be taken down for the winter, he said.

Alexander said that if he can win timely approval from the County Planning Commission and county commissioners, he could have the zip line course running daily by July 1.

This story appeared first in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

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