Imagine …

Imagine starting your workday amidst the rustling leaves of towering trees, feeling the crisp morning air, and knowing that your office is, quite literally, above ground, nestled among the branches and the clouds. Welcome to the life of a zipline guide, a job that combines the adrenaline of adventure sports with the joy of sharing unforgettable experiences with people from all walks of life. It’s not just a job; it’s a journey into the heart of nature, a pathway to personal growth, and a daily adventure that’s as unpredictable as the wind.

The Call of the Wild

For many, the decision to become a zipline guide stems from a deep-rooted passion for the outdoors and adventure. It’s a path chosen not from necessity but from a desire to escape the conventional 9-to-5 routine. Zipline guides are individuals who have listened to the call of the wild and decided to make the forest their home and the sky their playground.

We interviewed Michael Cellini, the owner of Mountain Ridge Adventure, one of the most popular Treetop Challenge Course & Zipline Parks in upstate NY, to give us a personal perspective on what it is like to be a zipline guide.

A Day in the Life

A typical day for a zipline guide starts early, with the preparation of the gear and the inspection of the ziplines and platforms to ensure everything is in perfect working order. Safety is paramount in this line of work, and a keen eye for detail is essential. 

“Safety inspections are paramount at Mountain Ridge Adventure and all adventure and zipline parks for that matter”, states Michael. “Every cable and every attachment has to be physically touched to check for wear.”

Mountain Ridge Adventure is located about 2 1/2 hours north of NYC close to NY’s capital, Albany. The temperatures can get very cold so the Park is seasonal. 

“In the early and late season of the Park when it is cold, is the least favorite time to be a zipline guide.”, Cellini chuckles. “Inspecting cables with bare fingers takes awhile to get used to. We need to use bare fingers because we are looking for tiny breaks in the line. To get a bit technical, the correct term for the cable we use is aircraft wire rope and is comprised of 133 thin wires interwoven with a load rating of 14,400 lbs. Obviously these cables can hold up a lot of weight with just 2 thin wires of the 133 being able to hold the average person. Over time these thin wires start to break from the wear of the zipline trolleys and friction. Eventually they need to be replaced from this wear or if other circumstances caused any damage.”

Once the equipment checks are complete, it’s time to meet the day’s group of adventurers. 

Participants range from excited children experiencing the thrill of flying for the first time to adventurous seniors ticking items off their bucket lists. Part of the guide’s job is to assess each participant’s comfort and confidence levels, providing reassurance and encouragement as needed. This is where the guide’s interpersonal skills shine, as they transform apprehension into excitement.

The Rush of the Ride

Guiding the zipline experience is about more than just ensuring safety. It’s about creating an atmosphere of fun, excitement, and awe. As participants step off the platform and into the void, the guide’s supportive cheers are often the last push they need to embrace the thrill. Watching someone overcome their fears and embrace the joy of the moment is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.

But it’s not just about watching others; guides get to experience the rush themselves. Regular rides are part of the job, whether it’s demonstrating proper technique or moving between platforms. There’s a unique sense of freedom in zipping through the air, a feeling that never gets old, no matter how many times you’ve done it.

The Unexpected Challenges

Life as a zipline guide is not without its challenges. Weather can be unpredictable, and guides must be prepared to handle everything from sudden rainstorms to high winds. There’s also the physical aspect of the job, which requires stamina and strength to navigate the courses and assist participants. Additionally, every group brings its own dynamics, and managing different personalities and expectations can be as challenging as it is rewarding.

The Bonds That Form

One of the most unexpected joys of being a zipline guide is the relationships that form. Within the span of a few hours, strangers can become friends, bonded by the shared thrill of the experience. Guides often find themselves at the center of these connections, sharing stories, laughs, and sometimes even tears with participants. It’s a unique aspect of the job that many cherish.

The Impact on Personal Growth

Being a zipline guide is not just a job; it’s an opportunity for personal growth. It teaches patience, empathy, and the ability to remain calm under pressure. It also fosters a deep appreciation for the environment and the importance of conservation efforts. Many guides find that the skills and experiences they gain in this role impact their personal lives in profound and unexpected ways.

Cellini says, “Many of our guides start with us while they are still in high school so they don’t really understand the incredible impact being a guide can be on their lives. Here is upstate New York, jobs for young people are somewhat limited. Our zipline park is located relatively close to Lake George, Saratoga Racetrack, Howe Caverns and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. All these venues em young people but none of these venues offer the growth opportunities we offer at Mountain Ridge Adventure being a zipline guide. There is a ton of emotions involved in ziplining and climbing through an aerial treetop course. These emotions give guides the ability to learn how to navigate and interact with people seldom found anywhere else.”

The Call to Adventure

For those feeling the tug of adventure, a job as a zipline guide could be the answer. It’s a chance to break free from the mundane, to embrace the thrill of the outdoors, and to share that passion with others. It’s a job that challenges you physically and mentally, but also rewards you with moments of pure joy and the satisfaction of seeing others achieve something they thought was beyond their reach.


Being a zipline guide is more than just a paycheck; it’s a lifestyle that embraces adventure, nature, and human connection. It offers a unique perspective on life, from the heights of the treetops. For those who choose this path, it’s an opportunity to turn their passion for adventure into a fulfilling dream, making memories not just for themselves but for all those they guide along the way.

In the world of zipline guiding, every day is an adventure, every ride is a story, and every participant is a reminder of the power of stepping out of our comfort zones. So, to all the aspiring guides out there, the forests are calling, and the skies are waiting. Are you ready to answer the call?