Birds really have it made. They’ve got beaks, feathers, nests—everything an animal could possibly want. Some of them can even fly. I imagine some of them are even smart enough to appreciate the experience: the vistas, the rush of pure air, the graceful weightlessness of flight.
Humans are certainly inclined to appreciate such an activity; unfortunately, no matter how hard we flap our arms, we will never achieve liftoff. But that’s not stopped us from trying to obtain a bird’s eye view.
We climb mountains, fly planes, and around Asheville, we ride ziplines. That is, if you have the gumption for it. Not everyone has a head for heights. Luckily, the zipline industry understands this—ziplines in Asheville tend to cater to the ground-bound among us with no less gusto than they do the high-fliers.
So no matter whether you’re raring to throw yourself off a cliff, or more inclined to appreciate nature at its roots, I invite you to read on, and familiarize yourself with five ziplines in Asheville.
1: French Broad Adventures
Before getting into the meat of this one, I should note that ziplines in Asheville tend to suffer from an unfortunate lack of creativity in terms of names. Usually they go for some combination of “Canopy, Adventure,” and/or “Tours.” Sometimes they throw in “America” for good measure. However, its worth keeping them straight, as their contents are distinguishable.
French Broad Adventures separates itself from the rest through its use of hand breaks on its zipline, as opposed to automatic breaks. The former is proposed to be less physically jarring, making for a smoother flight. It follows that French Broad Adventures has a place among the kid-friendly ziplines in Asheville.
If you seek to imitate the beaver rather than the bird, French Broad Adventures covers that too, in the form of whitewater rafting (for the daring) and calm water floats (for those who just want some rest and relaxation).
Potential French Broad Adventurers are encouraged to book multiple adventures at once for a 10% savings on otherwise mid-to-high priced tickets. They are further encouraged to avoid French Broad Adventure’s Saturday to Sunday rush, unless they want to contend with the adventure of This Zipline’s Busiest Hours.
On the Map: As Einstein taught us, spacetime is quite malleable. Ziplines in Asheville tend to use this fact to somewhat oversell just how close they are to Asheville proper. This sort of thing certainly depends on what side of the city you’re on to begin with, but using the downtown intersection of Patton and College Street for reference, getting to French Broad Adventures takes about a 30 minute drive.
2: Navitat Canopy Adventures
Navitat is the posterchild for ziplines in Asheville, assumable because their name is a tad more unique than all the rest.
Those who which wish to embark on a jaunt above Navitat’s slice of pristine forest shall have to choose between their Treetop Tour—a series of ziplines, bridges, a sprint of rappelling, and incongruously, a spiral staircase—or their Mountain Tour—3 side by side “racing” style ziplines, presumably for challenging your friends and family to an antigravitational competition in the vein of Phantom Menace. Alternatively, one may opt to engage in both tours in a single day with the “Ultimate Adventure Package,” which is just as impressive as it sounds.
For those who’d prefer to take it slow (or are too small to fly just yet), Navitat boasts nature-guides versed in local ecology and history, and RTV Excursions through the grounds you’d view from onboard their ziplines. Personally, I was unaware of what an RTV was prior to my research—as it turns out, they’re like a golf cart, but for serious people. Speaking of seriousness, as Asheville’s premier zipline, Navitat commands serious prices, though they can be cut down somewhat with package deals.
On the Map: Navitat is about 30 minutes out from Asheville’s center. Note that travel distance doesn’t just correlate with the discomforts of driving, but also with the quality of your destination’s surroundings. Along with French Broad Adventures, Navitat strikes a balance between the two.
3: Adventure Center of Asheville
Avian hatchlings cannot fly until they’ve grown up somewhat; ziplines in Asheville often place similar strictures upon human hatchlings. In contrast, Adventure Center of Asheville places its focus on the unfledged, opening its doors to children as young as four years of age.
In a similar line, I’d like to introduce KidZip, who is not in fact an avant-garde pop artist as I initially assumed, but Adventure Center of Asheville’s zipline designed specifically for children ages ten and under.
If one’s younglings are less macaw and more monkey, Adventure Center of Asheville also offers a treetop adventure park, for scrambling, leaping, climbing, etc.
If one wants to avoid heights altogether, one may also ride along a bike park spread across the same environs. As much as Adventure Center of Asheville emphasizes family outings, it also emphasizes economy—its among the least expensive ziplines in Asheville.
On the Map: “Center of Asheville,” is quite suitable for this one. Its close enough to downtown to not warrant any disclaimer on travel time.
4: Adventure America Zipline Canopy Tours
The founders of Adventure America Zipline Canopy Tours knew they needed a name at least five words long—nothing less could contain the power of their ziplines.
An American Zipline Adventure on one of Adventure America’s ziplines lasts nearly three hours, and takes the American Zipline Adventurer across 11 ziplines, 5 skybridges, and 22 acres.
A gasp of amazement would not be misplaced. Furthermore, Adventure America offers educational opportunities pertaining to Western North Carolina’s history and environment.
All in all, Adventure America isn’t a bad place for some research—whether first-hand in a journey across the treetops, or secondhand from an informative Canopy Ranger.
On the Map: Be warned: our wonderful internet presents some inconsistent information on where exactly this zipline lies. By my best estimation, its about one and a half hours away from downtown Asheville. If you find yourself in Tennessee, you’ve gone too far.
5: Nantahala Outdoor Center
Nantahala Outdoor Center is the big time. Declared “One of the Best Outfitters on Earth,” by none less than National Geographic, having it (relatively) nearby makes one proud to be an Ashevillian.
This sprawling establishment offers more than 120 trips, tours, adventures, promenades, and river-drifts through some of the deepest wilderness within Asheville’s sphere of influence. One of these trips happens to be a zipline.
Although when compared to Nantahala’s various other offerings, one may expect this zipline to be a sideshow, Nantahala Outdoor Center’s commitment to serious outdoorsing leaves little doubt as to its quality. Aspiring travelers are advised to avoid the Center’s busiest hours: on weekends, and from 12 to 3 every day.
On the Map: Nantahala Outdoor Center is about as far away from Asheville as Adventure America: one and a half hours. One may argue that such a distance means that Nantahala Outdoor Center isn’t a zipline in Asheville at all—a classic error. As every good Ashevillian knows, all things west of Black Mountain are Asheville. Except for Tennessee.
French Broad Adventures
9800 US-25, Marshall, NC 28753
Navitat Canopy Adventures
242 Poverty Branch Rd, Barnardsville, NC 28709
Adventure Center of Asheville
85 Expo Drive, Asheville, NC 28806
Adventure America Zipline Canopy Torus
10345 US-19, Bryson City, NC 28713
Nantahala Outdoor Center
13077 Highway 19 West, Bryson City, NC 28713