The career thrill-seekers at Outdoor Adventures of the Smokies guide quests into the Smoky Mountains by a variety of means, including helicopters, safari wagons, and ziplines. Aerial views of Tennessee's rolling farmlands and vast oceans overwhelm the senses as hot air balloons hoist at least four riders aloft from the foothills of the Smoky Mountains National Park. The lower Pigeon River's gentle class I and II rapids sharpen the skills of beginner whitewater rafters as they spend 90 minutes maneuvering frothy crests. Up to 12 land-bound adventurers can pile into monster trucks for five heart-racing laps around a track with two large hills, two petite mounds, and two traffic lights that turn yellow at the last second.
Zorb Smoky Mountains holds the distinction of being the only Zorb site in the country. Born in New Zealand, Zorb globe riding is a sport that involves an inflatable globe and downhill trips, which may cause riders to roll so fast they think they are tearing a hole in the time-space continuum. The hills themselves are specially designed for globe riding and feature both straight and zigzagged trails.
Treks through Five Oaks Riding Stables' 70-acre nature park afford riders views of the Great Smoky Mountains and its indigenous mountain wildlife, including wild turkey and white-tailed deer. On 5-mile rides, tourists get glimpses of Mount LeConte, a mountain lake, and the remnants of an old moonshiner's still, which dates back to the days when Americans were only allowed to drink alcohol out of bathtubs.
Wahoo Ziplines centers on stretch of six ziplines that runs for a total of more than two miles in length. The canopy tour is two hours in length and offers scenic views of the mountains and surrounding terrain from up to 250 feet in the air. Guides help visitors of all ages don the harness before launching them from hilltop to hilltop at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.
For more than 60 years, the Cherokee Historical Association, a nonprofit cultural organization, has immersed visitors in live recreations of the history and daily life of the Cherokee people. Nestle into the 2,000-seat outdoor amphitheater for a presentation of Unto These Hills, an outdoor drama that's said to have been performed for more than six million visitors and 60 billion insects since its debut in 1950. The adventure begins with the Europeans’ arrival in the New World and navigates audiences through the tapestry of time, ending with the Cherokees’ tragic journey on the Trail of Tears.
On re-created sets complete with lights and sound, Hollywood Star Cars Museum unveils a collection of iconic autos from movies and television, including many built and modified by famed four-wheeled star-maker George Barris. Law-flaunting jaywalkers freeze at the sight of the 1966 Batmobile, a $250,000 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura concept car reimagined into a crime-fighting super machine complete with a foreboding front modified to look like the black winged animal. Famous 1969 heartthrob Herbie the Love Bug also makes the scene with sidekick Little Herbie, while the famed DeLorean from Back to the Future hangs out with a futuristic motorcycle from the far-off year 2015. Meanwhile, a Corvette Grand Sport driven by Vin Diesel in the 2011 film Fast Five inspires mouth-simulated explosions and improvised catchphrases.