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Photo Courtesy of Beech Mountain

High Thrill in the High Country

The thrill of the adventure

By Arielle Patterson, with updates by Julie Matthews
Photo Above Photo Courtesy of Beech Mountain

Alot 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. We dare you to explore the High Country in an extremely different way during your visit.

Ziplining is 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 Zipline offers the longest North Carolina ziplines and one of the best zipline canopy tours in the state. They currently have 20 ziplines 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.

Photo Courtesy of Hawksnest

Sky Valley Zip Tours welcomes thrill-seekers of all ages. Their daytime canopy tour covers 10 ziplines (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 zipline course designed specifically for kids ages 4 and older.

Photo courtesy of Hawksnest

Whitewater Rafting
Not a fan of the air? Experience the water in an action-packed way with whitewater rafting. 

Take one of High Mountain Expeditions whitewater rafting excursions along the scenic waters of Boone, Banner Elk and Watauga. New in spring 2024, Hawksnest also began offering fully guided white water rafting trips on the Watauga and Nolichucky Rivers. 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.

Mountain Biking
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. 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.

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. High Mountain Expeditions takes you on a caving adventure into Worley’s Cave, filled with small openings, underground rivers and more.

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 then rappel down, enjoying the rigorous activity from start to finish. Rappelling can be a hard task that takes skill, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

Winter Sports
The High Country is a year-round destination. If you visit in the spring and summer, return during winter for some of the area’s exciting winter sports. The High Country’s highest peaks get just as much snow annually as upstate New York.

Skiing & Snowboarding
There are several mountains in the area that are perfect for skiing and snowboarding. Whether it’s your first time and you’re interested in learning from a knowledgeable ski school or you’re ready to take on the black-diamond slopes, the High Country’s ski resorts will offer a one-of-a-kind experience.

If skiing isn’t your thing, settle in for an activity that’s just as fun and requires no experience. Snow tubing is the perfect activity that gives the whole family a chance to catch a little air on the snowy slopes. Hawksnest Tubing Park is the largest snow tubing park on the East Coast, featuring over 30 tubing lanes that span 400 to 1,000 feet long.

high country visitors guide cover 2024


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