With summer on its way, outdoor sports enthusiasts across the country are gearing up and getting ready for that first adrenaline rush of the year. When more passive people start thinking about getting their adrenaline pumping, they almost always jump straight to activities like bungee jumping and parachuting out of planes. That’s a huge mistake. These sorts of one-time activities require a lot of planning and travel, all for just one moment of intense enjoyment.
There’s a far greater range of outdoor activities that are, and should be, more popular and just as exciting as skydiving, and many of them let outdoor enthusiasts play a far more active role. Plus, they don’t require traveling halfway across the country. Read on to find out about 12 outdoor activities with a great reputation among adrenaline junkies that will be just as fun this year as they have always been.
1. Riding Dirt Bikes
There are few things more fun than trying out a new dirt bike course or signing up for a race at the local track. The great thing about dirt biking is that, unlike skydiving, it’s an intensely active sport, and avid enthusiasts can spend hours on their bikes every day if they have the time. Dirt biking requires significant upper-body strength, and it definitely takes a lot of skill. Novices shouldn’t head out and try absurdly challenging tricks on their first day.
For most people, the fact that dirt biking is a challenge makes it all the more enjoyable. It’s satisfying to master a new sport, especially one that involves heading out to the great outdoors, competing with others, and, often, making new friends. Some dirt bikers can even get paid to do what they love.
Dirt bike enthusiasts looking to get sponsored should work on their tricks, increase their exposure, and make sure their bikes are as eye-catching as possible. Adding graphics can make a huge difference. Check out Senge Graphics and browse their selection of eye-catching yet affordable options before the season starts in earnest.
2. Whitewater Rafting
Finding a great spot to go whitewater rafting may require traveling a little way, especially for city-bound adrenaline junkies. Most people find it’s well worth the trip, though. Whitewater rafters measure rapids on a scale of one to five, with anything higher than five considered unraftable. They then get together with friends or other equally enthusiastic strangers, jump in a rubber raft, and take off down the river.
Whitewater rafting isn’t for the faint of heart, nor is it an ideal sport for those who don’t play well with others. The good news is, it’s a very easy sport to get into. There are plenty of commercial whitewater rafting companies that operate out of just about anywhere with a suitably sized river.
Before investing in personal equipment, it’s worth signing up for a guided trip with a few friends. Real outdoor enthusiasts can even plan multi-day camping trips that combine the adrenaline rush of navigating tough rapids with the less-intense excitement of getting out into nature and sleeping under the stars.
3. Free Solo Climbing
Rock climbers use professional-grade harnesses and equipment to scale faces up to hundreds of feet in height. Free climbers use that equipment only to prevent serious injuries and do not rely on them for support or aid in navigating difficult sections of the wall. Free solo climbing, or free soloing, takes things to the next level. People who engage in this extreme sport rock climb with no equipment whatsoever.
No one should head out to the wilderness to learn how to rock climb alone. Free soloing should only be considered an option for those who already have plenty of experience with traditional and safer forms of free climbing. Free soloing can be considered the perfection of the sport of rock climbing. It leaves absolutely no room for error, and one tiny mistake can easily leave inexperienced climbers injured or worse. That said, it definitely deserves a spot on the list of the most intense, adrenaline-pumping outdoor sports for exactly those reasons.
Want to get out into the wilderness and test your physical boundaries without literally risking death? Instead of free soloing, try canyoning or canyoneering. This outdoor activity involves using various techniques to navigate often complex routes into and through scenic canyons. It’s admittedly less of an adrenaline rush than climbing hundreds of feet in the air without safety gear. Still, canyoning is also far less likely to wind up getting anyone killed.
Traditionally, canyoneering is performed in mountainous areas with plenty of flowing water. There are plenty of spots to go canyoning in the United States, especially on the west coast, but it’s best to schedule at least a few guided canyoneering tours before setting out solo. Canyoning requires various skills, from boulder-climbing to rappelling down waterfalls and hiking, often for miles, through challenging and unfamiliar terrain.
Ziplining walks the line between extreme sports and slightly tamer outdoor activities. If the zip line is set up properly, no one will ever be in any danger of crashing into trees or falling dozens, or hundreds, of feet to the ground. That said, no one who has ever zoomed through tree canopies supported only by a metal line and a harness at 50-60 miles per hour would deny that it brings a nice adrenaline rush, at least the first few times.
6. Downhill Mountain Biking
Love the idea of hitting the trails, but don’t want to invest in a dirt bike? Mountain biking is a great alternative. There are more mountain bike trails than dirt bike courses, and it’s easier to get out in the woods for real. True adrenaline rush junkies should seek out downhill mountain bike trails, in particular if they want to get some serious air instead of just checking out the scenery. As with dirt biking, it’s worth investing in a decent bike and high-quality safety gear since downhill mountain bikers can take a beating if they fall.
Live near the beach? Chances are, surfing has at least made the list when it comes to fun summer activities. It may not be the most extreme sport on this particular list. Still, it requires a lot of physical prowess, endurance, and commitment to the craft, and there is definitely a unique rush associated with riding the perfect wave. Other board sports like wakeboarding, kiteboarding, and flowboarding can add a unique twist if surfing ever loses its appeal.
8. Freshwater Cave Diving
There are plenty of people out there in the world who consider ocean scuba diving an extreme sport even though it’s actually a very low-impact activity. Freshwater cave diving takes the dangers and excitement of traditional scuba diving to the next level.
Instead of heading out into the open ocean on a boat to check out coral reefs or sunken ships, freshwater cave divers are seeking a different kind of thrill. They flock to places like Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula every year to dive deep into submerged cave systems via the area’s crystal-clear cenotes. This activity is not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic.
9. Volcano Boarding
Believe it or not, there are some people out there who descend the slopes of active volcanoes on plywood toboggans just for fun. Known as volcano boarding, this fun but extremely dangerous outdoor activity will likely require a bit of travel. The sport was initially developed in Nicaragua when an Australian traveler discovered he could toboggan down the slopes using his heels to brake and steer. Volcano boarders routinely reach speeds of 50+ mph.
10. Extreme Kayaking
Even routine kayaking trips offer a great way to work on upper body strength while simultaneously getting out on the water and checking out all kinds of natural beauty. Extreme kayaking encompasses both whitewater and ocean kayaking, and it’s a bit more of a rush. Instead of tame rivers and lakes, extreme kayakers actively seek out a challenge. Just make sure to rent or buy the right type of kayak because a traditional recreational model just isn’t going to cut it.
11. Ice Swimming
Looking for an outdoor activity for winter? Northern Europeans have been engaging in milder versions of contemporary ice swimming for centuries, often jumping from icy pools to sauna sessions. Today, an official ice swim is defined as a one-mile-plus swim in water that is 41 degrees Fahrenheit or colder without a wetsuit.
12. Advanced Skydiving
To finish out the list, let’s return to skydiving very briefly. At this point, skydiving has become something of a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still good for a serious adrenaline rush. Those who have already given tandem skydives a try can take the next step by getting trained to skydive solo, or they can jump straight in the deep end and get into sky surfing or BASE jumping.
The Bottom Line
Most of the activities on this list are not for the faint of heart. Some of them have been practiced for centuries, while others are relatively new inventions. What they all have in common is that they will give outdoor enthusiasts an opportunity to spend time outside and, in most cases, perfect a physically demanding and deeply satisfying sport.
Featured Image by Christo Anestev from Pixabay