Staff Size: 2–10 people
Average Duration of Services: 30 Minutes or Less
Brands Used: Flytec, Northwing
Pro Tip: Call ahead. Dress in comfortable layers, bring sun protection and a friend to share the experience.
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Experience the magic of free flight.
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
What is the one feature of your business that you're most proud of?
To be able to share the experience of free flight
What is the experience customers can expect, and how do you make it special?
At Thermal Valley, you will fly with an experienced Hang gliding instructor dedicated to making your free flight experience one you will remember for a life time.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Sharing the joys and wonder of free flight while flying among breath taking scenery of the North Carolina Mountains
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
For more fun, take an introductory flight in our tow plane (The Dragonfly).
The Appalachian Mountains surround Red Hen Reserve and Hunting Club, giving the locale an untouched, rugged ambiance. Here, clay pigeons fly deep into the forest, and visitors hone their shooting skills during open practice or more formal gun safety courses. It's certainly a picturesque setting—so much so that in addition to shotgun sports, Red Hen often hosts weddings and special events.
Like green spokes, the fairways of Mimosa Hills Golf and Country Club spread radially from a gleaming white clubhouse—the course's stately and welcoming hub. The layout is the work of the famous Donald Ross, one of the few course architects to achieve something approaching household-name status. His magnum opus, Pinehurst No. 2, had already been around for a good 30 years before he started in on Mimosa Hills in 1929. The architect was drawn to the site's natural layout as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains skyline that rises up dramatically above the treetops. Much like Pinehurst, the course has survived the test of time: the North Carolina Golf Panel—an association of industry professionals and critics—placed the course 69th on its 2009 list of the top 100 courses in the state.
Horses may spend most of their day standing, but at Mimosa Hills Farm, they rarely just stand around. Crosby, the farm's owner, keeps the steeds constantly occupied, making them available casual trail rides across the farm as well as regular riding and driving lessons. But just as with a ten-gallon hat with a built-in spigot never loses its usefulness, the mounts' duties extend beyond the saddle. They also help teach husbandry lessons during educational farm days and provide the natural materials for making horsehair jewelry—a popular activity at Mimosa Hills. Perhaps most importantly, the animals serve as vital companions during the regional shows in which Crosby regularly participates.
The treetops are traditionally the playground of winged beasts and tiny, furry climbers. So it's not unnatural to do a double take upon seeing humans flying from tree to tree—at heights of up to 50 feet—with all the grace of a forest native. Today, 15 treehouses peek through the leaves of the sprawling wooded area, serving as resting points and educational outposts for visitors soaring on ziplines. The Beanstalk Journey at Catawba Meadows came to fruition to fulfill its builders’ goal of providing fun and physical activities for families to enjoy. Now the park is open year-round, supplying adrenaline-pumping recreation to all who seek it.
Like veins coursing through the forest, swinging rope bridges and covered rope tunnels run through the foliage alongside ziplines of varying difficulty levels, enabling visitors to soar from tree to tree and finally assuage any regrets about not being born with hollow bird bones. For an extra challenge, the 32-foot beanstalk climbing tower and a massive multidirectional climbing web put upper- and lower-body strength to the test, and educational stations at each treehouse challenge minds with lessons on nature and local history. In addition to the standard attractions, outings can also be catered to visitors with special needs.
Combining the park's adventure opportunities with educational pursuits, the staff occasionally runs an adventure-photography workshop, nighttime zipline tours, and Birds of Prey Journeys. Continuing the mission to foster outdoor education and physical activity, the beanstalk's building team continuously erects new courses at other locales, ensuring that all are family friendly and none require hand braking.
At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park surrounds a 5-acre lake with a constellation of camping stations and activity centers. The Garcia family graciously plays host to guests who careen down the twists and turns of the park's 300-foot waterslide, play mini golf, or cast lines into the lake to catch waiting fish. Along with opportunities to connect with nature and name every tree after their fathers, the Garcias furnish visitors with space to set up tents, pop-ups, and RVs, or stay in the ground's own rough-hewn cabins. They also provide showers and laundry facilities to help campers maintain ties with civilization. The family becomes especially excited when pointing guests in the direction of North Carolina's Chimney Rock or Grandfather Mountain for hikes and breathless sightseeing adventures.