The idea of holding on to a line of some kind to move quickly has been around for at least 2,000 years. In a sense zipline construction is a very old art, but in the modern era, they are more about entertainment and adventure than simple practical uses. The modern era of ziplines are from the 1970s when researchers used them to study the rainforest canopy in Costa Rica, to avoid disturbing the forest itself. Since then ziplines have become a major means of entertainment, and they keep getting bigger.
As people are likely to do, zipline construction has been taken to new lengths as they try to have the longest, steepest, or most extreme line they possibly can.
According to the Guinness World Records organization, the longest zipline in the world is in the United Arab Emirates. It is 1.7 miles long and was opened in 2018. It is called the Jebel Jais Flight, and people can go up to 90 miles per hour as the go down the line. The Jebel Jais is the tallest mountain in that country. It is longer than the Golden Gate Bridge, and its speed makes it the fastest in the world as well as the longest.
The previous world record, set two years earlier, was a 1.5-mile long ride in Orocovis, Puerto Rico, named “The Monster.” Riders were as much as 1,200 feet above the ground at one point. The people riding it could get up to 50 miles per hour. Both are marvels of zipline construction, and only time will tell how long the next record-breaker will be.
The two mentioned above are continuous lines. The longest zip line in the United States is more a zip line tour that combines some lines and goes 4.6 miles at Hunter Mountain, in the Catskills of New York. Riders are in excess of 500 feet above the ground and go 50 miles per hour at times.
A ride at Hunter Mountain is called the Adventure Tour. The tour goes the full 4.6 miles and takes about three hours. There is also a nighttime version of this tour, which offers a different kind of adventure.
Another very long zip line, that once was a world record, is the Zip Rider at Copper Canyon in Mexico.l It is 8,350 feet long, and riders traverse one of the largest canyons in the world at Parque de Aventura Barrancas del Cobre. Riders go over three canyons, over a local town, and the ride involves a drop of 1,450 feet from beginning to end.
The top zipline systems are impressive, but technology keeps developing. Ziplines could go even further as more technology is invented and innovation is developed. It is only a matter of time before these records fall.