Niagara Falls is the latest natural wonder to add a zipline, offering honeymooners and everyone else the chance to take a plunge toward churning mist at speeds topping 40mph. The elevated cable rides have evolved from a novel way to explore jungle canopies to almost necessary additions to lure tourists in the 21st century to established destinations. It's a trend that's exposed a rift between those who approach nature like contemplative monks and others who require an Indiana Jones-style experience, reports the AP. "We have to keep the general public—the folks that these places have been set aside for—we have to keep them motivated to get out there," argues the chief experience officer at WildPlay Element Parks, which built the Falls zipline.
Niagara Falls-area resident James Bannister doesn't quite see it that way. To him, the new zip line there amounts to a "circus midway-style attraction." It's as if "the Falls itself wasn't enough of an attraction," he complains. WildPlay's Benson says his four lines angling 2,200 feet along the Canadian side of the gorge were designed to be sensitive to the local environment. Like them or not, the booming popularity of commercial ziplines over the past five years—there are at least 200 in the United States—means more people are experiencing nature in a way that would make Thoreau dizzy. In addition to the Falls, they can now ride above the tree line at New River Gorge in West Virginia, over California's Catalina Island, above lush Hawaiian landscapes, and in view of Denali in Alaska. (Read more ziplines stories.)