Up in the Air

Take to the skies at these Illinois adventure and climbing hot spots.


If you’re looking for a high-flying adventure, but not yet ready to get on a plane, try these family-friendly climbing and adventure parks. They’re guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush without leaving the state.

Before planning your trip, check the park’s website for updated hours and important COVID-19 protocols and information.

The Forge: Lemont Quarries, Lemont

The largest (and newest!) aerial adventure park in the country sits in the burbs, just 30 miles southwest of Chicago. The Forge opened this summer and features a sprawling outdoor ropes course. Traverse five towers connected by two miles of ziplines, including over-water zips and multiple rappelling stations. Don’t miss the Skyscraper Tower, which offers panoramic views of the Chicago skyline from more than 120 feet in the air.

Little adventurers can explore the kids’ activity area with climbing nets, ziplines and balance beams contained within a safety-netted structure. The park also offers kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, laser tag and augmented reality adventure games.

Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour, Makanda

The state’s first tree-based zip line canopy tour offers a birds-eye view of 83 wooded acres in southern Illinois. Twist across the valley along eight zip lines and three suspension bridges, plus 11 platforms in the treetops where you can almost touch the sky. On the ground, enjoy two different hiking trails and observe the native flora and fauna in this eco-friendly park.

Longhollow Canopy Tours, Galena

The new tree-based challenge course at Longhollow Canopy Tours opened in 2020. Conquer two ziplines, five ladders and two tree houses during this choose-your-own adventure experience: Choose from easy, medium, difficult or extreme challenges as you maneuver the course.

Have a need for speed? Check out the zip line tour, with three lines over 700 feet long where you’ll reach head-spinning speeds up to 40 miles per hour.

Grafton Zipline at Aerie’s Resort, Grafton

Soar above the Mississippi River as you jump from zipline to zipline and move between rope bridges and trails. At 2,000 feet, the Soaring Eagle is the longest line, offering unforgettable views of the valley below.

If ziplines aren’t your thing, book a SkyTour in a gondola. The lift carries you above the bluffs where you’ll have stunning views of the rivers below. If you time your visit, you can even catch one of the most stunning sunsets in the state.


By Lauren Sieben

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