I thought the novelty of ziplining had worn off on me until I went to The Gorge Zipline in Saluda, NC. It’s the fastest and steepest zipline in the United States, and on a recent Hendersonville media tour I experienced exactly how thrilling it was!
The Gorge Zipline traverses the Green River Gorge and drops 1,100 feet in elevation over the course of 11 ziplines, a sky bridge and 3 rappels, and it’s the most exciting zip experience I’ve ever had. Get yourself to North Carolina pronto, folks. It’s worth it!
After a thorough training and practice run, we began our 3 1/2 hour adventure at the first zip line. Fair warning: there’s no easing into the speed at The Gorge and even though I’d been warned that the first run was fast, it nearly took my breath away when I started flying across the cable.
It was absolutely exhilarating!
The first three ziplines feel the fastest, but the longest zips are yet to come… nearly twice as long. If you allow yourself to look around while zipping, you’ll catch stunning views of the mountains and forest as you soar through the canopy.
Because the zipline course is designed for speed, it’s also designed to help you slow down and stop safely, and you don’t need to use your hands for self-braking. Automatic zipstops do the braking for you. If you’ve never experienced zipstops before, they take some getting used to, but they are fabulous!
Unless you weigh 250 pounds, you’ll likely stop a few feet from the platform and need to pull yourself in backwards with a hand-over-hand sloth-like action. The lighter you are, the further from the platform you’ll be, and although it’s not difficult to pull yourself in, you may very well feel it in your upper arm muscles the next day. I sure did!
After zipping a few runs, you’ll cross the swinging bridge. It’s pretty wiggly but you’re safely harnessed the whole time, so don’t worry!
You’ll also be rappelling three times, but if the thought makes you nervous, you need not be. It’s actually more like you’re being lowered to the ground than anything else.
Our group was led by two exceptional guides (Christian and Brett) and they made the experience all the more fun and memorable. They were upbeat, humorous, encouraging and very safety-conscious, and they also shared some fascinating stories about how the zipline was constructed and about the area’s flora and fauna.
If you love adventure, you will love The Gorge Zipline. I promise you!
What you need to know:
No cameras or phones are allowed on the course, but the guides take fantastic photos along the way for you.
Don’t leave anything in your pockets, and leave your car keys in the office. If you drop something, there’s no way to get it back and that’s not a risk worth taking.
Once you’ve finished the aerial course, you’ll take a short hike to the van pick-up spot (water available) where you’ll be transported back to the top. Once there, you can see the photos the guides took, use the restroom, visit the gift shop and be on your way.
The Gorge Zipline is just 20 minutes from Hendersonville, 30 minutes from Asheville, 40 minutes from Greenville, SC and 2 hours from Charlotte. Hours 8am-5pm daily. Address – 166 Honey Bee Drive Saluda, NC 28773