|The Drive: Cooksburg, Pennsylvania
Deer Me: At around 6 p.m. each night, visitors can hand-feed whitetail deer — including an eight-point buck — at the Double Diamond Deer Ranch. (814) 752-6334, www.doublediamonddeerranch.com
When you steer your raft over the first set of rapids on the 1,700-foot man-made river at Adventure Sports Center International, your stomach might do some flips — but it won’t be from nerves. The new course, which opened in June in McHenry, Md., is designed to get rafters and kayakers excited to hit the course.
The initial view from the parking lot doesn’t give away much, just the check-in station, gift shop and cafeteria. The Fork Run Recreation Area, four miles away, is where adventure junkies can hike, mountain bike or tackle climbing routes.
But make your way through the check-in building, and you’ll land in a spot that’ll have you wondering if you’re really, truly standing before something man-made.
Amid trees and birds, accentuated by the sound of rushing water, the ASCI river is designed to flow just like real rapids. Boulders blasted from the spot to make way for the course were put back in, so it looks as real as any natural river. Bystanders populate the river’s edge, watching kayakers and group-tour rafts circle the course and waiting to see if anyone capsizes. Underwater wave-making machines manipulate the rapids to create anything from calm class II currents to raging class IV whitewater.
Guided rafts shove off every half hour. By your second or third trip around, you might start to feel like a pro yourself. When your guide yells, “Right side, backward row,” and you actually know what he’s talking about, go ahead and give yourself some props.