A Weekend In The SC Upstate: Visit These 5 Thrilling Destinations!

A weekend in the SC Upstate may not immediately come to mind when one thinks of adrenaline-pumping itineraries, but let me tell you, fellow Carolina Travelers – there are some seriously thrilling attractions to be found here!

From soaring above the treetops on a zipline to hurtling down a whitewater rapids course, the SC Upstate offers a variety of heart-pounding experiences for thrill-seekers of all levels. So pack your sense of adventure and sign all your waivers as we dive into the best thrill-seeking attractions for planning your long weekend in the SC Upstate.

Devil's Kitchen in Caesar's Head State Park

You might need some elbow grease to make your way through this “kitchen”!

Sneaking Through The Devil’s Kitchen Is A Gneiss Way To Start

Our adventure through Upstate SC starts with a twisting, turning descent down a precarious, rocky passage. The set of craggy stairs called Devil’s Kitchen was formed thousands of years ago as a result of mountain water freezing, expanding, and cracking open the granitic gneiss.

Today, it is just wide enough for one person to pass through, and the views on the other side are certainly worth the creative maneuvering. Those who successfully navigate the passage will enjoy panoramic vistas of the Caesar’s Head rock formation. While the hike is only a short distance from the Caesar’s Head State Park Visitor Center, we recommend proceeding with caution down the natural staircase. 

Mill's Creek Falls at Lake Jocassee

What a picturesque place to take a dip — just make sure you're careful not to slip!

Close Your Eyes And Jump Into Lake Jocassee

Our next thrilling attraction – accessible only by boat – awaits you at Jocassee Outdoor Center. The outfitters offer a half-day paddle or boat shuttle to Mill’s Creek Waterfall, where intrepid thrill-seekers can go cliff-jumping off of the 30-foot-tall precipice. 

What is it they say – trust in the process? As you swim up to the surface of the water post-jump, you’ll be surrounded by a lush, verdant cove that will make you wonder if you jumped through a portal to the Caribbean islands. If your adrenaline thirst is still unsatiated, you can rent a ski boat through the JOC at an hourly rate and attempt some gnarly tricks on wakeboards, kneeboards, waterskis, or tubes.

Stumphouse Tunnel is a must-visit destination for a weekend in the SC Upstate

Stumphouse Tunnel is a must-visit destination for a weekend in the SC Upstate.

Never Mind The Tunnel Vision

Speaking of accidentally jumping through portals…you definitely won’t want to pass up one of the SC Upstate’s most thrilling roadways as you head to your next destination! The Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel in Walhalla – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – was originally conceived to open a connection for the Blue Ridge Railroad to traverse from Charleston to the Ohio River Valley in the early 1800s. After decades of labor and millions of dollars spent, the project was abandoned. 

Featured above trekking bravely into the Stumphouse Tunnel, Kameron Masters had the following to share about her visit: Visiting was such an unexpected adventure! I loved reading the history when we got there and I was so surprised at the size of the tunnel. We could hear bats and water dripping deep inside, and we couldn’t see the ending of the tunnel until we were there. Along with the neighboring Issaqueena Falls, this was a must see!

Today, the tunnel is only accessible on foot inside the 440-acre Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park. We recommend taking a jacket into the tunnel since temperatures stay at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Make the most of your visit by setting up a picnic spread at Issaqueena Falls, a walkable distance from the tunnel. This hidden gem stop-off in SC is well worth spending a few hours before you continue making your way through the Upstate.

Wildwater Chattooga

The family that braves the waves together, stays together!

Wild, Wild Waters Couldn’t Drag Me Away…

Get ready for the ride(s) of your life when you cross the threshold of Wildwater Chattooga, a reputable outfitter offering thrilling zipline canopy tours and whitewater rafting excursions throughout the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. For those seeking an adventurous weekend in the SC Upstate with thrills for all ages, Wildwater Chattooga is a must on your itinerary.

Featured taking on the rapids in the picture above, the DeChellis family shares: We had a great time whitewater-rafting, zip-lining, and hiking the various beautiful scenic waterfall trails along the Chattooga and Nantahala Rivers! We easily booked everything through wildwaterrafting.com and everyone we encountered was friendly, knowledgeable,  and really seemed to love what they do. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful, peaceful, and fun nature experience!

You’ll find the special discount packages just as thrilling as the activities themselves when you check the website – for example, you can save up to $40 per person when you reserve a combination canopy/rafting tour. The eight-hour Chattooga Mini Trip & Ridge Canopy Tour also includes snacks on the river and is sure to delight adrenaline-seekers of all ages!

Oconnee Point Campground is a place to stay near Cemetery Island

Set up camp at the Oconee Point Campground before paddling your way to Cemetery Island.

Do You Dare Hike Across Cemetery Island?

South Carolina history buffs know the extent to which damming projects ushered in a confluence of man-made lakes across the state and nation, with Lake Hartwell being one of them. A result of a damming project aimed at curbing the flooding potential of the swelling Savannah River, the lake resulted in the creation of Cemetery Island, home to nearly 60 buried descendants of the Harris Family (who refused to relocate the graves when given notification about the damming project).

While anyone is welcome to visit the deserted island today, and many of the graves are still intact, legend has it that the Harris Family ghosts still roam the expanse. Find out for yourself when you embark upon a thrilling weekend in the SC Upstate! You can access Cemetery Island by kayak or canoe from the Oconee Point Campground in Seneca, the Friendship Boat Ramp in Seneca, or the Coneross Park and Campground in Townville – all within a mile and a half’s distance.

Addresses

Click each location to view their website, and check out this Google map showing the route for your ultimate thrill-seeking weekend in the SC Upstate, as described in the article.

Devil’s Kitchen at Caesar’s Head State Park – 8155 Geer Hwy, Cleveland, SC 29635

Jocassee Outdoor Center – 516 Jocassee Lake Rd, Salem, SC 29676

Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park – Stumphouse Tunnel Rd, Walhalla, SC 29691

Wildwater Chattooga – 1251 Academy Road S-37-14, Long Creek, SC 29658

Cemetery Island on Lake Hartwell – Oconee Point Campground, 200 Oconee Point Rd, Seneca, SC 29678

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