Hanging Out at the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center)

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As the Florida daily weather soars to above 100F daily, sending out high heat weather alerts, I think back to our cooler summer adventures when we ventured back down into the Nantahala Gorge in North Carolina, where the daily afternoon shower put a chill in the air and the cold rushing waters burnt our feet with their sheer iciness.

A couple of years past we had tried our hand at  white water rafting on the Nantahala River, but this year we decided to zip line, unfortunately having smaller kids does limit the extent of some adventures, and this year we found weight, not age our obstacle.

Zip lining at the NOC
NOC Zip Line Adventure Park

Across the bridge from the one road into the heart of the gorge lies the NOC (or the Nantahala Outdoor Center). It seems to be a major adventures hub, and the Appalachian Trail even cuts straight through it! The NOC employ a whopping 800 people to take groups down the river, push them off mountains (with harnesses attached folks!) train them in wilderness survival and much much more.

The center itself, though muddy from the rains, buzzed with guides lugging rafts onto of buses to take them to the launch point, families being instructed on water safety and snoozers tucked into hammocks strung from funky looking metal contraptions. The place just sang “healthy” and “fit”- buff instructors, buff paddlers- so much buffness!

Our check in involved a weigh-in for our youngest, and the mountaintop zip-line adventure was 100lbs and up, so we decided to try the Adventure Park and smaller zip-line adventure. A short walk over the train tracks and down the board walk and we were at the Adventure Park, being fitted up with safety harnesses and helmets.

NOC Adventure Park
Obstacle Course at the NOC

We tackled the obstacle course first. We had done the three level Sky Hike at Stone Mountain a few years back, so after the world’s largest sky-hike adventure, it was difficult to top, but as we arrived early, this obstacle course was pretty much our personal playground. Some of the obstacles we (er- I did) zipped past.

The obstacle course conquered, we headed up the hill (and yes, you have to walk it) for the zip-line. 600 ft of line takes you over the tennis court and past the trees back to the obstacle course platform, but you g\can go as many times you want in the 2.5 hour time limit you have. I loved it- no stomach churning rollercoaster feeling, just flying- like Peter Pan (one of my favorites). If only they attached the line to your back- that would be perfect- of course, you might just slam into the landing platform nose first too!

NOC Adventure Park
Zip lining at the NOC

One of the guides informed us that on the ridge top mountain zip line, even at 120 lbs, he has problems reaching the end and they have to sometimes fish him in- so weight determines your zip-speed- or lack of it too. Good to know for future adventures.

In Florida, our lack of mountains has developed a more extreme zip-line adventure- over swamps and gators. Having seen a gator jump for a chicken, I must question this wisdom, and perhaps our other future zip line will be farther from the swamps.

NOC adventure park
Zip lining at the NOC

Things to know before you go:

1. Know your weight if it might be an issue – they have a scale there and they will check!

2. Wear closed toed shoes. (they check that too)

3. If in the Gorge, mossie repellant is a must!

4. AT the NOC, book the early group. There were a large group of kids showing up after us- whew. We got more zips and no wait time being the early birds.

5.. Secure long hair. Seriously.

6.. Have fun!

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