Zip lines have been around in different forms for many years; however, modern canopy tours are most closely related to transportation systems developed by botanists, entomologists, and ecologists studying in the treetops of Central and South American rainforests. Recreational zip lining started in Costa Rica and then spread through Central America. The first US states to get zip lines were Alaska and Hawaii, both of which have outstanding eco-tourism. North Carolina currently has the second most zip line tours after Hawaii. Sky Valley Zip Tours is one of the best, if not the best, canopy tours in North Carolina.
First and foremost, the location is exquisite. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains only three miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Sky Valley is situated between Boone and Blowing Rock, NC. The Appalachians are home to a unique environment. Because the air cools as it rises up the mountains, the Appalachian region receives a large amount of rainfall. With over 55 inches of rain annually, Sky Valley’s canopy tour is entirely within a temperate rainforest. Due to the changing leaves, it’s as though there are two courses in one. The largest influx of tourists visits during the fall when the leaves are their most vibrant, so be sure to book fall tours at least one week in advance. Although colors usually peak in early October, the zipping season extends from April to mid-November.
Sky Valley is on the same property as the now closed Camp Sky Ranch, which was a summer camp for people with mental and physical disabilities. We still do our best to maintain that heritage, welcoming and accommodating people with disabilities for an exciting adventure in a rustic wilderness setting.
Although participants must be in reasonably good physical shape to zip, we regularly host multigenerational crews who complete the course. One family a few years ago brought along four generations aged 10 to 80. Although our guides want all of our visitors to have a good time, which shows on our online Trip Advisor reviews, we always put safety first. We want you and your entire team to have a thoroughly exciting but safe adventure. So don’t worry if this is your first zip experience; we have a comprehensive safety and training program before your first zip and build from very short zips to longer and faster zips as the day goes on.
We have a few restrictions. Participants must be at least 10 years old and over 70 pounds but no more than 250 pounds. Although we have an age floor, we do not have an age ceiling. In 2016 alone, Sky Valley has zipped five people over 80 years old, the oldest being 87. As far as outdoor recreation goes, there is nothing as thrilling and as accessible for multiple generations of family and friends to enjoy as a group.
About the author – Josh Blanco is the Sky Valley Zip Tours Course Manager. For more information, please visit us at skyvalleyziptours.com. You can make reservations online or over the phone at (828) 264-0002. Photo courtesy of Sky Valley Zip Tours.