By Jay Jones, Special to Tribune Newspapers
October 4, 2013
"So who's brave? Who wants to go first?" guide Austyn Martinez asked as a group of helmeted visitors stood near the edge of a cliff overlooking the Shawnee National Forest.
Amanda Stanley, of Carbondale, stepped forward. Moments later, she yelped as her feet left a wooden stand and she soared over a ravine, safely secured to a zip line.
While zip lines have become common across the country, the Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour (635 Robinson Hill Road, Makanda, Ill., 855-386-9477, shawneezip.com) is set apart not only by its stunning setting but also by the fact that there's nothing man-made, other than the lines themselves. Mother Nature provides the rest, as guests spend three hours traversing eight lines.
Fall, with its brilliant palette of colors and cooler-than-summer temperatures, is a good time to enjoy the aerial attraction. That said, owner Marc Miles plans to operate the business, which opened in April, year round.
"Unless there's ice on the line or lightning, we zip. It's really awesome in the rain," he said.
Tours, priced at $85, should be reserved either online or by phone.
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