From northern Greenville County’s highways and backroads, you can catch momentary glimpses of the stunning Blue Ridge backdrop. But when you take a ride on The Gorge’s thrilling zip line in Saluda, NC, you’ll get a whole new perspective of the region’s most beloved mountain range and the town’s breathtaking natural setting.
Every day of the week, The Gorge — located a mere 30-minute drive from downtown Travelers Rest — leads rides on what they bill as the steepest, fastest zip line canopy tour in the U.S., which descends more than 1,100 feet into old-growth forests of western North Carolina.
Adventurers begin by gearing up and getting a quick safety session. Then, they strap in for 11 thrilling zip lines, three rappels, and a traipse over a tottering sky bridge, as the gorge’s namesake Green River rumbles not far in the distance.
Whether you’ve zip lined before or not, The Gorge promises an unprecedented experience. The first few zips let you gain speeds exceeding 35 mph, as you soar over untouched beauty while mountain peaks miles away come into view.
Later zips afford longer rides (for more time to take in the scenery) and take you deeper into the woods. Even if you’re usually afraid of heights, you’ll probably be too distracted by the views to think for a moment about turning back.
Anyone with an interest in plant life will be fascinated by the variety that surrounds you, as you course from platform to platform; you’ll get the chance to admire trees and flowers as you wait for your group members to catch up before the next zip begins.
Huge poplars, oaks, cucumber magnolias, maples, and numerous other tree varieties bloom in spring, and in fall, The Gorge makes a perfect perch for admiring the changing leaf colors all around.
Tour guides can help you identify the plants you’re seeing below and beside you. They also proffer good-natured commentary on getting the most from each zip, with advice on where to look as you glide, how to prepare for braking, and when to just close your eyes and enjoy the breeze on your face.
About midway through, your group will stop on a larger platform for a quick snack and a drink of water. Still ahead are the rappels and the sky bridge. Check your balance, and see if you can walk across the entire way without reaching for the rope rails.
A final test comes at the last moment: Will you ease down to the finish line on the final rappel, or opt instead for the high-powered jolt of the Quick Jump?
Once you reach journey’s end, you’ll head back to the main outpost, where you can purchase the photos and videos that your guides captured during your trip out.
If The Gorge has whet your appetite for adventure, then think about planning your next one with their sister company Green River Adventures, also based in Saluda. Whitewater rafting trips, waterfall rappelling, and stand up paddle boarding are among Green River Adventures’ offerings.
For more information, visit TheGorgeZipLine.com.