In the midst of a global pandemic, officials recommend spending more time in the great outdoors, enjoying pleasant days and breathing fresh air. Now, imagine following that advice while soaring above the gorgeous scenery of the High Country, with the summer greenery or autumn foliage rushing by as you approach speeds of 50 miles per hour.

While this unique perspective may sound like something from a dream, a number of zip line tours in the High Country region promises visitors high-speed adventures, safely taking in scenery from above.

Safety is a primary concern at zip line operations in the region, so all participants are required to wear the appropriate harnesses, head protection and supplemental gear while participating on tours. As for the current pandemic, zip line tours are committed to following the required sanitation and personal protection equipment protocols as provided from the local, state and federal authorities.

Several zip lines serve the High Country, including Hawksnest Zipline in Seven Devils, Sky Valley Zip Tours of Blowing Rock, and Boone’s High Gravity Adventures.

 Hawksnest ZiplineHawksnest Zipline offers the largest zip lining facility in the area, with 20 zip lines and four mega zips, ensuring a high adventure zip line canopy tour.

Mega zips at Hawksnest feature trips that travel a distance more than 1,500 feet long and 200 feet high. Zip lines cover more than four miles of terrain and reach speeds up to 50 mph.

“You just can’t just zip line anywhere with this kind of terrain and views,” said Hawksnest President Lenny Cottom.

The most popular tour at Hawksnest, located at 2058 Skyland Drive in Seven Devils, is the Hawk Tour. This is a great experience for first-timers, according to Hawksnest staff. During the 1.5-mile tour, riders will utilize 11 cables and two swinging bridges and venture more than 1,500 feet over woodlands and streams. This tour is $70 per person and has a weight capacity up to 250 pounds for a participant, and lasts between 1.5 and two hours. Riders must be at least five years of age, and riders can possess a waist no greater than 40 inches.

“It’s going to spend more time doing scenic things,” Cottom said. “It’s going to go over the trees, in between the trees and go over lakes and creeks.”

Complementing the Hawk Tour, Hawksnest also offers a slightly longer, nine-cable package called the Eagle Tour. Fly over almost three miles on nine cables on this exhilarating zipline tour featuring cables more than 2,000 feet long. Travel at speeds up to 50 mph over trees and creeks.

The Eagle Tour costs $80, and children must be at least 8 years old to ride. Riders also cannot weigh more than 220 pounds or less than 80 pounds, nor have a waist larger than 40 inches.

“With zip line, you don’t have the roller coaster effect where there’s a big drop,” Cottom said. “You just slide off instead of jumping off and the ground just drops away from you.”

Reservations are required for Hawksnest zip line tours, and guests are asked to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled tour start. Tours take about one and a half to two hours to complete. Staff recommends that riders have some zipline experience before trying the Eagle Tour.

Tours begin at 10 a.m. daily, with tours taking place at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. Early morning tours are available by request and are subject to availability.

For more information on Hawksnest Ziplines, click to www.hawksnestzipline.com or call (828) 963-6561.

 Sky Valley Zip ToursAscending more than 300 feet and covering more than 140 acres, Sky Valley Zip Tours provides some of the most aesthetically satisfying zip line tours that can be found.

With a line traveling more than 1,600 feet, Sky Valley offers a one-of-a-kind adventure that takes guests in and above the trees.

In addition to the nine zip lines offered, Sky Valley, located at 634 Sky Ranch Road in Blowing Rock, offers other activities including cliff jumping, a swinging bridge, waterfalls and more.

“We’re not a huge company compared to some of the big boys out there, but we provide the absolute best experience for a family that’s coming up here to be in the Mountains,” Sky Valley owner/operator Jack Sharp said. “People really get to experience some of that awe that is the Appalachian mountains.”

Currently, all employees and guests are required to wear face coverings while at Sky Valley Zip Tours and throughout their zip line tour due to COVID-19 precautions. Visitors are welcome to provide their own as long as it is compatible with CDC recommendations and the business’s equipment. If a guest don’t bring one, coverings will have them available at their store.

In addition, Sky Valley will be utilizing touch-free/contactless payment options and advanced reservations are required; no paper cash will be exchanged. Paper participant waivers are not currently available for walk-up use. Please have everyone in your group follow the link in your confirmation email. Interested parties can call the office with issues or questions at (828) 264-0002.

Sky Valley has also reduced tour sizes to allow for more social space, and offer private family/travel groups upon request. The business also recommends calling their office for information on booking an exclusive tour.

A three-hour zip tour is available for all persons age 10 and older who weigh between 70 and 250 pounds for a cost of $90, with no refunds for purchases on the day of the tour. Thrill seekers must sign a Participant Agreement form (waiver) before starting the tour, while participants under the age of 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian.

Sky Valley also offer a Night Flight option, where for $75 riders can enjoy a 1.5-hour ride seeing the stars from on high, with the same requirements as the regular zip tour.

Sky Valley requires closed-toed shoes and long hair must be tied back and secured. Zippers must be in reasonably good physical condition and actively participate in the tour, and must be able to hold both hands over their head in order to self-regulate speed and braking. Sky Valley prohibits alcohol and illegal drugs, disorderly and distracting conduct.

All zip line equipment is provided by Sky Valley Zip Tours, free. Equipment includes a full-body harness, helmet, gloves and two trained canopy rangers per group.

Another of the amenities at Sky Valley is the Whistle Pig Kid Zip, which offers two-hour, kid-sized zip lining experiences for youngsters ages 4 and older who are at least 48 inches tall at a cost of $50.

Sky Valley Zip Tours is located at 634 Sky Ranch Road in Blowing Rock. For more information, call (828) 264-0002, or click to e information on Sky Valley Zip Tours, click to www.skyvalleyziptours.com.

 High Gravity AdventuresHigh Gravity Adventures, located between Boone and Blowing Rock at 215 Tweetsie Railroad Road, provides zip liners with a zip line tour and aerial adventure experience.

Featuring three different courses with more than 75 elements, High Gravity Adventures offers something for everyone.

The Blue Ridge Course (for ages 7 and older) has more than 65 high ropes-course type aerial elements including swinging logs, sky bridges, spider’s webs, climbing ladders, rappels,and more. Three levels of difficulty let adventurers mix and match challenges as they go.

The Foothills Course (ages 4 and older) at High Gravity Adventures offers independent and secure adventure climbing exploration. The course is on a single climbing level at up to 15 feet high, with 13 different elements located next to HGA’s observation deck. Parents can watch from the sidelines or join in the fun.

The Ninja Ground Course consists of four ground-based elements (45 degree walls, over-under logs, monkey rings, and an up-down net) set up for two people to race through. All Adventure Park ticket holders get access to the Ninja Ground Course included as part of their Blue Ridge Course or Foothills Course tickets.

Of course, one of the most popular appeals to HGA is its zip lines. Participants young and old must weigh at least 75 pounds to take part in the zip line as it soars through the trees for up to two hours. The tour features multiple zip lines, a sky bridge, and 1,700 feet of zipping. The tour ends at the Dropzone, a thrilling simulated freefall from atop the High Gravity Adventure Park using top-of-the-line technology for a smooth descent and controlled landing, all while remaining securely connected via climbing harness. HGA also offers slower-moving rappel options for the less adventurous.

Zip Line tour groups generally are small, promising less waiting in line, and during the experience, the guides do the braking for the riders.

HGA is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from May 21 to 31; from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 1 through Aug. 22; by reservation only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday from Aug. 23 through Sept. 3. For Labor Day weekend, HGA is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and will be open by reservation only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday, with 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday business hours from Sept. 8 through Oct. 31.

The High Altitude Zip Line Tour is $69 per person for persons age 7 or older, and must weigh between 75 and 265 pounds. Special discounts available in conjunction with Tweetsie Railroad passes and tickets.

As per COVID-19 protocols, All HGA employees and guests will be required to wear face coverings indoors and anytime they are within six feet of another person when outdoors, with the following exceptions:

  • People with a medical or behavioral condition or disability;
  • Children under the age of 5;
  • When actively eating or drinking;
  • A child whose parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place the face covering safely on the child’s face.

Face coverings are mandatory for all guests and guides participating in the High Altitude Zip Line Tour, and guests are free to provide their own face covering, and complimentary face coverings will be available at no additional cost.

For more information on HGA, or to call and book a tour, click to www.highgravityadventures.com or call (828) 266-0176.

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