Rowing in Johnson City

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River and Earth Adventures stands out from other wilderness outfitters by being completely operated by their own guides. Their fleet of seasoned cave, mountain, and water-navigating guides work in tandem with professional ecologists and geologists, focusing Blue Ridge Mountains excursions on environmental education as well as adventure. During all day trips, guides divulge area history and expound on forest and river ecosystems as well as geology in caves whose interiors rest at 60 degrees year-round to keep them free of snowman hermits.

Each trip also immerses adventurers in athletic activity, whether on hikes to summits and secluded waterfalls, spelunking through electricity-free cave tunnels, or rafting and kayaking down the Watauga River rapids. For those in search of extended excursions, guides lead children's adventure day camps and combination trips that further an environmental focus and bottle-cap collections through river cleanup projects.

1655 Highway 105
Boone,
NC
US

Sheltowee Trace Outfitters’ founder, Rick Egedi, has navigated Kentucky’s waters since 1981. At his adventure center, he and his staff lead guided trips on area rivers, such as the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Canoers, whitewater rafters, and tubers can float through placid, sun-dappled segments or conquer frothing rapids; alternatively, shorter trips ferry adventurers straight to the foot of the Cumberland Falls, where they can feel the waterfall’s spray and see that, despite conspiracy theories, it is not just water descending an escalator.

For landlubbers, the center’s activities range from trips up a climbing wall to geocaching excursions, on which visitors prowl through the surrounding greenery on a tech-savvy scavenger hunt using GPS tracking to turn up hidden caches of trinkets. During multiday outdoor trips, visitors can spend the night in nearby lodgings, such as quaint cabins and campgrounds, rather than sleeping atop nature’s waterbed—the puddle.

2001 Highway 90
Corbin,
KY
US

Beach Island Marina's fleet of houseboats, pontoon boats, and goldfish saddles lets visitors explore Norris Lake's tree-lined waters during single-day outings or extended stays. Back on land and nestled against the forest, wood cabins and RV campsites bring the comforts of home to natural waterfronts. For boat owners, Beach Island Marina also repairs vessels and stows them in 100-foot boat slips. Liven post nautical-navigations at the nearby Bubba Brew's Sports Pub & Grill located next to the marina on Norris Lake. Here, three bars, 25 flat-screen televisions, pool tables, and darts woo revelers who are eager for food, frosty beverages, and pints of pirate lore.

170 Beach Island Rd.
Maynardville,
TN
US

Students at The Rock MMA & Fitness Center get the chance to learn from and train with an undefeated professional boxer, a 10-year jujitsu veteran, and a professional mixed-martial-arts fighter. All accolades just happen to belong to one man, Coach Matt. Joined by wrestling veteran Coach Brian and a team of qualified instructors, Matt teaches a full week of martial-arts classes, such as kickboxing, jujitsu, boxing, and mixed martial arts. He rounds out the schedule with conditioning and fitness-focused training, including a boot camp and hours set aside for open use of any of the gym's equipment.

1459 River Hwy
Mooresville,
NC
US

For years, Captain Sonny Kay plied the waters of the Caribbean in his yacht, the Saltshaker. Then, in 1983, he headed north to Lake Norman to share the joy of boating with others. Over the years, he amassed a fleet of other watercraft, and though he's since retired, Brian and Nichole MacArthur carry on his legacy today at Saltshaker Marine. Depending on the type of aquatic adventure folks are looking for, the duo puts together custom rental packages for pontoons and wave-runners.

398 Stonemarker Rd
Mooresville,
NC
US