Navitat Canopy Adventures - Best SoCal Adrenaline Rush of 2011

Is every cell in your body screaming for a break from the daily grind of city life? Now you can commune with nature while letting out your most tribal screams zipping through the air at 300 feet with Navitat Canopy Adventures.  Think of it as an eco-theme park –  it’s just you and your friends flying fearlessly at speeds up to 55 mph.

Opened July 1st, 2011, Navitat Canopy Adventures' zip line tour is located in the rugged San Gabriel Mountains, only an hour a half drive from Los Angeles – ideal for getting your ya-ya’s out in an easy day trip. 

Wrightwood, CA

“This is a special and spectacular place and we’ve designed a tour to match it,” said CEO and Managing Partner Ken Stamps. “Guests can expect beautiful views, big zip lines and big-time fun.”

Our adventure began in the Navitat Welcome center in the charming town of Wrightwood. Here we geared up with seriously engineered harnesses and helmets and then loaded up in a sleek 1965 Mercedes Unimog truck.


Navitat's 1965 Mercedes Unimog

After riding up the steep terrain of the mountain, a short hike took us to the first warm-up zip line.

Our affable guide from Oregon, Joel Hunt - trained in over 70 hours of canopy safety protocol and natural habitat education - gave us a thorough run-down on proper zip line maneuvering.  This was no rinky-dink zip line that you hoped for dear life that it would hold you. Two skilled guides handle all the clipping and unclipping and each cable is double reinforced with a landing pad on the other side.

Caley Bowman, Navitat Canopy Adventure guide

“Safety is our top priority at Navitat,” said Wrightwood Site Manager and Partner Evan Krogh. “Our guides are trained by industry-certified professionals, and they are required to continually train while they are working here.”

Two easy zip lines in, my fears were in check about rocketing myself through the forest and my trust in Joel and Caley (the other guide who’s husband helped to build the course) established. Although it did take some time to get my ‘tree’ legs as the platforms around the massive Ponderosa pines sway much like being on a boat at sea.

Guide Joel Hunt with a 'zippee' as she gets her 'tree legs'

Don’t look down if you’re feeling dizzy from this. Or... distract yourself by taking in the peculiar butterscotch aroma of the tree’s sap. (Hot tip: My boyfriend hugged the tree a little too much while waiting for his turn to zip and was marinated in the delicious-scented sap. We discovered baby oil does NOT work, but rather try rubbing alcohol to remove the stubborn goo.)

All the cares of world, including vertigo and getting 'sapped', dissipate quickly as you soar through the air, wind in the face, taking in the soothing landscapes of the massive verdant trees, the Mojave Desert and the Sierras in the distance. What a profound way to find perspective in life... trust, jump and zoom!

Facing the fear, ready to jump off the platform

Actually, I found the Navitat Canopy Adventures experience to be a great analogy for life... only the best things in life require total commitment and are scary as hell until you surrender and take the plunge.

In addition to the stunning natural surroundings and life lessons, the course was eco-friendly and thankfully did not detract from the views. The “Stairway to Heaven” - a stairway suspended in air built to connect the zip lines - was an example of this eco-friendly construction.

Stairway to Heaven

Each section of the Navitat course – the sky bridges, trails, zip lines and rappels – was designed with the tree’s preservation being paramount. Many zip lines drill holes in the trees for support, but this kills the tree eventually.

Navitat Canopy Adventures' course was designed and built by Bonsai Design, a company that prides itself on the “Do No Harm, Leave No Trace” motto. The construction is entirely tree-based and uses no poles or other structures to support the platforms and course features.

One of the sky bridges of Navitat's course in San Gabriel Mountains

“We’ve taken great care in creating this course,” said John Walker, NAVITAT partner and president of Bonsai Design Inc. “We’ve used innovative design and installation methods to build a course that fits into this amazing landscape, disturbing it as little as possible.”

After meeting course designer John Walker who happened to be checking the course while we were there, we repelled to ground zero to complete the course.  Each of us had our preferred zip of the ten, but my favorite was the longest one at 1500 feet.

Navitat's longest zip line at 1500 feet

No doubt, Navitat Canopy Adventures is the perfect getaway for anyone who has a daredevil side,  loves the outdoors or is looking to bond with their family or co-workers. 

And what urbanite doesn’t need 3 ½ hours of pure adrenaline, unpolluted oxygen and tree hugging to recharge and refocus?

Navitat Canopy Adventures tours run daily, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Nov. 30. Reservations  required. $109 per adult, $99 per youth - weight restrictions apply. Tours 3 ½ to 4 hours.

Visit Navitat Canopy Adventures to book your tour.

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