Having Built Aerial Adventure Courses Across the World, Challenge Towers Finally Constructing in High Country

Published Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm
An artist rendering similar to what is being constructed near Tweetsie Railroad.

An artist rendering similar to what is being constructed near Tweetsie Railroad.

By Jesse Wood

Dec. 16, 2014. While the Boone area has multiple canopy zipline tours, High Gravity Adventure, the new aerial adventure course being constructed next Tweetsie Railroad, will be unique to the High Country.

Carson Rivers, director of operations for Challenge Towers Aerial Adventures, the parent company of High Gravity adventure, said that the new course, which features dozens of challenges up to 50 feet in the air, a zipline tour and a freefall.

“In the country right now are a couple of trends and we’ve kind of been apart of both of them. [One of them is the] canopy tour zipline experience, and we have a couple in town and we are friends with those folks. We are hoping to compliment them and not compete directly with the zipline [operations],” Rivers said.

He added, however, while ziplining is a “great experience and really fun,” the zipline tours are passive in the sense that you sit in a harness and essentially glide through the air.

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An aerial view of current construction.

“For us, our course is a much more active experience, traversing cargo net walls and going across challenges and engaging the whole body instead of sitting in a harness and riding,” Rivers said. “It’s a big difference … this is a more active aerial adventure park.”

While the course has a number of components with high-adrenaline activities, Rivers stressed that this is a family-friendly concept for children and adults – even those people who don’t consider themselves “hardcore” or aren’t the best athletes.

“The opportunity is really open for anybody to get up and challenge themselves a bit – from kids as young as four to five years old all the way up to adults,” Rivers said, adding that while the course feels risky as if you are “living on the edge,” participants are always strapped into harnesses and connected to steel cables.

The first of the three main components of the adventure park is the “breathtaking” adventure course that features three levels of challenges, progressing in difficulty from 20 to 35 to 50 feet off of the ground. More than 50 challenges are featured in the course.

The second component is a junior adventure course that takes place 15 feet off of the ground and is geared for younger children. The third component consists of a freefall and zipline tour that will “take thrill seekers on an exhilarating series of aerial journeys through Blue Ridge Mountain forests and meadows surrounding Tweetsie Railroad,” a press release read.

Established in 1996, Challenge Towers Aerial Adventures is based in Todd and is a division of Blue Ridge Learning Centers, which was founded by Ken Jacquot and Steve Owen in 1992 to provide to provide experiential education programs and teambuilding for individuals and organizations. It currently partners with the Valle Crucis Conference Center and Blowing Rock Conference Center to host this programming.

Challenge Towers Aerial Adventures has constructed aerial courses and zipline tours across the country and the world in the past two decades. “Notable aerial adventure projects” were built in India, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Ecuador and Mexico. Rivers noted that in 2013, he worked in 30 states and seven countries; this isn’t counting additional areas that other staff members of Challenge Towers Aerial Adventures visited.

logoBut the course adjacent Tweetsie Railroad is its first in the High Country.

“We’ve been looking for a place in the High Country. We’ve been building these courses for a lot of other people and having a lot of fun doing it … but we’ve always wanted to wait and look for that right opportunity close to home that we live in and care about,” Rivers said.

About three or four years ago, the company began looking for property on which to build and operate a course. When it was aware of the property next to Tweetsie, the group called the theme park up and Tweetise seemed interested, stating later in a release that this adventure course would compliment the historic theme park.

“Tweetsie Railroad has been delivering family-friendly, Wild West adventure and entertainment for nearly 60 years,” Tweetsie President Chris Robbins said. “Starting next spring, High Gravity Adventure is going to be another great reason for families to visit Tweetsie.”

Rivers said that a grand opening of the adventure park is planned for when Tweetsie Railroad opens for the 2015 season on April 10. If construction is ahead of schedule, then High Gravity Adventures will have soft openings before the grand opening.

For more information about Challenge Towers Aerial Adventures, click here.

Below are pictures of other courses the company has built and pictures of construction of the local course.

Completed Courses Built by Challenge Towers Aerial Adventures

Nordic Skills Course: Utah Olympic Park, Park City, Utah

Nordic Skills Course: Utah Olympic Park, Park City, Utah

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Vertical Playpen: Universidad de Monterey N. L. Mexico

Giant Swing: Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes, Orlando, Florida

Giant Swing: Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes, Orlando, Florida

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Highlands Aerial Park: Highlands, North Carolina

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Wild Blue Ropes: Charleston South Carolina

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NOC Mountain Top Zip Line Tour: Bryson City, North Carolina

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Yellowstone Aerial Adventures: West Yellowstone, Montana

Construction Photos of High Gravity Adventures Near Tweetsie

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