Historic Banning Mills’ canopy tours now has more than 60 lines and 46 sky bridges. In addition to the famous Adventure Tower for climbing and rappel activities and their famous zip lines, there are a wide variety of additional activities offered by Historic Banning Mills Adventure Park, also a conservancy. There are more than seven and a half miles of canopy zip line tours, including team building and GPS Trek courses; an aerial challenge course called the Terminator; and a 100 foot power free fall. Those looking for a weekend getaway can also enjoy the many additional outdoor activities and lodging options at Banning Mills, including live bird of prey shows, kayaking and horseback riding.
Banning Mills Zip Lines
About and hour outside of Atlanta, past the world’s largest mailbox on Ga. 5, is Historic Banning Mills, one of the most adventurous places to go zip lining in Ga. This eco-canopy adventure has course names and thrills that make the rollercoasters at the Six Flags theme park you pass on I-20 look like kiddie rides. So let the adventure begin.
There are several canopy zip line tours near Atlanta like North Georgia Canopy Tours, but Banning Mills zipline are the oldest, and the highest. According to their literature they are also the fastest, and the longest zipline in the world. Although they do have an introductory course, this facility is better appreciated by the fit, thrill seeker than the novice. In my opinion, it is the most adventurous place to go ziplining in Georgia.
Children must be at least 8 years old and 50 pounds to do the Forest Tour and 90 pounds for all other tours. There is a maximum weight limit of 250 for women and 285 for men. Participants must also be able to climb two 65 ft towers and possibly a 150 ft tower. Did I mention these tours aren’t for the faint of heart? (See below for options for your younger kiddos!)
If you’re still reading, then I’m guessing you’ll love the thrills at Banning Mills Ga. I know I did. After a brief ground school, we set off across a skybridge to our first tower. All zip lines at Banning Mills start and end at the Conference Center. A nice touch when you’ve been climbing, swinging and exerting yourself all day.
The Forest Tour and new Woodland Tour are level 1 courses and made for first time zippers and families. The weight limit is 50 lbs and minimum age is 8 years old. This is a great way to get used to the height and zipping. A few of the later zips require breaking, and guides are always available to help. Even this tour requires lots of stair climbing and a basic level of fitness is needed to enjoy the adventure. For veteran zippers, this is a tame course, the real fun comes at the higher levels. If your family has master this course and doesn’t want to quit, you can upgrade on the spot to the next level.
Advanced Courses at Banning Mills Zip Line Georgia
As you move up the levels, the length of the zips and the height increases. What I like best is the addition of sky bridge obstacles that require more exertion than just riding down a screaming zip line. Each level includes the previous tours, so Level 3 includes the elements of Level 1 and 2. Children must be at least 10 years old and 90 lbs to attempt courses two and up. If older children want to move on, there are other activities for younger kids including a Birds of Prey Show, hiking, and horseback riding. (Note: Plan ahead for these activities. The Birds of Prey show is usually in the morning and horseback riding must be reserved.)
The Level four tour is the most exciting and includes all the previous courses (excluding the 900Ft Swoop line along the Snake Creek). The Sky Trek Bridge is one of my favorite elements. It’s 600 feet long, and 190 feet high over the gorge, with fantastic views of the river below. This tour also includes climbing the equivalent of a 30-story building then stepping off to zip down the Screaming Eagle zip line for half a mile. For true adrenaline junkies, Banning Mills offers the All Day Rush, allowing guests to climb and zip for 8 hours straight. Lunch is included as is the Aerial Adventure Challenge Park.
Aerial Adventure Challenge Park at Historic Banning Mills (A Zip Add On)
The Aerial Adventure Challenge is a zip into a series of extreme challenge elements 80 ft in the air. This park can be added to the level two and up courses. I truly enjoyed the addition of the rope challenges to break up the zip experiences. The elements weren’t always easy, in one there is a tree running right through the middle of the path, but it lots of fun to push yourself in different ways.
More than zip lines
Ask the kids what their second favorite adventure was at Historic Banning Mills, and they will tell you the pool…or the suspension bridge…or hiking to the ruins…. The point is, the zip line is THRILLING but there is more to do than zip.
Try swimming in the full size pool, playing horseshoes or trying for a hole-in-one at mini golf. If your littles love falcons then be sure to plan your adventure during the Birds of Prey show. If your kids are a little older than my 3 year old, you can also enjoy even more. A 7-mile and 14-mile kayak trip along the Chattahoochee looked amazing! Kids must be at least 7 years old (9 years old if they want a single kayak.) Several years ago our oldest kids rode horses through the trails and had a great time.
Here’s the scoop from Sue Rodman on several other Banning Mills adventures:
Power Free Fall
Designed by German engineers to get people safely out of burning buildings, this is not a bungee jump, but a controlled free fall 100 feet down or 10 stories. In an effort to work off a little of the amazing lunch served at Banning Mills, I climbed the staircases to check it out. After about 10 minutes staring down and a few false starts, I eventually took the plunge. It’s hard to explain the feeling. I spend the free fall portion staring ahead and cursing my stupidity, but then I felt the line go taught and glided to the ground. The fall wasn’t jerky and I never lost my stomach like you do on the free fall at Six Flags.
Banning Mills holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest free standing climing wall and adventure tower in the world. At 140 ft (or 14 stories) it has nine climbing lanes and two rappel walls.
Birds of Prey Show
Although we didn’t see the actual Birds of Prey show, we met Master Falconer Dale Arrowood and his winged ambassadors and got an up-close look at his feathered stars including Czar the Eagle Owl, a barn owl and buzzard. Birds of Prey have always been a favorite of my middle son and it’s a great show for the whole family. Plus getting to see these birds up close in a real treat.
Can I Take My Younger Kids?
But let’s be honest for a moment…will this sort of vacation really work with young kids? YES! We did it, and here are three reasons why we think you should, too!
Crazy Squirrel Village
Crazy Squirrel Village introduces kids 4+ years old to zip lining. This was my son’s very first time, and I could not have asked for anything better. Honestly, seeing him grow in confidence and excitement on this course was my favorite part of the entire weekend.
Atlanta offers a number of ropes courses for kids, but this was true zip lining. With gloves, helmet and gear, he was anchored into the closed belay system. (Side note– this is the same belay system used on Screaming Eagle. It’s the only zip line tour with this safety feature from beginning to end.)
We followed a guide through the course of five zip lines and six aerial elements; first Cooper and then me. After we completed the Level 1 course (about 45 minutes,) the guide jumped off and Cooper and I did it again ourselves, with me in the lead this time, to catch him at the end of each zip. The guide was around while we went a second time, but it was very exciting to be running through at our own pace, together.
Kids 9+ years old who can reach 44 inches can do Level 1 themselves. Level 2 is available to kids who are 9+ years old. Level two includes 4 additional zip lines and 35 different aerial elements.
I just loved the look on Cooper’s face when he finished! He was so happy! Even if you can’t make a vacation out of Banning Mills, it’s worth a drive for the day just to let the young ones try the Crazy Squirrel.
Lodging options are family-friendly
There are several lodging options on site. The Countryside Inn offers 52 rooms, there are also Creekside Overlook rooms, Pine Log Cabin rooms and Economy Lodge Rooms. They are all nice, of course, but for families I recommend the Cozy Efficiency Cottages or the Full Size Rustic Cabins.
We stayed in a full size cabin, which also included a full kitchen, four beds, two bathrooms and plenty of space to spread out. It overlooked Snake Creek, with easy access to the suspension bridge leading to the main building.
Many, but not all lodging options come with a full hot breakfast. It was delicious- scrambled eggs, bacon, yogurt, biscuits, muffins and more. It’s served in the main building and is lovely to eat while watching people prepare to take their turn on the zip line.
There isn’t a walk-in restaurant here, but you can a picnic-style basket or enjoy hot dogs in the lodge for lunch. For dinner, you can “tag on” to a group dinner buffet if you inquire about it ahead of time. We enjoyed delicious BBQ chicken from the on-site chef.
Another fun option? Sleep in the trees! Banning Mills has found a way for guests to branch out with accommodations by adding comfortable stand alone tree house lodging. The tree house suites include a king bed, jetted tub, bathroom and panoramic forest views with rope bridge access. The tree house village rooms are best for couples, so why not make it an adventurous date night weekend??
We had such a fun weekend! I recommend you make it a priority.
Read more about how to Stay, Play and Eat at Historic Banning Mills over at Explore Georgia.
Disclosure: Thank you to Historic Banning Mills for hosting my family and me for a fun weekend adventure of ziplinging and exploring. Opinions here are all my own! #keepingitreal