Soaring to New Heights
Anna Shay Wasden
If you thought spontaneous getaways and wild trips ended with summer break, think again. The girls at RSVP packed their bags and went soaring through Georgia’s skies with an easy-to-plan and easy-to-enjoy road trip.
Tucked away in North Georgia lies an abandoned paper mill turned adventurer’s delight. Historic Banning Mills is home to the largest zip lining tour in the world. After only a 45-minute drive from the Atlanta airport, travelers can enjoy the simplicity of life away from the big city - without having to sacrifice any amenities.
The lodging and on-site offerings at Banning Mills are equal to any high-rise hotel found within the city limits. With a simple slide of the backdoor in your choice of lodging, Mother Nature is suddenly at your fingertips. A variety of lodging options, including tree house rooms and rustic cabins, offer unique views of the site. The sounds of birds chirping and water rushing through the rocks greet you as you enjoy a fresh cup of brewed coffee, and is the perfect way to start your morning- whether your day is filled with spa pampering or living it up on the zip lines. And believe us, you will need some fuel to enjoy everything they have to offer.
If being strapped to a rope and flying over 100-feet above the ground does not exactly sound like your idea of a vacation, do not worry. Banning Mills offers a variety of on-the-ground attractions. From fine dining to horseback riding to simply enjoying nature on their trails, there is no shortage of entertainment.
After enjoying the on-site country breakfast, we suited up in our fashionable helmets and zip lining gear and headed out for the adventures ahead. While some of us were not too keen on the idea of being carried hundreds of feet off the ground, we all soon found our groove after the short training and climb to our first line.
Our team chose to pull out all the stops with the Level 3 zip-lining tour and Flight of the Falcon add-on. On our three-hour tour, we successfully mastered 16 zip lines, 10 skywalk bridges and three towers. While these Montgomery girls weren’t exactly the most natural fliers, our expert guides, Ethan and Langston, made every effort to make us feel safe while still enjoying the ride. We were accompanied by other groups from all over the United States who helped ease our fear with comic relief. Our favorite fellow flier was a 70-year-old woman who beat all of us in tenacity and agility. We each decided that if she could master these high ropes and zips; we could too.
For the apprehensive zip liner: the well-trained staff at Banning Mills does everything in their power to alleviate anyone’s fears. Its owners consist of a retired pilot and registered nurse couple. The staff is filled with friendly faces and knowledgeable nature experts. Any fears or reservations are easily replaced with the excitement which lies ahead.
As if the completion of Level 1 and 2 zip lines was not enough, we chose to continue our experience with the Flight of the Falcon. This 3,400-foot line offers the rider a real “bird’s-eye view” as they are strapped in stomach-down and head-first. The thrill of rushing through the beauty of Northern Georgia, accompanied by the exhilaration of zooming through the skies, is enough to set any attraction apart. Banning Mills offers free photography of all zip lining tours, so you can enjoy your fun without worrying about dropping those precious phones from the tall towers. Check out their Instagram and Facebook for a full gallery of the excitement their tours can give.
Banning Mills offers a variety of packages that are suitable for all ages and experience levels. Their Guinness Book of World Record title does not come without serious backing. The site offers over 135 zip lines and it would take about 12 hours to complete every one. It is home to a 140-foot tall wall climb, complete with gorgeous views of Snake Creek Gorge, and their Crazy Squirrel Adventure Park is ideal for children and adults alike.
As the leaves turn crisp and the air gets cool, be sure to carve out time for your family to visit this must-see spot. For more information, visit www.historicbanningmills.com. Lodging and zip lining can also be booked by calling 770.834.9149.