Glamping has soared in popularity over the last few years, bringing a wave of luxe camping destinations to Sonoma County and the surrounding Bay Area, from AutoCamp in Guerneville to Mendocino Grove. A newcomer to this list of glamping spots is Sonoma Zipline Adventures (formerly known as Sonoma Canopy Tours), which has recently upped their game with brand new treehouses.
Located among the redwoods in Occidental, Sonoma Zipline Adventures combines chic above-ground accommodations with an exciting, blood-pumping zipline course. After a tough year with few (good) adrenaline kicks, spending a night among the trees and then flying through the woods sounded like a good and safe way to lift the spirits. It turned out to be one of the most unique and memorable overnight stays I’ve experienced as a travel writer.
Sleeping in the Trees
After driving through Sonoma West County and into the woods, my friend and I arrived at Sonoma Zipline Adventures’ treehouse village — a collection of five green yurts suspended high above ground. The yurts were surrounded by narrow wooden decks and connected by lightly swaying suspension bridges. I was immediately impressed by the meticulous construction of the treehouses, which I later learned were built with the help of the zipline staff (a pretty scary undertaking, judging from this video).
Each treehouse has its own name and theme. Ours was called Ocean, which turned out to be a suitable name as it rocked gently like a cruise ship whenever a staff member walked across our bridge. The interior of the treehouse was cozy and surprisingly large — it fit a queen bed, bunk beds, a small table with chairs, a compost toilet, and a kitchenette area — making it a good size for a couple, small group of friends, or family with children. A giant huggable tree extended right through the middle of the yurt, and while it was a pretty chilly night during our stay, the heater did a good job of keeping us warm.
The treehouse did lack two things: a shower and WiFi. But if you’re going to sleep in a treehouse in the woods, it seems appropriate that you’d use this as an opportunity to unplug. And you certainly don’t need to look your best for the zipline tour — in any case, the helmet will mess up your hair.
After settling into the treehouse, my friend and I did some easy-to-moderate hiking around the 125–acre, heavily forested property and then spent the rest of the evening chatting, stargazing, and playing Jenga.
During our stay, we had two generous meals safely delivered to our treehouse — it was quite impressive to witness how the staff carried these meals across the swaying suspension bridges without dropping anything. Dinner featured a charcuterie plate with bread to start, followed by steak, potatoes, asparagus, and a s’mores-like treat for dessert. The next morning, we received breakfast before our zipline tour, a menagerie of brunch items: eggs, sausage, potatoes, french toast, fruit, and orange juice.
While I’ve stayed at several glamping spots throughout Northern California, this one is definitely the most unique, checking the boxes for childhood nostalgia, natural beauty, and modern-day conveniences. It is also the only one that has included meals.
Flying Through the Trees
After breakfast, we geared up (literally) for our zipline adventure. I’ve been ziplining several times but it was a first for my friend, who was pretty nervous. Luckily, our guides were outgoing and fun, which helped lower her heart rate a little. As part of our tour, called the Tree Tops Tour, we got to learn about the different trees we were ziplining from and between. The Sonoma Treehouse Adventures experience typically also includes a zipline course upon arrival, but the Forest Flight Tour is currently being renovated.
The Tree Tops Tour features seven ziplines in total, including the longest and fastest ziplines at the park. You start small and work your way up to the longest one, which provides scenic views of the canyon. After that, there are some shorter but especially speedy ziplines. It was raining lightly during our experience, but we barely felt it (especially with our masks on, which are required during the pandemic).
This zipline course stood out from others I’ve tried before. In addition to the ziplines, there was a spiral staircase to descend, two sky bridges (suspension bridges) to traverse, and at the very end, a rappel from 45 feet off the ground. Leaving the platform for the rappel was definitely the scariest part of the course but once I was on my way, it was easy, fun, and not too fast.
I had an absolute blast and while my friend felt a little shaky throughout, afterward, she called it “exhilarating” and “freeing,” and added it was something she never thought she would do. It’s the kind of experience that leaves you with a major adrenaline rush and feeling as if you can overcome all of your fears.
Unfortunately, due to the surge in Covid-19 cases, Sonoma Zipline Adventures is planning to close through the beginning of January, but you can still reserve your treehouse for the beginning of 2021. Sonoma Treehouse Adventures costs $550 per person with a minimum of two guests. Additional children and household members are $275 a person with a max occupancy of four.
6250 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental, sonomacanopytours.com