It’s not hard to fill up a wine country itinerary with winery visits and restaurants. After all, the region is filled with stunning vineyards, award-winning restaurants, and ample opportunities for wine tasting.
However, sometimes it’s nice to intersperse the multiple winery visits with some other unique activities that take advantage of the beautiful scenery in the area. For example, I’ve biked around both Napa and Sonoma, which is really fun. Consider taking a hot air balloon ride to take in the panoramic vistas of wine country. Or you can do we what we this last trip - zip line through the redwood forests in Sonoma County.
After two solid days of visiting wineries and eating fabulous wine country food, Bryan and I were ready for something a bit different. We drove up to Sonoma Canopy Tours in Occidental, a tiny town in the northern part of Sonoma County in an area surrounded by redwood trees.
Sonoma Canopy Tours is part of Alliance Redwoods Conference Grounds, a non-profit organization that owns the property and also uses it for hosting retreats, education programs for kids, and other eco or Christian-focused events.
There is a Classic Zip Tour, which takes about 2.5 hours and takes you through 7 zips (the longest being 800 feet reaching speeds of around 35 mph). There is also a nighttime one (which uses the same lines as the Classic Zip), as well as a more advanced Challenger Zip Tour.
Since it was our first time ever zip lining, we decided to go with the classic, which costs $99 a ticket (M-F), or $109 (Sat/Sun). You can optionally purchased a headcam for an additional fee, prices vary depending on the size of the memory card.
The event was very well organized. We had two guides for our team of six people. Our guides Paige and Arianna were extremely friendly, clearly loved what they did, and cheerfully yet carefully walked us through all of the safety training. We all had a chance to practice one “zip” on the ground (they call it “Ground School”) before going high up with the trees. It allowed us to practice our hand braking technique as well as check to make sure our harnesses were really comfortable.
Our guides were awesome. During the zips, they told us really interesting stories about the redwood trees in the forest. We saw the oldest redwood on the property (“Walter”, who is over 800 years old), learned about the history of fires and how they affected the forest, and saw a really cool looking redwood that is now growing slanted yet has adapted by growing a second “tree” out of its roots.
The scenery is breathtaking, and it’s really cool to be so high up in the trees.
We also walked across a couple suspension bridges, climbed a huge circular staircase, and repelled to the ground.
They have a couple cameras on the track, so there’s a chance to purchase photos at the end of the event (sort of like at a roller coaster ride) if you so desire. We purchased four photos ($10 for the first photo, $5 for each subsequent one). I was glad there was an option to have photos taken of us, since it's hard to take photos with smartphones because you have to wear special gloves while zip lining. You can bring cameras, but just make sure they are securely strapped to your body!
I definitely recommend trying this. It has given me a newfound love of zip lining. Now I really want to try the challenger course, or something even higher!
Here's a short, short 2-minute video showing some highlights from my 1.5 hours of footage on my headcam (plus some footage from Bryan's point and shoot camera he brought along).
Sonoma Canopy Tours
6250 Bohemian Highway
Occidental, CA 95465
Disclaimer - I partnered with Sonoma Valley Visitor's Bureau for this series. They helped me set up several of these visits and I did not pay for the experiences that were part of the itinerary, including my cost of zip lining (we did pay for Bryan's ticket). All opinions are my own, and I was not paid to write any of these blog posts.