Green River Adventures celebrates 10-year anniversary

Published 10:39 pm Friday, April 15, 2016


By Michael O’Hearn

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Green River Adventures in Saluda has been taking community members into nature on guided trips and through the Gorge for a decade and owners Tim and Sara Bell said they were excited about relocating from Brevard.


Their 10-year anniversary will be celebrated by holding their annual free Spring Green Bash in downtown Saluda on May 7 sponsored by Oskar Blues, Prestige Subaru and WNC Magazine. Half of the proceeds by trips with Green River Adventures will then be donated to the Saluda Community Land Trust.


“We moved to Saluda for the Green River, we’re actually from Brevard and transferred to the Brevard College for the outdoor education program, the outdoor educational and experiential program,” Sara Bell said. “Both of us were kayakers, and we didn’t know each other when we were at Brevard College.”


Sara added she taught kayaking at a summer camp in Brevard and helped friends who had been setting up a whitewater kayaking school known as Pisgah Whitewater.

COVER PHOTO 04.16.16


“Most of the beginner clinics we taught were on the Green River, on the lower Green, and the intermediate or intro to creeking clinics we taught were on the upper section just above the narrows,” Sara Bell said. “In 2006, the state passed a law that outlawed alcohol on the Green River and within 50 feet of the Green River. When the law went into effect, the cleansing effect it had on the river was immediate.”


Before the law had been passed, Bell said the river had been trashed with water, Coke and beer bottles before being cleansed after August 2006. During that time, the Bells noticed there had been a need for a permanent outpost and outfitter along the Green River and decided to set it up in Saluda.


“We went, ‘Well, if there’s a time to open an outpost on the river, this is it,’” Bell explained. “So we, yeah, just made the trip to not only make a permanent outpost with a place for retail, guided trips for families and tourists and expand the market with not just kayaking and half-day river trips.”


Being right on the Green River and having whitewater retail to sell is something the Bells thought would be a big part of the business. This business venture ended up a tourist destination for residents of the Foothills and tourists coming to the area alike, with 20 to 25,000 participants a season according to Sara.


Tim Bell said there is a broad spectrum of services for families who come to GRA for trips and rentals. Zipline tours are $97 while the trips at Green River Adventures range from $35 to $107.


“There’s three things that we do that I consider to be world class adventures and we could go up against anybody else in these trips,” Tim said. “That’s the upper Green, the waterfall rappel and the zipline canopy tours. Those three trips are unbelievable and are all active.”


Providing a wide range of services and trips aside from the retail aspect of the Green River Adventures outpost is something Sara said came from community feedback.


“We then shifted our focus from retail and services to really quickly learning that we enjoyed working in the service industry more than retail. Retail is soul-sucking,” Sara joked. “So, we focused our attention on creating trips the people of Saluda and the people who come to this area were looking for.”


These services ended up expanding for whitewater rafting trips to waterfall hikes, waterfall rappelling, swimming hole hikes and fly fishing trips. Boats and kayaks are also available for rent at the outpost.


“Giving people the trips they started asking for is what we wanted to do,” Sara said. “And now we do ziplining. That’s under our business at the Gorge and we’re going into our fourth year now with that. It’s awesome.”


Based on demand, 11 ziplines are open year-round and Green River Adventures is beginning their 2016 season, which will run through October.


“There are two guides on every zipline tour,” Sara explained. “One guide zips first and the other guide stays on the platform, and all the participants move through the course in a pod. So, you’re zipping from treetop to treetop down into the Gorge and the views are huge because you can see all the way from Pisgah to Rumbling Bald.”


One of their favorite trips to do is the upper Green River kayaking trip that takes people, even those who have never been in a kayak, on a guided river trip.


“All we ask of them is that they have a sense of adventure and be comfortable with the water,” Sara said. “You’re in inflatable kayaks and that trip and our waterfall rappel trips are the two trips people come back from and go, ‘Oh my goodness, I had no idea that I can do this, and it’s the coolest thing we’ve ever done with our family.’”


Depending on the season, Sara said she and Tim know what demographic will be coming in but added these trips are suitable for anyone ages five for the lower Green trips to having someone as old as 92 on the zipline at the Gorge.


“Within a family going on vacation, you can have three of them doing the lower Green and then four of them on the upper Green, and then they all do the zipline together,” Tim added. “It just depends on their itineraries, because they may be different.”


Keeping the train on the tracks for the next ten years is the goal with Green River Adventures, according to Sara.


“We’ve always got ideas for expansion, but there’s nothing on the front burner, nothing that pops out,” Tim said. “There’s more of a natural expansion opportunity with the river business, so nothing magical now. As more people want to go down the river, we’ll figure out how to expand on it but we’re at a good, saturated point.”


To make a reservation with Green River Adventures, visit their website at or or email the reservation staff at Phone reservations can also be made by calling 828-749-2800.