True Nature is an Educational Travel Company which provides full service in the planning, support, and guiding of a diverse catalog of trips to Costa Rica each year. We believe in the power of experiential travel abroad and the multitude of affects it has on ones growth
In addition to spelunking expeditions, Greater Outdoor Adventures’ guides run whitewater-rafting and hiking excursions in the Smokey Mountains area. The instructors are well trained, safety conscious, and capable of handling any diplomatic emergencies that may arise during encounters with the mole people.
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.
People tend to walk slowly across the Mile High Swinging Bridge, though not out of fear. The view is enough to slow anyone's steps. Spanning an 80-foot chasm one mile above sea level, the bridge grants 360-degree views of the mountains, specifically a rugged peak that rises to 5,946 feet: Grandfather Mountain. Recognized by the United Nations as one of the world's most diverse nature preserves, Grandfather Mountain bristles with verdant pines and wild flowers in full bloom, including the pinkshell azalea. The flower only grows in northwest North Carolina, and Grandfather Mountain claims the largest population.
Even on the seven backcountry trails, hikers aren't inclined to move very fast. Up-close views of the area's wild flora and fauna are enough to inspire quiet, peaceful strolls. And on one trail—Grandfather Trail—cables and ladders physically slow hikers as they climb to the mountain's peak. Other trails, meanwhile, wind past the park's seven animal habitats, where the likes of bears, cougars, and bald eagles live in their natural environments with their expert Feng Shui.
Although primarily an outdoor attraction, Grandfather Mountain does encompass a few indoor destinations. The Nature Museum chronicles the mountain's history—which stretches back billions of years to a time when the Earth still wore diapers—with two-dozen exhibits, including Indigenous American artifacts and mineral displays. Luckily, the park's onsite naturalists can help make sense of it all. Before or after exploring the mountain and its past, visitors can fuel up at the onsite restaurant or, if they can't bear to spend time indoors, picnic outside.
Sprawled across 140 acres of mountainous backcountry, more than one mile of steel cable suspends from the trees, forming ten zipline tracks that glide throughout the canopy. On the ground below, a swinging bridge spans the mountainside, and a cliff jump offers an immediate path to the terrain below. To some, this sounds like the set of an action movie, but it’s actually the zipline course at Sky Valley Zip Tours, and it’s open to the public.
The guides at Sky Valley Zip Tours offer outdoor adventures that introduce guests to the thrill of ziplining while also learning about the local flora and fauna. They cap groups at 10 people, led by at least two guides who expertly navigate the tracks, which were professionally designed, constructed, and made safe by Challenge Design Innovations. Trips include all equipment, including helmets, harnesses, and translators to communicate with feral tightrope walkers.
At Huck Finn Rafting Adventures, new and experienced rafters tame the tides of the French Broad River while soaking up the mountain scenery of Pisgah National Forest. Seasoned guides lead explorers on a five-mile float, navigating class II, III, and III+ rapids. Seafarers stop along the two- to three-hour trek to swim, look for mermaids, and snack on crackers, cookies, fresh fruit, and drinks provided by the staff. Adventurers not content to stop at the 5-mile mark may upgrade to a 9-mile jaunt that features two class IV rapids ($12/person).
Balls roll uphill. Surging streaks of water flow upward behind them. People struggling to stand at a 90-degree angle are upright at 45-degrees. Such are the laws of gravity at Mystery Hill's Mystery House, an enigmatic amusement center perched atop a slope that enjoys a stronger-than-average gravitational pull to the north. The same peculiar pull looms over the nearby Mystery Platform, where people standing on the north side always appear larger than those on the south. For more than 50 years, visitors have flocked to the curious hilltop to explore its strange gravitational pull and interact with other science-related exhibits.
Aside from the Mystery House, most of the museum's scientific attractions congregate in The Hall of Mystery, where guests can step inside a giant bubble, flee the chase of their shadow, or learn to beat the moon at rock-paper-scissors. Alternatively, Mystery Hill museums include Appalachian Heritage Museum, which houses antique sewing machines, books, and a list of the personal blog URLs of mountain families from the late 1800s to early 1900s. The Native Artifacts Museum assembles more than 50,000 arrowheads, effigy pipes, awls, and other accouterments culled over 70 years from 23 states.