Everyone needs a little kick of adrenaline at some point and what better way than to take a zip lining tour that combines learning about Dubuque’s history! Sky Tours is located in Union Park, along John F. Kennedy Road in Dubuque, Iowa. The course consists of 9 zip lines and takes around 2hr 30 to complete!
Disclosure: Thank you to Sky Tours for hosting my tour! As always, opinions are my own!
History of Union Park
Back in the early 1900’s Union Park was an amusement park, constructed by the Union Electric Company. It was home to a wooden rollercoaster, a carousel, a children’s playground, a wading pool, a giant pavilion/dance hall, a bowling alley and a theatre.
The only way into and out of the park was by an electric trolley. The ride in cost 10 cents but the return journey cost 15 cents!
In the summer of 1919, a flash flood tore through the valley, destroying everything in its path and killed 5 people. They tried to rebuild parts of the park, including constructing an olympic sized swimming pool (image below), to try and attract people back. But with the introduction of cars, people no longer had to rely on the electric trollies, they were free to drive wherever they pleased, so the amusement park eventually shut.
In 1946, the YMCA and the Boy Scouts bought the land at Union Park. The Boy Scouts have since moved to a different location and 2011 saw the opening of Sky Tours Zipline, a new attempt at trying to attract customers and put Union Park back on the map!
Video: Tour Highlights
Each tour group is accompanied by 2 guides, ours were Kelley and Jon, who were both lovely, friendly and knowledgable! They are in complete control of your safety while on the course. One will hook you on to the line at the top and the other will help slow you down at the bottom and then unclip you! You just have to sit back and enjoy the ride!
The first 2 lines are shorter and closer to the ground, to give you a little taster and to ease you into zip lining slowly if you are a newbie! The lines get longer, faster and higher! The longest being 800ft, the highest is 70ft in the air and the fastest speed is around 35mph!
‘The Hawks Nest’ seemed to be the only zip line that made members of the group hesitate. You literally step off the edge of a 45ft Lookout Tower in to thin air…all the others start on land or you have a little run up before you reach the edge!
At ‘The Air Strike’ zip line, there’s a little game to play! Each member of the group grabs a Beanie Baby toy (there were no monkeys!!!) and mid way through the ‘flight’ you aim the Beanie Baby at a bucket on the valley floor! All of us missed but the guides keep track of how many times they’ve ‘hit the target’ with little stickers on their helmets!
‘The Dual’ zip line, I feel is the highlight of the course! It’s a racing zip line, 2 zip lines, side by side, reaching 800ft in length! That’s almost the length of 3 football fields! Just for the record, I won 😉 (The lines are ‘gravity fed’ so I think my chub may have pulled me down faster!)
There is a tiny bit of hiking between some of the zip lines so it’s important to wear comfortable, closed toe shoes! Being in the woods, the terrain can get pretty rough and steep in places!
The zip lining season opened at the end of March, with tours running 7 days a week. Bottles of water are included at 2 points in the tour. They also fit in the back of the harness so can be taken on the zip lines!
Monday – Friday: $65
Sat – Sun: $72
11764 John F. Kennedy Road, Dubuque, Iowa
The surrounding area looks like a residential area, but there is a gravel track that goes between the houses towards the woods where Sky Tours is located. There’s a big YMCA sign as well as a green Sky Tours sign.
Disclosure: Thanks again to Sky Tours Zipline for hosting my tour. As always opinions are my own!