Zip Lining in Bootleg Canyon - Or Not...

Clear Coke. A long lifespan for the Hindenburg. Kevin Costner’s British accent in “Prince of Thieves”... just a few examples of things that were not meant to be. Add to this list my trip to Bootleg Canyon in Las Vegas for a fine day of zip lining over the Nevada desert. It began with a stumble, and as the day progressed, turned into a full-out trip down a mountainside - literally!

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The gorgeous desert of Bootleg Canyon, Nevada.

I had been looking forward to this zip line trip for a couple of weeks, ever since I found the website and had booked the adventure over the phone. The videos on the website were spectacular, the runs promised to be long and exhilarating, and the potential for an amazing blog entry through the roof. In my excitement, I had booked the zip line trip for my last day in Las Vegas at 8:00 a.m. so that I could have the rest of the day for a bit more sight-seeing before having to catch my plane later in the evening.

 However, that morning I awoke at 8:17 a.m. (I will never forget the exact time), due to my alarm going off on silent. I am not sure how that happened, seeing as the morning before it had worked perfectly. In a panic, I reached straight for the phone and apologized profusely for not being at the rendez-vous point at the appointed time. The company, Bootleg Canyon Flights, was very understanding and re-booked me for 9:00 a.m. I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off to shower, get ready, and pack up (we had to check out of our hotel room by 11:00 a.m., and I wasn’t going to be back in time for that, so I had to pack up early.) I was down at the Excalibur meeting point by 8:59 a.m., quite proud of myself for being so efficient.

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Outside our hotel / casino, The Excalibur in Las Vegas.

I waited until 9:30 a.m., and in confusion went back up to my hotel room to call the company. The lady on the other end of the line admitted that my driver had been at the hotel at 8:50 a.m., waited about 30 seconds, and then had left. I was frustrated, but since I had missed my first pick-up, agreed to wait until the 10:00 a.m. pick up and go from there. I was starting to get worried about getting back from the zip line adventure in time for my plane.

I was back down at the meeting point by 9:45 a.m., determined to catch the driver in case he was early again. I really wanted to make this zip line thing happen! I waited... and waited... and waited... until about 10:20 a.m. Angry now, I went to go back up to the hotel room to make another call, and found that my cousin had left to check out. I couldn’t find a phone in the lobby anywhere, and the concierge desk had a line-up a mile long. I was getting really desperate and upset now. Finally, I found my cousin, grabbed the key card to the hotel room before she gave it back to reception, and called the company.

 Worried that I wouldn’t get back in time for my flight, I tried to cancel since they had failed to pick me up TWICE. They wouldn’t let me, saying that I needed to cancel 24 hours before the appointment. I argued that if I had known 24 hours ago that they would neglect to pick me up for the trip, I would have cancelled. I argued that they could not force me to pay for a service that they were failing to provide me. After verbally sparring for about ten minutes, the woman promised me that there would be a driver outside the Excalibur in five minutes. I told her if he wasn’t, then I definitely wanted to be refunded, hung up somewhat forcefully, and went downstairs to wait.

Eventually the driver showed up. I sat quietly for the first ten minutes of the drive, allowing myself to fume silently and calm down enough to enjoy the scenery of the Nevada desert. Once on the road, I got excited again about the zip line and decided to forgive the company. After all, I had messed it up originally by missing my first pick-up. (Although, who knows? Maybe the driver hadn’t showed up for that one either!) It would be hard to have a good time if I was determined to be negative the whole day. I chose the higher road.

Excited to FINALLY be on my way to my zipline adventure in the desert!

Upon arrival, I was put in a group with 9 others. We suited up, went through the safety training, and hopped in the van. I rented a chest camera for $25.00 in order to capture my rush down the mountainside. We drove up to the top of the ‘mountain’ on a steep, bumpy road (coming from Canada and its majestic Rockies, I didn’t really consider what I was on a true mountain, but I didn’t want to offend the kind folks of Nevada). The views up top of Vegas, Boulder City, and Lake Mead were spectacular.

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The beauty of the Nevada desert.

We had a quick hike up to the first zip line platform, and then it was time to go! I volunteered to go down first because I’m a keener like that. I was strapped in to my little harness seat, and bobbed about in the strong wind while the tour leader ensured all was safe. The wind was crazy, and I could barely keep straight. Finally, it was time to go down, and I was off with a “1-2-3”, pushed over the edge and into the wild desert beyond. The wind pushed against me with such force that water streamed from my eyes like I was watching “The Notebook”. It even slowed me down before I had a chance to apply my brakes at the end of the run. I loved it, though! It was truly exhilarating.

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Waiting to go down my first run in Bootleg Canyon.

And that one run was the highlight of my day. Upon examining the second run, which went into a gulley that funneled the wind, the tour guide decided it was too windy and dangerous to continue. The wind had pushed the brakes to the very end of the run, and would be at our backs, making us move too fast. There was no doubt we’d be hurt upon hitting the end of the zip line.

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Enjoying my zipline down Bootleg Canyon - it was exhilarating!

As disappointed as I was, I agreed with that - I didn’t want to go back to Canada in leg casts. Unfortunately, because the second platform is in the middle of nowhere, we had to hike for 45 minutes down the mountainside. I was glad I had taken their suggestion and worn proper footwear, for the hike was slippery, steep, and the path littered with sharp rocks and cacti.

Hiking UP the mountain to our first zipline platform.  

I like to hike. It is one of my favorite summer activities, so I actually didn’t mind the hike down. The scenery was nice, the sun hot but the wind cool, and the air fresh. The only thing that really brought me down was the extremely, excruciatingly obnoxious foursome behind me, whining and complaining about the hike, the wind, the abrupt end of their tour, the path, the failure of the company to notify them that weather might cause the tour to be canceled (they had, though), their shoes (they hadn’t worn proper footwear like they’d been told to do), and anything else they could possibly complain about. I asked the tour guide if I could hike on ahead, just so I wouldn’t have to listen to these uppity people gripe about the sun and everything under it. Once they were out of earshot, the hike was much more enjoyable.

Hiking DOWN the mountain after it got too windy to continue.

At the end of it all, things worked out for me. We got all of our money back (so I did get my refund, ironically!), a free video of our one run, and I got two free T-shirts for all of the confusion with the original pick-up issues. I did get to experience the zip line, no matter how briefly, and I respect the company for shutting down the tour before people got hurt.

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Almost at the end of my first run, and unbeknownst to me, my entire zipline day.

I’m not 100% sure that I would go zip lining again with Bootleg Canyon Flights. I might. Things didn’t work out for me this time around, but who is to say that if I tried again, they might not work out perfectly? Some important things I learned about this company are:

1.Be very early for your pick-up, and have their contact information and a phone readily available, seeing as their drivers aren’t 100% reliable.
2.Don’t go on a day with wind. Or rain. The day should be literally perfect to ensure your run will be safe and un-cancelled.
3.The earlier you go, the less people on your tour. Had I made my 8:00 a.m. appointment, I would have been going solo, and not with a group of whiny well-to-dos.
4.Stay positive! The runs are beautiful, the scenery breath-taking, and ultimately, the experience worth a few bumps in the road.

My zipline adventure!


  1. That would have been so fun to do!!! View looks amazing!

  2. The view looks amazing. It would have been a hoot to do that! Next time!

    1. Soooo, we need to do a cousin's trip again. When my wee baby gets old enough to be on its own with Daddy, perhaps? ;)