Ziplines are a relatively new form of outdoor adventure and I thought I would like to add it to my "bucket list." Though the experience may not be for everyone, ziplines are a popular way to see the outdoors and the rich natural diversity of Asheville’s mountainous landscape. The zipline phenomenon is sweeping the globe, yet it is still a relatively new activity for the Asheville area, with the first ziplines built just a couple of years ago.
A zipline canopy tour sends the ‘flyer’ down a secure cable in mid-air above and/or through the treetops safely. The flyer wears a helmet, gloves, and harness and is oriented by an experienced guide. He or she begins and ends on a platform.
The average distance covered while on the zipline can be anywhere from 400 to 1200 feet or more. Flyers have a nice view of the skyline from the treetops and can experience wildlife and natural colors from a bird’s eye viewpoint. The adrenaline rush of flying through the air is enough to inspire some thrill seekers to try a zipline wherever they travel.
An abundance of forests, meadows, rollicking streams and rivers in the Asheville area make the zipline experience especially rich in scenery and natural colors. Though physical health and weight will be a factor in deciding whether to ride a zipline, many zipline tours do not place upper age restrictions on flyers. Weight limitations do apply. In most cases, zipline flyers must weigh 250 pounds or less. All flyers go at their own risk and sign a waiver of liability before engaging in this activity.
Navitat Canopy Adventures, Barnardsville, NC
Michael R. Smith, the founder of ZiplineNirvana.com, cites the Navitat Canopy Adventures as "one of the best in the nation." It is located just a half hour outside of Asheville, in the town of Barnardsville. I decided to test my nerves and fear of height and booked a tour. It was just amazing. The views are breathtaking. You feel very safe, because of all the precautions they take and the abundance of hardwood trees provides a spectacular setting for a zip through a canopy of trees. You start with a short flights of 50 feet so that you will feel comfortable and get the "hang of it". Then it's on to the more adventurous 1,100 feet. In addition to zipping through the trees, visitors can take a walk on the suspension bridge or hiking trails on the property. It was just amazing flying above the tops of the trees and looking out at the mountain range.
Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours
Over an hour south of Asheville, visitors will find the Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours, in the town of Bryson City, in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. Flyers pass through hemlocks and hardwood trees, over flowering shrubs and gurgling streams. Located on 20 acres, and providing 6 aerial bridges as well as hiking trails, this tour can be combined with other activities, such as whitewater rafting.
Adventure American Zipline Canopy Tours
Owned and managed by the same company as Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours, Adventure American Zipline Canopy Tours is the closest to Asheville. It’s located just one mile from Downtown Asheville, behind the Crowne Plaza Resort. Though this Zipline does not offer the deep woods/wilderness experience, flyers get to see some magnificent mountain views. A total of 10 ziplines and three sky bridges allow the visitor to take in the Asheville skyline and landscape, while surrounded by 150 year old oak trees. This zipline is the only one in Asheville that is open year round.
Zipline operators do recommend that flyers be in good physical health before taking a tour. Obesity and some medical conditions can be a barrier to participating. People with the aforementioned issues should consult a physician before engaging in this activity.
For those with yearning for adventure, ziplines are an exciting and memorable recreational activity to engage in while visiting the Asheville area. It is a great family adventure!