How Do You Map A Zip-Line Canopy Tour?

If you’ve never experienced our Zip-Line Canopy Tour before, you really should. It is one of our most popular and thrilling adventures that the whole family can enjoy.

You won’t find another quite like it: Built along the cliff-lines of the New River Gorge National River, this bird’s-eye view of one of our nation’s natural treasures is so unique, it was featured on the Travel Channel this past year. So how do you go about creating a canopy tour map in this kind of terrain? It’s not easy. I’ve been creating maps for more than two decades, and this was one of the most physically demanding maps I have ever done. I already had the basic topography, roads and trails mapped out, but I needed to map the cliff lines, climbing routes and thin wires in the air!

The first day I spent walking what little existing trails there are with my GPS unit, marking points, making notes and sketching out a rough lay of the land on my notepad. It took me several hours of hard, back-breaking work. The cliffs are 70-plus feet high with shear drop-offs. The zip-lines easily float from cliff to cliff — I on the other hand had to climb up and down a 30-degree slope, clinging to roots and rocks, moving from one cliff to another.

The next day I woke up a little sore and worked on the computer all day transferring the GPS data, notes and sketches into a rough map. Tedious work for some, but I love it. Finally, I printed out my rough map and I ran over to ACE to talk to Josh — Josh is our climbing and zip-line canopy tour guru — and I asked him for his input (ouch, total info overload). I left him a little bewildered — how can I get all that information into a digestible format for us common people? It was even more complicated than I thought.

The next day, map in hand, I was back on the cliffs again to start the whole process over. I spent 3 hard days climbing the mountainside, spending long nights on the computer, tweaking the map over and over until I finally got it right. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to get all the climbing routes on the map, there were just too many, so I focused on the canopy tour — I would have to make a real climbing map later.

The final process: getting everyone’s input before releasing it. Another week of comments and input, tweaking and re-tweaking, and I’m finally done!

Or am I? No, not yet. I was recently informed we will be adding more zip-lines to the canopy tour this year! (notice on the map where I added the “future” additions). Oh, well, enjoy this short lived map while I get my hiking boots ready for some more grueling work. I just wish I could create a 3-D map so you guys could really appreciate how awesome this area is.

Stay tuned for my next rendition, or talk to an Adventure Consultant and come check it out in-person.

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