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National Parks

Visitor Activity Guidelines

Guided Interpreted Canopy Walks, Zip Lines, Via Ferrata and Aerial Parks

Printable Version (PDF, 157 Kb)

Date of Approval: May 2010

Description of Activity

Canopy Walks: Involve participants traversing elevated walkways and suspended bridges built in the upper canopy of a forested environment.

Zip Lines: An activity where participants travel between two points along a steel cable, via the force of gravity. Participants wear a harness attached to a pulley or trolley, which travels along the cable. Many canopy tours include zip line components.

Via Ferrata: A mountain route/rock face that is permanently equipped with fixed cables and metal rungs, and may also include ladders, steps and bridges. Climbers wear a harness and remain attached to a cable at all times while making their way up the route.

Aerial Parks: A concentration of elevated paths that progress though various obstacles and are equipped with ropes, ladders, suspended bridges, zip lines and via ferrata components.

For consistency the following statement will be used to describe the activity:

Guided Interpreted Tours including Canopy Walks, Zip Lines, Via Ferrata, and Aerial Park elements

National Direction

These activities were evaluated as a group of activities because of their use of the same equipment and safety gear, and because they are often provided in combination as part of an experience.

Parks Canada approves guided interpreted tours including canopy walks, zip lines, via ferrata and aerial park elements at the national level in accordance to the following national guidelines.

While this activity has been approved at the national level, it may not be approved at all Parks Canada locations. In places where this activity is approved, additional guidelines may be created in order to meet location-specific needs.

Activity Guidelines

General Conditions

  • These activities must be offered as guided interpreted tours.
    • Zip lines must be integrated into a tour rather than be an activity in itself.
  • Management of guided interpreted tours including these elements will preferably be assumed by a third party, who must obtain appropriate permits and licenses, and adequate liability insurance.
  • Commercial operators offering guided interpreted tours including these elements will be well versed in Parks Canada’s mandate and will provide interpretive messages to participants.
  • Design, construction and operation must adhere to applicable industry standards and codes as necessary.
  • Canopy walks, zip lines and aerial park infrastructure will be built so that it can be removed and the site returned to its natural state.
  • Infrastructure will blend with the environment and take advantage of existing landscape and topography to encourage authentic connection to the landscape.
  • Resource inventories, assessments and ongoing monitoring will inform the site selection and ongoing management as necessary.
  • Safety, risk and liability will be considered during the local assessment and throughout the ongoing management of guided interpreted tours including these elements.
  • Access to these tours must be controlled.
    • Via ferrata elements can be considered outside of a guided interpreted and controlled tour in remote backcountry areas accessible only by experienced climbers.

Special Thanks

Parks Canada wishes to thank everyone who participated in the consultation to develop these guidelines.

These guidelines are subject to change in response to future market trends and to the evolution of technical elements related to the activities.


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