8 Adventurous Activities You Can Try With Your Family

8 Adventurous Activities You Can Try With Your Family

Last Updated on December 18, 2023

Trying new adventures as a family creates everlasting memories that you can cherish for years to come. Stepping outside your comfort zone together builds confidence and deepens bonds. Whether riding rapids or hiking to scenic vistas, a shared spirit of exploration strengthens the entire family. 

Nestled in the majestic Appalachian Mountains, the Great Smoky Mountains provide the perfect landscape for families to challenge themselves with thrilling outdoor adventures. 

From paddling icy whitewater to climbing towering peaks, a shared spirit of exploration bonds families closer together. Start slowly, pick age-appropriate activities, and embrace the experience of overcoming obstacles arm-in-arm. The memories forged while trying new adventures as a team will be cherished forever.

1. White Water Rafting

One thrilling way for families to bond while cooling off in the Smokies is by tackling whitewater rapids together on a rafting trip. The Pigeon River is a 70.2 miles long river, in Western North Carolina, flowing into the French Broad River. The Pigeon River features top-notch Class I to IV rapids, drawing rafters of all age groups. 

Gliding over surging rapids gives an adrenaline rush families will never forget. For the ultimate wet and wild adventure, expert services like Smoky Mountain Outdoors Rafting offer guided family white water rafting trips, suitable for kids and adults alike. 

Rafting as a team builds trust and cooperation as you paddle in unison under the guidance of an experienced guide. After starting on gentler Class I-II rapids, young rafters can work up to more extreme challenges. Family white water rafting trips  allow families to fully immerse themselves in the excitement of paddling rough water together.

2. Mountain Coaster Rides

For thrills at family-friendly speeds, a mountain coaster ride offers rollercoaster-style action suitable for all ages. These high-tech sleds on downhill rails whisk riders of any height down forested mountain slopes up to 30 miles per hour. Gravity does the work as families zip around banked turns and dip through short underground tunnels carved into the mountainside. 

Nestled in the hills outside Pigeon Forge, the Goats on the Roof coaster provides panoramic views of the Smokies when you’re not squealing through corkscrew turns. With ride attendants present and advanced safety harnesses, mountain coasters provide safe, shared excitement for parents and kids alike.

3. Aerial Adventure Parks

New heights of family fun await at treetop aerial adventure parks scattered throughout the Smokies. These rope courses suspended from towering oaks and pines feature wobbling bridges, zip lines, climbing nets, and balance beams. 

Families and friends traverse self-guided aerial circuits while securely harnessed. With up to three levels of progressively difficult courses, adventure parks accommodate all ages and thrill levels. Kids gain confidence mastering manageable challenges like low ropes courses, then can watch parents brave the sky-high obstacles. 

4. Hiking Trails

With over 800 miles of hiking trails cutting through its lush forests and valleys, Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides families unlimited opportunities to explore the diverse landscape. Well-maintained trails cater to all ability levels. Lower elevation hikes like the Twin Creeks Path outside Gatlinburg offer easier terrain while avoiding smoky skies. Classic routes like Alum Cave Bluffs introduce scenic overlooks and geologic wonders at higher but manageable elevations. 

Families reap the benefits of rejuvenating exercise surrounded by fresh mountain air, shady forests, and booming waterfalls. Interpretive trails like Fighting Creek Nature Trail teach kids about the park’s unique plants and animals through trailside exhibits and brochures. 

5. Fly Fishing

Learning to reel in a rainbow trout from a pristine mountain stream creates priceless shared memories. Fly fishing instruction makes it easy for families to pick up this iconic pastime perfected in the Smokies over generations. Outfitters lead guided wade trips to prime fishing holes throughout the national forest, where kids can start catching fish within minutes. 

With its year-round cold waters and steady insect hatches, the Smokies sustain bountiful trout populations in nearly 2,900 miles of streams. Your family will treasure pulling on a fighting trout together before releasing it into tranquil pools ringed by rhododendrons under smoky blue ridges. Passing on timeless fly-fishing skills and ethics from parent to child connects generations.

6. Caving Expeditions

Spelunking through the misty caverns beneath the Smokies provides the perfect family quest away from smoky skies. Adventure caving tours provide helmets and headlamps for exploring the endless worlds hidden underground. Kids are excited, squeezing through narrow passages and clambering over boulders with names like “Breakdown Mountain.” 

Gazing up at gleaming stalactites in the blackness of the Tuckaleechee Caverns inspires a profound sense of wonder. The chill cave air also offers natural relief when summer heat and smoke settle over the peaks. Beyond the park, Forbidden Caverns features more accessible walking passageways perfect for younger spelunkers. 

7. Ziplining Tours

Once families master aerial adventures low in the treetops, it’s time to reach new heights on a thrilling zipline canopy tour. Harnessed to a steel cable, you and your kids will soar like birds over river gorges and forest valleys, taking in panoramic mountain vistas. Expert guides provide in-depth safety briefings and assist first-time zippers, making this adrenaline-pumping experience accessible even for the youngest, bravest members of the family. 

The Smokies surrounding Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg boast epic ziplines like the Smoky Mountain Ziplines, spanning over 4,200 feet of cable across seven lines.

8. Horseback Riding

Horseback riding on mountain trails is a beautiful option for families who want to experience the beauty of the Smokies at a peaceful pace. Several stables outside the national park offer guided trail rides suitable for riders of all levels, including children as young as 6. 

Plodding along on a gentle steed surrounded by mountain meadows and crisp rivers provides a serene experience for bonding with nature and each other. For cocky teen riders, guides can lead trotting and cantering excursions to pick up the pace. 

Multi-day pack trips allow families to ride deep into the backcountry and camp under the stars. With the Smokies’ extensive trail network, each winding mountain path explored on horseback creates special memories to cherish. 


Towering forests, surging rivers, and mountain vistas make the Smokies a magical place for families to create once-in-a-lifetime memories. Adventurous activities deliver lifelong memories along with valuable skills and confidence.

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