Experience the World's Only Underground Zipline Adventure Tour

04/16/2013
Connie Reed

You’re zipping through the dimly lit cavern at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, dangling from a cable, the cavern floor 70 feet below you.  Surprisingly, the anxiety you felt a moment ago, just before you lifted your feet off the platform and began your zip, gives way to a sense of exhilarating freedom as you breeze through the cool dampness of the world below the surface of the earth.  Whether you’re a novice or an experienced zip liner, the MEGA Zips Zip Line Adventure in the Louisville MEGA Cavern is a one-of-a-kind experience that will leave you awestruck. 

If zip lining isn’t for you, but you’d like to tour the MEGA Cavern or plan a student/group trip, you can take a Historic Tram Tour through the cavern instead.  MEGA Cavern experts will educate you throughout the tour on the history and geology of the cavern.  Your guide will point out early cavern formations, you’ll see a replica of the Cuban missile fallout bunker that once existed in the cavern, and much more.

The man-made MEGA Cavern is a former limestone mine, mined from the 1930s to the early 1970s, the limestone used to build bridges, roads and highways throughout the Midwest.  Seventeen miles of passageways run through the 100 acres of the MEGA Cavern, considered the largest building in Kentucky.  About 70 percent of the Louisville Zoo is over the cavern that also runs beneath all ten lanes of a major interstate highway I-264, Watterson Expressway.

Today much of the MEGA Cavern has been converted into warehouses.  Geologists have determined that the cavern can withstand tornado-like winds of up to 260 miles per hours, making the MEGA Cavern warehouses ideal for storage and the safest place in Kentucky.  The government and hospitals both use cavern warehousing space for record safekeeping.

The geology of the cavern and the construction materials used in the warehouses create a green environment.  Motion detector lights have been used in most areas of the cavern, heat from the lights and machines is recycled, and the buildings are heavily insulated.  Inorganic materials used in the warehouse areas to raise the floor level have made the Louisville MEGA Cavern Kentucky’s largest recycler, handling more tonnage than all other recycling centers combined.  Some warehouses have ash buried below them that gives off heat and radiates to warm the concrete in the warehouses. Heaters in each warehouse building dehumidify, but since temperature in the cavern is 58 degrees year-round naturally, less heat is needed during the winter than an above-ground building, and utility costs are 75% to 85% cheaper than a building above ground.

But part of the former mine is being left as is for the zip line tour, with deep caverns and natural limestone walls.  On the tour you would never know that you are so close to businesses and the busyness of the city above.  The caverns look like any natural cavern, sans natural formations like stalactites and stalagmites, which are just beginning to form.

To prepare for the zip line course, you harness up with 7.5 pounds of gear that will keep you securely tethered to steel cables with double clips at all times during your tour.  The zip line course was built to Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) construction standards, and the course and equipment are inspected daily.

Your two guides will orient your group, and you’ll get to start on the “Bunny Zip,” just a few feet off the ground and about 85 feet long, to get the feel for positioning and landing, before you board a tram that will take you deeper into the cavern for more zip lines.  You’ll launch off of wooden platforms that become progressively higher and closer to cliff edge as you move from zip line to zip line, testing your courage and fortitude. You’ll cross suspension bridges three times, balancing on a walking surface about 12 inches wide.  You’ll feel the bounce and sway of the bridges as you cross over deep canyons.  The last zip line is a dual line, with the highest launching platforms of all, and you’ll race a fellow zipper across the canyon to the finish line, once again with a sense of exhilaration as you swoosh through the air for the last time of the tour.

The Louisville MEGA Cavern is located at 1841 Taylor Avenue, Louisville Kentucky, convenient to Interstates I-65 and I-264;  drive time is only 15 minutes from downtown Louisville, 5 minutes from the Louisville International Airport and Kentucky Fair & Expo Center.  Tours are available year-round in all weather, since the cavern is completely indoors.  For tour information or reservations, call (877) 614-6342 or visit the Louisville MEGA Cavern web site at http://www.louisvillemegacavern.com/.

Student/Group Tours are available for both the MEGA Zips and the Historic Tram Tour AND watch for the opening of the Louisville MEGA Cavern’s newest attraction, MEGA Quest, an aerial adventure course scheduled to open late Summer 2013.  Parking is free, and picnic facilities are available.  For group sales information, call (502) 855-3581.

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You’re zipping through the dimly lit cavern at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, dangling from a cable, the cavern floor 70 feet below you.  Surprisingly, the anxiety you felt a moment ago, just before you lifted your feet off the platform and began your zip, gives way to a sense of exhilarating freedom as you breeze through the cool dampness of the world below the surface of the earth.  
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Issue 18.3 | Winter/Spring 2017

Southeast Education Network

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