By Tina Swithin
Photo by Chris Leschinsky
While I am not adventurous by nature (or in nature), my husband is a Park Ranger and I am generally outnumbered when it comes to outings with my husband and three step-sons. I recently discovered an adventure that caters to each of our individual interests. Margarita Adventures Zip Lining, in Santa Margarita offers zipping, sipping and my personal favorite, a tour of the beautiful and historic Santa Margarita Ranch which is a California landmark just minutes south of Paso Robles.
The tour began in the quaint hamlet of Santa Margarita where we were met by a very personable guide moments before being whisked off by shuttle through the town and onto the historic ranch. As the shuttle made its way through the property, we were able to view the various wildlife that make their home on the ranch. While we didn’t see bear, mountain lions or boar on this particular trip, we were told that it isn’t that out of the ordinary to view these magnificent creatures during the driving portion of the tour. The history lessons given as the shuttle careened through the property were worth their weight in gold for both the adults and children in the group.
During the fifteen minute ride from Santa Margarita, you could feel the excitement building as our group prepared to embark on the first zipline offered by Margarita Adventures, affectionately known as “The Renegade.” Upon our arrival at the initial platform and staging area, we were equipped with instruction, helmets and harnesses. Children under 70 lbs are able to ride tandem with their parents and the guests who lack an adventurous spirit can opt to stay behind and enjoy additional history lessons before being shuttled to the final landing pads. The group eagerly cheered on each participant as they stepped off the natural hillcrest platform and soared approximately 1,200 feet across an epic grassy valley. To say that the experience was exhilarating would be an understatement as vast as my descent across the expansive valley.
The Five Ziplines at Margarita Adventures are:
·The Renegade: Departing from a looming hillcrest, soar 1,200 feet across a valley and into an awaiting oak forest along a rugged flank of the Santa Lucia Mountains.
·The Woodlander: Next, travel 600 feet over the canopies of native blue and white oak trees before touching down on a steeply pitched mountainside.
·The Hilltopper: For the next 430 feet, guests will emerge from the oaks and digger pines for a fun, fast thrill ride down onto a bare hill with vineyard views.
·The Archway: Next, descend 800 feet back into the forest and under a natural archway of companion oaks before emerging to a wide-open panorama of vines and mountains.
·The Pinot Express: The newest zipline is also the longest, highest and fastest. Soar over a mountainside forest at 125 feet above ground, then swoop right over a Pinot Noir vineyard, traveling a breathtaking total of 1,800 feet.
Margarita Adventure’s five distinct ziplines span more than 4,500 feet and offer a uniquely thrilling perspective on this California landmark. Along the way, we learned about the ranch’s remarkable natural features and its role as part of California's famed Mission Trail. Other highlights of the experience included learning about nature, sustainability, history and my personal favorite, the wine!
·Nature: See the diverse natural environment of Santa Margarita Ranch, which spans five distinct soil types and numerous habitats across more than 12,000 acres.
·Sustainability: Learn about the numerous sustainable practices that are making a difference in the land and what it produces.
·History: From early Native American inhabitants to Spanish padres, Santa Margarita Ranch boasts an illustrious cultural and historical pedigree.
·Wine: Zip over the ranch’s Margarita Vineyard and discover why Sunset Magazine called Paso Robles “the West’s most exciting wine region.”
After the conclusion of this unforgettable adventure, we were able to visit the neighboring tasting room of Ancient Peaks Winery which specializes in artisan wines grown right on the Santa Margarita Ranch. My personal favorite was the 2011 Zinfandel which took the honor of being included in the Top 100 Wines of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle. A full afternoon of zipping and even a little sipping to bring a perfect end to a perfect day! If you aren’t a thrill seeker by nature, the tour alone is worth the trip to Margarita Adventures!
22720 El Camino Real
Santa Margarita, CA 93453
Tina Swithin is an Author and Freelance Journalist for The Huffington Post, Examiner and Bay Area Parent Magazine. Tina is a lifelong resident of the Central Coast and finds great joy in exploring the hidden gems of San Luis Obispo County and beyond. Tina specializes in writing about family adventures, couples getaways and pet friendly locations.