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  • River rafting in the mist near Bryson City, North Carolina
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    Starting Point: Bryson City, North Carolina

  • Zip lining in Barnardsville, North Carolina
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    Mountaintop Thrills in Barnardsville, North Carolina

  • Autumn colors around Linn Cove Viaduct along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, North Carolina
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    Zipping Through the Blue Ridge Mountains in Boone, North Carolina

  • B.A.S.E. jumping off New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia
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    Downtown Charm and Gorge Exploring in Fayetteville, West Virginia

  • Summersville Lake, a West Virginia destination for swimming, boating, fishing and relaxing
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    Watery Adventures in Summersville, West Virginia

  • The U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina
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    Final Stop: Charlotte, North Carolina

Thrilling zip-lining adventure near Boone, North Carolina
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Aerial Adventures and Mild to Wild Paddling

  • Route distance:
    1005km
  • Suggested Time:
    6 days

Thrilling experiences await in the majestic mountains

Tap into your sense of adventure while you enjoy the natural beauty of the South through the sky, water and air. Whether it's whitewater rafting, paddling, canoeing, kayaking or zip lining, the South offers some of the best rivers and mountains in the world to explore your adventurous side.

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River rafting in the mist near Bryson City, North Carolina
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Starting Point: Bryson City, North Carolina

Start your journey with a scenic three-hour drive from Charlotte International Airport to Bryson City, a small mountain town with big adventures. The stunning view from the road is only a taste of what’s to come, as this town is best seen by water. Take your pick of outfitters as there are several in town offering water adventures. A good start is a whitewater rafting trip on the Chattooga River, where you can choose your skill level and take on the flowing waters. Your other option is to tackle the French Broad, the world's third oldest river, through the fun Class II, III and IV rapids. Don’t forget to look up; this river is bordered by picturesque mountains. If you’re feeling more bird than fish, enjoy the landscape from 150 meters above the Nantahala River at Nantahala Outdoor Center’s multilevel ropes course. Tackle the 300-meter zip line before taking on the climbing wall and a giant swing. Once you’ve satisfied your sense of adventure, satisfy your appetite at one of two restaurants right on the river. Wave hello to passing kayakers while you enjoy a delicious Southern meal.

2 hours by car
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Zip lining in Barnardsville, North Carolina
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Mountaintop Thrills in Barnardsville, North Carolina

Back on the road, head east to reach Barnardsville, a quiet woodland town deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s only about 32 kilometers outside of the bustling city of Asheville, but Barnardsville feels like another world. Park the car, grab a harness and get ready to dive into the air at Navitat Canopy Adventures. Explore the forests, trees, mountaintops and breeze with the high-flying fun of zip line adventures. During the 3.5-hour Moody Cove Adventure, you'll travel across 10 zip lines ranging from 35 to 335 meters, flying more than 60 meters above the ground as you look out on endless views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Look out for passing birds, as they sometimes fly right alongside you. There aren’t many stops to eat on the drive ahead, so grab a quick bite at one of the local family-run restaurants in town before heading east to your next adventure.

2 hours by car
03
Autumn colors around Linn Cove Viaduct along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, North Carolina
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Zipping Through the Blue Ridge Mountains in Boone, North Carolina

Named after legendary explorer Daniel Boone, this town’s adventurous, outdoorsy spirit is a perfect match for its namesake. A number of local outfitters help you explore the forests and mountains by air with zip line adventures that will have your heart pumping. Near Boone, Hawksnest is known for both winter snow tubing and warm-weather fun like soaring on more than 20 zip lines. Fly 61 meters in the air at upward of 80 kph per hour while taking in 360-degree views of trees, lakes and mountains as you cover a 6.5 km distance. And don’t leave your camera in the car; after zipping around the treetops, snap a few pictures of the stunning views from the observation deck. Aerial thrills aren’t all that Boone offers. Time your travel to arrive on Frist Friday and enjoy an evening stroll through downtown, where live entertainment plays in the streets and art galleries stay open late. On your way out of town, stop in the town of Sugar Grove to refuel and indulge in some home-style Southern cooking.

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3 hours by car
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B.A.S.E. jumping off New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia
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Downtown Charm and Gorge Exploring in Fayetteville, West Virginia

Roll down the window and let your hand rush through the air as you wave goodbye to North Carolina and hello to West Virginia. More adventures await you in the “Mountain State.” At the first stop, Fayetteville, you’ll discover an eclectic mix of vintage shops, exceptional culinary fare and sightseeing tours. Stretch your legs with a stroll through the quaint streets downtown. If you’re traveling with children, they will love a stop at Playetteville in the Town Park. After familiarizing yourself with the area, grab a bite at one of the area restaurants. Look for mountain trout on the menu; it’s a West Virginia favorite. Wind down the day in one of Fayetteville’s historic bed-and-breakfasts in the heart of downtown, or, if you’re missing the mountains, a secluded cabin in the forest. You can’t leave town the next day without visiting the world-famous New River Gorge Bridge. Pack a lunch and some refreshments and take the auto-tour down under the bridge, where you can pull over and have a picnic by the rushing water. The other option is to do the walking tour of the bridge and gorge; it’s a little strenuous, but the views are worth it.

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1 hour by car
05
Summersville Lake, a West Virginia destination for swimming, boating, fishing and relaxing
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Watery Adventures in Summersville, West Virginia

An easy drive northeast takes you to the sandstone cliffs and expansive blue waters of Summersville Lake, West Virginia’s largest lake. Often referred to as the “little Bahamas of the East,” Summersville Lake offers some of the clearest freshwater east of the Mississippi. Get out of the car and back in the rolling rapids amidst stunning natural beauty. Traveling between June and September? Enjoy perfect water temperatures. Every year, thousands of gallons of water from the Summersville Dam transform the Gauley River into the “Beast of the East” and make for a legendary whitewater experience. Take on Class V rapids with names like Pillow Rock, Insignificant, Sweets Falls’ Iron Ring and Lost Paddle. After thrilling escapades, check out the swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving areas. The towering cliffs and boulders surrounding the lake offer more than 100 climbing opportunities for people of all ages. A day at Summersville Lake is the perfect way to relax and refresh for your last leg of the journey.

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4 hours by car
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The U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina
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Final Stop: Charlotte, North Carolina

Round out your trip with a visit to Charlotte, where you can enjoy big-city attractions right next to the great outdoors. Find the famous U.S. National Whitewater Center, where Olympic athletes have been known to train. With an array of activities to choose from, your only problem here will be running out of time. Zip lining, obstacle courses, canyon tours, mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding and whitewater kayaking are just some of the daily adventure options. Back in the city, sample the upscale delights at Charlotte’s downtown, which is known as Uptown. With new restaurants opening all the time, this city’s booming culinary scene will have you hopping from restaurant to restaurant to sample favorite foods. Charlotte is the ultimate outdoor playground of fun to end your trip. Board your flight at Charlotte International Airport and reminisce about your incredible adventures on the plane ride home. 

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The historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge, built in 1849, over the Ohio River
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Destination

Wheeling