Ziplines are all the rage in Gatlinburg this summer. What could be more fabulous than flying through the crisp mountain air, sweeping through the tree canopy, and enjoying those amazing mountain views while they zip by? Ziplines are an enjoyable adventure that the whole family will love. Several operators are minutes away from Gatlinburg, and a few are right off the Parkway in downtown!
Zipline adventures are usually combined in eco-parks with other activities. Many outfitters offer guided nature walks, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, or similar family-friendly adventures alongside their zip line courses. Since each park is different, you will want to research carefully to find the perfect day trip for your family.
What is a Zip Line Adventure?
A zip line is a course of ropes that connect through a tree canopy going down a mountain slope. Visitors are strapped into a special harness, and they descend the course through a series of guided and controlled drops. Individual ziplines are connected with sky bridges and trails as the route descends the rider through picturesque mountainscapes and treetop views. While some zip line courses are designed for maximum excitement and high speeds, most of them drop at a moderate pace to allow visitors to enjoy their surroundings and time to take in the natural beauty of the mountains and forests. Besides being a lot of fun, a zip line course is a great way to spend a day outdoors enjoying some fresh air. Zipline courses have been made famous by exotic locations like Costa Rica and Hawaii, but they are popular in many mountainous areas, including the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
Ziplines haven’t always been used for fun. Historically, zip lines have been used for many years in remote areas of the Himalayas and the Alps for moving supplies from one location to another. In Costa Rica, zip lines first became popular with research biologists who were studying creatures that lived high in the rainforest canopies.
Zipline courses are made up of multiple zips connected in a path down the slope. As such, every course in every park is different and exciting in its own ways. Each section of zipline ends at a platform, which leads to a trail or a sky bridge and connects to the next zip. Tour guides will be at the beginning and end of each line to perform safety checks and ensure that everyone is enjoying the adventure.
One of the most commonly asked questions about zip lining is, “how do I stop at the end?” There are several systems that operators use, but the most common arresting gear involves a damper spring that absorbs the kinetic energy of the moving rider and brings them safely to a stop. Some lines have extra slack in them, so that gravity will slow the passenger to a stop before the end of the line. There are also some zip lines that give their riders special gloves, which can be used as brakes along the line. If you want to learn more about how zip lines work, check out this great article from How Stuff Works.
Who Can Enjoy Zipping?
Zip lining is not just for kids! Everyone from children to grandparents can enjoy this adventure. Check with your tour operator for restrictions before you book. Most operators restrict by weight. Often children must be a certain age and weight. Riders should usually not exceed 275 pounds. Just like other adventure rides, pregnant women and people with heart conditions are restricted from riding. Anyone who can handle light activity should be able to enjoy zip lining. If you have mobility issues and don’t wish to climb a lot of stairs or march over long bridges, research all the operators and find a single zip line. This can give you a feeling for how fun zip lining can be without being too exhausting. As with any outdoor adventure, be sure to keep hydrated throughout the day.
What Should I Bring to Go Zip Lining?
Many operators require closed toe shoes, so be sure to pack sneakers. Many allow you to bring a camera, but be sure to have a strap for it and use it very carefully. Check with your operator – some parks take professional photos of you and your family enjoying the rides so you can focus on having fun and leave the photography to the professionals. Many parks provide secure lockers so you can store any excess personal items like backpacks and jewelry. You will be most comfortable if dressed for the weather. Remember you will be wearing a harness and safety equipment. Shorts and pants and comfortable shirts are preferred over dresses, skirts, and short shorts. If you have long hair, it should be tied back in a ponytail to keep it out of your face. Some elaborate hairdos might be impacted by the required helmets.
Overcoming a Fear of Heights
Don’t let a fear of heights stop you from enjoying zipping. Zipline parks employ the highest safety measures, and professional staff members are available to help you every step of the way. Remember to take it one step at a time, keep breathing, and focus on the reward. Visualize yourself enjoying the views. Visualize how excited you will be once you have completed the zip line course. Imagine the fun photos you will have to share with your friends! Once you are hooked in and soaring over the trees, most people are able to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Overcoming a fear of heights and riding the zip lines will give you a huge confidence boost and will be an experience you will remember forever.
Zipline Providers Near Gatlinburg, TN
There are tons of zip line providers within a quick drive of Gatlinburg. This list isn’t all-inclusive; instead, these are just a few of the great options you’ll find nearby.
Climb Works features two zip line courses and mountain bike rentals. Their Treetop Zipline Tour lasts two and half hours and features nine separate zip lines and three sky bridges. The Mountaintop Zipline Tour has a higher vantage point from which you can really take in the fresh air and panoramic Smoky Mountain views. Climb Works is located 20 minutes east of Gatlinburg on Highway 321.
Zip Gatlinburg features a nine zip line course through a treetop canopy right off of the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg. The park also has a self-paced 14-element “Tree Trek” course that includes bridges, ladders, sky bridges, and log steps. Zip Gatlinburg is right off the Parkway in downtown, next to the Space Needle.
Fox Fire Mountain Adventure Park
Fox Fire Mountain features several different canopy tours, including the Goliath and the Waterfall Tour. The Goliath is the Smokie’s highest and longest zip line adventure. The 5-line canopy tour features spectacular views and breathtaking thrills. Their Waterfall Canopy Tour features seven separate zip lines and is the only area attraction that features a zip line over a waterfall. The 2-hour tour also features two sky bridges. Fox Fire Mountain has a minimum rider age of seven years old and takes riders weighing from 45 to 265 pounds. In addition to zip lines, the park features the longest swing bridge in the country, and aerial adventure course, and an ATV tour. Fox Fire Mountain is located in Sevierville, just a quick 30-minute drive away from Gatlinburg, TN.
Anakeesta is located in downtown Gatlinburg right on the Parkway. The park features a gondola ride and a long canopy scenic trail made up of 16 bridges. You’ll be able to relax in landscaped gardens and enjoy several dining options. There is an excellent treehouse playground for the kids to burn off energy. Who doesn’t love a perfect treehouse? Uniquely, their treetop zip line adventure features dual lines so that you can zip side-by-side with your family and friends.
How Much Does It Cost to Ride a Zipline?
Zipline adventures in Tennessee usually average between $30 and $80 per person, dependent on the complexity and length of the zip lines. Experiences typically last approximately between thirty minute and two hours, but this varies greatly depending on the length of the course and the way the facility is laid out. Many adventure parks charge admission to the park and have an extra fee for the zip lining course, so be sure to research the exact policy at your chosen destination.
Most zipline facilities combine zip lining with other activities, so an all-day admission will cover games, nature trails, rock walls, and other fun activities. Check with each provider to see what admission covers. Most have set times for each zipline adventure. Be sure to double check your reservation and arrive one hour early in order to find parking, orient yourself, and store your belongings.
Favorite Outdoor Activities in Gatlinburg and Smoky Mountains National Park
Of course, zip lining isn’t the only eco-tourism activity that is popular in Gatlinburg. ATV trails, whitewater rafting, and guided nature trails are all offered by outfitters right in town. If you drive into the park, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, and even overnight backcountry camping are options to get closer to nature. Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular park in the United States. Crisp and clean mountain air, panoramic views, and native Appalachian flora and fauna attract visitors from all over the country. The area is the perfect place to get away from it all and to reconnect with nature.
Gatlinburg Vacation Rentals
Zipline adventures are just one of the many reasons that Gatlinburg makes the perfect destination for a summer getaway. Whether it is a summer family holiday or a romantic weekend in the mountains, the Smokies make the ideal place to experience it all. With fine dining, lively entertainment, outdoor activities galore, and tons of fantastic rental and lodging options, Gatlinburg is America’s vacation hotspot.
There are many lodging options in Gatlinburg, but the most popular by far are cabins and chalets. Available in any size for any size of group, cabin rentals offer the maximum value for privacy and convenience. A cabin allows you to come and go as you please, with your own place to lay your head at night and dream of the adventures to come the following day.
Zipline adventures are popping up all over the Smoky Mountains and have become a favorite way to enjoy the mountain scenery. A popular eco-tourism excursion all over the world, Gatlinburg now joins the ranks as a top zip lining destination. Come experience the thrill of zipping in the Smokies this summer. From a comfortable cabin rentals available from Pioneer Vacation Rentals, you’ll be able to set up a base camp and discover the many ways to spend time outside and reconnect with nature in Gatlinburg. How is your family going to get their outdoor time this year?