Outdoor Adventure in North Carolina

High Thrill in the High Country

Activities for Adventurers and Thrill Seekers

A lot of people look to the High Country as a place to relax and unwind, and it’s certainly an ideal location for kicking back. However, others are born with a yearning for adventure, and it’s these people who look to the High Country as a place to go wild and really let the adrenaline pump through their veins. Whatever you choose to call them—thrill seekers, adrenaline junkies or just plain dare devils—these people seek out a different kind of excursion when they come here. If you’re one of these folks who enjoy living on the edge, pushing the boundaries and laughing in the face of fear, we dare you to explore the High Country in an extremely different way during your visit.

Ziplining in the High Country

Zip lining is a way thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline racing. It’s an adventure that takes you on a journey through the air as you glide across cable wires to your destination. Harnesses are provided for your ultimate safety. Hawksnest Zip Lines offer the longest North Carolina zip lines and one of the best zip line canopy tours in the state. They currently have 20 zip lines that create over four miles of courses with some lines zipping adventurers from 30 to over 200 feet off the ground at speeds of 25–45 miles per hour. Come to Hawksnest to experience the biggest and best—with the most spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Click here for a Hawksnest Zipline coupon.

Sky Valley Zip Tours welcomes thrill-seekers of all ages. Their daytime canopy tour covers 10 zip lines (including the famous Big Mama), over a mile of cable, elevations of up to 300 feet, a cliff jump and 120-foot-long swinging bridge. Their Night Flight tour starts at dark on select weekends and covers the first half of the Canopy Tour. Sky Valley is also home to Whistle Pig Adventure Park, the High Country’s only zip line course designed specifically for kids ages 4 and older.

Click here for a Sky Valley Zip Tours coupon.

High Gravity Adventures is the ultimate zipline tour and aerial family adventure park fun zone with zip, climb and swings for kids, teens and adults. Soar through the trees on their High Altitude Zip Tour, featuring five zip lines, a sky bridge, dual zips and an optional simulated free fall. Pick your challenge at the High Country’s only aerial adventure park, with three high and low climbing courses for all ages and abilities. The Blue Ridge Course, Ninja Ground Course and Kids Foothills Course combined have over 75 elements to test your limits. End your fun with a thrilling ride on the Giant Swing—perfect for the entire family to do together.

Click here for a High Gravity Adventures coupon.

Ropes Courses in the High Country

Those who seek adventure by getting their feet off the ground will also enjoy the experience of a high ropes/adventure course. Navigating through fun and challenging elements made of nets, ropes and cables makes the final ride down the zip line or giant pendulum swing a breathtaking thrill that took a little effort to achieve!

Water Activities in the High Country

Not a fan of the air? Experience the water in an action-packed way with whitewater rafting. Wahoo’s Adventures in Boone is the area’s oldest and finest whitewater rafting company, voted twice as “Outfitter of the Year” by the Professional Paddlesports Association, and they’re nationally acclaimed for safety, cuisine and award-winning service. Experience a truly extreme whitewater adventure on Wilson Creek Gorge, a 2.5-mile run that features Class V Rapids, A+ scenery and the obvious “wow” factor. The boiling hydraulics and powerful rapids will give both seasonal rafters as well as first timers the experience of a lifetime. Ranging from 10-foot waterfalls to an 18-foot stair step drop, this whitewater trip is a must for all you adrenaline junkies.

Image from Wahoo’s Adventure

Wahoo’s also offers other extreme activities such as funyaking, the ideal choice for older children who love riding in these self-bailing rafts, or regular kayaking, an adrenaline adventure for the whole family.

On land or in the water, High Mountain Expeditions has something to offer every type of thrill seeker. Take one of their whitewater rafting excursions along the scenic waters of Boone, Banner Elk and Watauga. For a more relaxing experience on the water, go tubing along the New River. This refreshing activity is a great way to casually float along one of the oldest rivers in the country. Hiking tours are also available, allowing you to traverse the world-renowned Appalachian Trail.

Click here for a High Mountain Expeditions coupon.

Rock Climbing in the High Country

If you’re afraid of heights, take heed to these next two activities! Rock climbing is popular at indoor climbing walls or on actual mountains or cliffs. Experienced climbers can also benefit from gear rentals or the knowledge of a local guide who knows the area.

However, once you’ve reached the top of the mountain, the fun doesn’t stop there. Rappelling is a rock climbing technique where you descend from high points of cliffs and mountains. Typically, a climber will make their way up a mountain and then rappel down, enjoying the rigorous activity from start to finish. The dangerous thrill of maneuvering down a mountain while tied to a rope and harness is sure to leave you breathless and satisfied. Rappelling can be a hard task that takes skill, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it. It’s an exciting way to get over being afraid of heights because what goes up must rappel down!

Cave Adventures in the High Country

The High Country is the perfect place to give spelunking, also known as caving, a try. Grab your hard hats to discover an underground world as you journey through caves and explore an atmosphere that has withstood the hands of time. Spelunking typically entails climbing, crawling and maneuvering your way into spaces and openings.

Mountain Biking in the High Country

Maybe there’s something about dirt and earth hitting your mountain bike that really gets your wheels spinning. Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park in Boone is the best place for exhilarating trails. Since the park’s opening in 2011, new trails and skill areas are being added each season—enough to keep up with even the most daring athletes’ interest. Whether you like cross country biking, trail riding, slopestyle or dirt jumping, mountain biking forces riders to enhance their sense of self-reliance like no other sport! Feel the clean air fill your lungs as you ride and jump down a mountain at speeds others only wish they were brave enough to try.  

High Country Visitors Guide cover 2021