Tennessee is a great place to live if you have a knack for adventure. It’s also the perfect state for adrenaline junkies, with more than enough opportunities to get your fix of thrill-seeking without leaving home. From mountain biking in Gatlinburg and skiing at Dollywood to rock climbing in Chattanooga and ziplining through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are plenty of ways to experience all kinds of excitement right here in our backyard. Here are 12 things to do that will help you find some of the most thrilling experiences around.
1. Bungee Jumping on Roaring Fork Mountain
You’ll have to travel a bit to find this extreme sport, but it’s well worth the trip. Bungee jumping from Roaring Fork Mountain is one of the only bungee jump locations in the country, located just outside of Gatlinburg. The jumps are spread out over an area of about 1 mile, which makes them easy to navigate even when you’re not familiar with the area. Each jump costs $99, including a safety briefing and a commemorative certificate.
It’s no surprise that sky diving would be one of the first activities suggested by those who live in Tennessee. There are dozens of skydiving centers throughout the state, including one south of Knoxville near Maryville. You can choose between several different packages, ranging from $79 to $199. Be sure to bring your parachute and any other equipment you may need.
3. Zipline Pigeon Forge
Zipline Pigeon Forge is a perfect destination for you if you’ve always been a Tarzan fan. Located just north of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge has three different zip lines, each offering a unique experience. One of these courses is called “Tarzan Over the Clouds,” which runs over 500 feet high and is rated for beginners and experienced riders. The other two zip lines, “Tarzan’s Jungle Ride” and “Jane’s Lost Treasure Trail,” are shorter and less intimidating. These ziplines through the Smokies run between 50 and 75 feet above the ground.
4. Go Caving
Have you ever wanted to explore caves? If so, then Tennessee is the place for you. With more than 100 known cave systems throughout the state, it’s hard to go wrong. The biggest and best known of these is Mammoth Cave, open to visitors since 1875. Tours are available year-round, with daily rates starting at $15 per person.
5. White Water Rafting
White water rafting is another favorite activity among those who live in Tennessee. The state offers five rivers where white-water rafting tours are offered: the French Broad River, the Little Tennessee River, the New River Gorge, the Watauga River, and the Nolichucky River. The latter two are located in western Tennessee, while the rest are in eastern Tennessee. All of these river trips cost $50 to $65 per person.
6. Scuba Diving
Scuba diving is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Tennessee. There are dozens of dive sites around the state, located within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most of the dives take place off the coast of North Carolina, though there are some spots along the East Coast. A typical dive costs $100 to $125 per person.
Hiking is another great way to get outdoors and enjoy nature. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone boasts more than 4 million acres of hiking trails. The park is home to more than 2,000 miles of trails, with hundreds suitable for novice hikers. The Appalachian Trail is located entirely within the national park for those who prefer a challenge. This trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and takes roughly six months.
Skiing is one of the most popular winter sports in Tennessee, and the state is full of ski resorts. The largest and most famous of these is Dollywood, located in Pigeon Forge. Dollywood features two slopes, the “Little River Run” and the “Wildcat Ridge.” These slopes are beginner-friendly, and both cost $59 per day.
9. Horseback Riding
One of the best ways to see Tennessee is by horseback. Whether you’re riding down the streets of Nashville or through the mountains of Sevier County, it’s an excellent way to experience the state. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development recommends that you reserve a week’s stay in one of the state’s many bed-and-breakfasts to make the most of your time. These establishments offer guided rides as part of their services, ranging from $60 to $120 per hour.
Kayaking is a great way to see the state, and it’s a lot easier than you might think. There are many kayak rental shops in the state’s larger cities, such as Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Memphis. Rentals range from $20 to $35 per hour.
11. Fly Fishing
Fly fishing is another popular Tennessee activity. While fly fishing is usually done on rivers, there are also plenty of lakes in the state where it’s possible to fish for trout. Most of these lakes are located in the state’s southern regions, including Lake Tansi, Lake Guntersville, and Lake Lanier. Rates vary depending on the lake but expect to pay $30 to $40 per hour.
12. Hot Air Balloon Rides
Finally, hot air balloon rides are another way to enjoy the state. There are several places where you can book a ride, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Great Wolf Lodge in Cherokee. Prices start at $99 per person.
13. Bike Trails
If you’re looking for something a little less adventurous, then bike trails are a good bet. These are primarily located in the mountains, but you can find a few along the shore of Lake Guntersville as well.
Paintballing is another fun way to spend a day outdoors. Although paintball is most often associated with the woods, the sport is also popular in urban areas. Most of these are located in Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Nashville. Expect to pay $25 to $40 per person.
15. Canoe Trips
Canoeing is another popular activity in Tennessee. There are canoe trips for beginners and experts alike, which are available throughout the state. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a series of paddling trails, while the city of Chattanooga has its own set of public canoeing facilities.
Tennessee is a great place to live if you’re looking for excitement. The state has everything from bungee jumping to fly fishing, and all of these activities are available for anyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a fan of extreme sports or not, you’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy yourself in Tennessee.