The new zipline will be on the estate of Charley Steen, the famed uranium king who put Moab on the map in the 1950s. It’s the same property that includes the Sunset Grill, high on the hillside, which used to be the Steen residence overlooking the town. Mark Steen, Charley’s son, has teamed up with locals Mike Bynum and his son Casey to build the zipline. It was Casey’s idea.
"Well my wife and I, Emily, were down in Costa Rica, and as most people do while they're down there, they jump on one of their canopy tours, and we just had a blast. It came out to be a pretty good idea, we thought, to try and put one of these here in Moab."
The Bynums brought in Arial Designs of Seattle to design the course, which will consist of six different ziplines, accessed by a two mile ATV ride.
"The Steen property goes all the way up, over the big G, up on to the top of the slick rock up there. Within 20 minutes people are going to jump in the Polaris Rangers, and drive up the hillside and then start their tour up on top. To be able to have a real fun ATV four wheel drive experience, which so many people come to Moab to do anyway, and then obviously a zipline on top of that. So it’s a little bit of a combo tour."
One of the first things the Bynums learned is that the sag of the cable has a lot to do with the characteristics of the ride.
"So the first zipline’s kind of short, not too fast, and then as you work your way through the course they get a little steeper, and certainly longer and faster. You know by the time you’re at the end of the tour you’re doing a 1200 to 1300 foot zipline."
Because Moab is known as an "adventure town," Bynum believes the zip line will fit right in. The town asked for extra engineering studies, but permits were granted with no opposition. Bynum says to protect the scenery it will be a "minimalist" course.
"All of our posts are as short as possible. Our takeoffs and landings are rock to rock, so there aren’t going to be any big platforms that people are used to when you’re going tree to tree."
The plan is for the ziplines to open to the public in March, and remain open through October.