Today’s canopy zipline craze began in 1974 with Dr. Donald Perry, who received his PHD from UCLA for investigating rain forest canopies. He pioneered an interconnected web of ropes strung between treetops that became the world’s first canopy zipline. It appeared on the covers of the Smithsonian and Scientific American magazines bringing international attention to the canopy and its complex communities of life.The conception and evolution of the canopy zipline has been chronicled in and excellent Tico Times article: Was Recreational Ziplining Really Invented In Costa Rica? Yes, Indeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed.

With a Rolex Award for Enterprise in 1984 and as a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, Dr. Perry’s team developed the first cableway for scientific research of the rain forest canopy.  This system, known as the Automated Web for Canopy Exploration, attracted many tourists who wanted a ride.  After all, it was the most-thrilling rainforest observation vehicle in the world.

To serve growing interest, Perry secured venture capital to develop and build the Rain Forest Aerial Tram in Costa Rica.  The Aerial Tram was the first zero-gauge cableway and the world’s first canopy “ski-lift”.  This system has virtually no impact on nature and it has greatly expanded interest in canopy visitation.