By Jesse Wood
Although the rain has made a wash of High Country Gravity’s opening this week, the future looks bright for the aerial adventure park situated adjacent to Tweetsie Railroad theme park.
While the weather is rainy this week, the sun held up for the grand opening of the course on Saturday, and adventurers – ages 5 and up – were challenging themselves as high as 50 feet up in the air, walking on aerial bridges and tight ropes, traversing giant spider webs and swinging through floating foot loops.
Challenge Towers Aerial Adventures, the parent company of High Gravity Adventure, was founded in 1996. While the company has constructed aerial courses and zipline tours across the country and the world for the past two decades, President Ken Jacquot has been looking to build and operate its own course in the High Country for some time.
(In 1992, Jacquot founded Blue Ridge Learning Centers in Todd 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. Home base for all three companies is still Todd.)
“I like to call myself the largest employer in Todd,” Jacquot joked.
As for the aerial adventure course in between Boone and Blowing Rock, Jacquot said he was “psyched” to be able to operate and refine a course in his own backyard. He said he was especially excited about the location, as Tweetsie Railroad and High Gravity Adventures will be complimenting businesses, able to cater to a variety of demographics and families of all ages.
While some of the younger kids might want to jump on Thomas the Train, the older kids might be more inclined to strap on a harness and check out the adventure course.
Jacquot said he scouted all around the High Country for the perfect place to set up a course and he kept coming back to that U.S. 321 corridor. He spoke with Tweetsie Railroad CEO Chris Robbins about the idea of building this course on the Tweetsie-owned property, and Robbins immediately jumped all over the idea.
“We’re really excited,” President Ken Jacquot said. “It’s the perfect location … I really like the relationship with the owners of Tweetsie. Chris and Kathy have been great to us. We’ve been very pleased and we hope we help their business, too.”
As Chris Robbins said, “I thought it was a great idea. I jumped on with both feet.”
“I think it looks great. I am delighted to have them as a neighbor. It provides something for a little different market … I think they’ve done a great job with it, and it looks fabulous,” Robbins added.
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.
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 prior press release read.
Seventy-five challenges are featured throughout the course, which features elements such as aerial bridge walks; crossing tight-rope walks; swinging through floating foot loops; and traversing giant spider webs.
High Gravity Adventures is open to those 5 and up and limited to people under 265 pounds.
Before entering the course, each guest participates in an aerial orientation – known as ‘Ground School’ – with the trained staff. In this orientation, patrons are introduced to the equipment and course procedures.
A purchase of a ticket gives adventurers, connected to built-in steel cables with a full-body harness, three straight hours on the course to come and go as they please. No in telling the guests where to go or what to do; they are free to explore and challenge themselves as they see fit.
In addition to the actual course, three yurts were constructed and those facilities are the base of operations. The yurts are for the office, registration and ticket purchases; storage for all of the equipment and gear such as harnesses and helmets; and full bathroom facilities.
The yurts add an element of adventure when you think of yurts being used for base-camp facilities, for example, during expeditions in the Himalayas. In addition to the yurts, a few thousand feet of deck space exists for spectators who aren’t participating but would like to watch their family and friends challenge themselves
Through May 21, High Gravity Adventures is open Monday through Friday from 1 to 8 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Starting on May 22, it is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
While the standard ticket is good for three hours, an extra $10 makes your ticket an all-day pass. Season passes are also available.
Adult (14+): $49 for adult course ticket
Young Adult (12-13): $49 for adult course ticket. (Guardian adult must be present on the grounds but not required to be on the course.)
Junior (8-11): $39 for adult course ticket. (An adult must accompany the youth through the adult course.)
Kids (5-10): $19 for a kid’s course ticket. (An accompanying adult must be on the grounds of High Gravity Adventures or can purchase a junior course ticket.)
- Adult or Young Adult — $109
- Junior (Accompanied by Adult) — $89
- Kids (kids course only) — $39
- Family Discount (4-6 purchasing, direct relatives only) — 10% discount on season passes only.
Discounts are also for larger groups.
For more information, click to www.highgravityadventures.com or call 828-386-6222.