Encounters with the Extraordinary: 5

Green River Adventures Offers Fresh Perspectives on The Natural World

Perhaps you love hiking in the Pisgah Forest, paddle boating in Beaver Lake, or steering your car through the tree-lined twists and turns of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Maybe you like to stroll in the lush parks scattered throughout our city, or simply enjoy tending your own backyard garden. It seems every Asheville resident has their favorite way of getting up close and personal with the mother earth.

While our city is blessed with vibrant greenery at every corner, some of the most rewarding natural experiences of Western NC aren’t quite so obvious. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to zoom from tree to tree on a zipline, taking in the full scope of the forest from a bird’s perspective? How about rappelling seventy feet  — or more! — into one of our waterfalls? A deeper look at Western NC’s outdoor scene reveals potential for adventure that defies the imagination.

Such thrilling excursions may seem out of reach for all but the hardiest of outdoors enthusiasts, but Tim and Sara Bell have made it their life’s work to offer these to individuals of all skill levels. Their business, Green River Adventures, offers a full suite of wilderness activities to suit everyone from extreme sports enthusiasts to the merely nature-curious. Located in nearby Saluda, Green River Adventures invites all to indulge their appetite for soaring peaks, enchanted waterfalls and unforgettable adventures.

Green River Adventures was born after Sara graduated from Brevard College. That was where she met Tim; both had transferred to Brevard from other colleges for its world-class degree program in Outdoor Education. Tim and Sara also both had a long-standing background in whitewater kayaking — he a raft guide, she as a whitewater kayaking instructor. Sara had known for years that she wanted to open her own whitewater kayaking school, noting that she always had an entrepreneurial spirit. The couple spent some time after college leading three-week-long wilderness excursion trips for American teens in Costa Rica, which prepared them to launch their very own adventure business upon returning to the states.

Their level of dedication and commitment belied their youth: Sara was only 25 when the business launched. “The learning curve was pretty steep,” she admits. Green River Adventures got its start as whitewater kayaking school, later expanding to include inflatable kayaking trips, a term that people “use synonymously with whitewater rafting,” explains Tim. Over the years, they expanded to add multiple new adventures to their offerings, including stand-up paddleboarding, swimming hole treks, and their well-loved waterfall rappel excursions. Four years ago, they opened up a zipline canopy tour called The Gorge, located at one of the area’s most remarkable natural wonders.

Through this growth and development, they have remained commitment to quality: their facilities, gear, and administration raise the bar for their industry. “We have a quality standard,” Sara says. “We have a specific way that we like to run our trips.” This is evident in every last detail of their outposts offering, but what really drives it home is the sheer professionalism of their staff. Tim and Sara make it a point to work with the most experienced, courteous, and (importantly) fun-loving tour guides in our area. “The people we hire are extremely passionate about what they’re doing, have fresh ideas and a ton of enthusiasm,” she says. “At the beginning of the day, they are stoked to greet the clients.” They’re also very savvy about the natural history and science of the area, and are more than happy to share educational information along with the thrill.

People travel from all over the world to spend time at Green River Adventures, which is why Asheville residents are fortunate to have them just down the road. Many local participants return frequently withvisiting guests to give them an experience that truly exemplifies the best of Western NC. And though a trip to Saluda feels like a true getaway, it’s only a short drive from downtown Asheville (thirty minutes east on Interstate 26, in case you’re wondering). Sara recommends stopping by some of her favorite restaurants to fuel up for the journey or enjoy a well-earned dinner, heartily recommending The Purple Onion and Newman’s Restaurant at The Orchard Inn.

While it’s impossible to lose touch with nature in Asheville, it bears remembering that there are so many different ways to lose yourself in its riches. Tim and Sara have created a hub for all who crave remarkable encounters with the Blue Ridge. A stop by Green River Adventures could lead you and your family to discover a new favorite hobby — or even a lifelong passion. The trip is sure to leave you with lifelong memories and a renewed appreciation for the beauty that we call home.