The Extreme Adventures All Thrill-Seekers Need To Experience

The Extreme Adventures All Thrill-Seekers Need To Experience

By California.com
September 21, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

Live life on the wild side and experience California's most extreme adventures. Whether you want to bungee jump in Los Angeles, skydive in Santa Cruz, trek the Sierra Nevada mountain range, or windsurf the state's rad waves, the West Coast has you covered when it comes to extreme activities. But if you don't know where to start, check out these exhilarating excursions in California that you need to add to your bucket list now.

Adrenaline-pumping activities in Northern California

Savor spectacular views of Tahoe while you glide through the sky on 3,300-foot-long zip lines.

Zipline Through The Tahoe National Forest

Imagine hanging on to a rope as you swing through the forest, secured only by a safety harness. Sound compelling? Go extreme ziplining with your friends or fam at Tahoe Treetop Adventure Parks. You can experience a bird’s eye view of Lake Tahoe’s breathtaking scenery while satisfying your inner daredevil.

The park features several tree platforms connected by a variety of bridges, ladders, and ziplines, making it all the more fun to explore. A few of the bridges are shaky, others are a piece of cake, and some are quite the challenge—there's nothing you can't handle though, and as soon as you step off the platform, you'll feel as free as a bird. 

Enjoy a unique racing experience with VIP trips, top race car rentals, and professional instructions. Photo courtesy of Exclusive Track Days.

Get Behind The Wheel At a Racing Arena

Visitors from around the country come to Monterey County for its mouthwatering restaurants, magnificent golf courses, and pristine beaches—oh, and the iconic road courses. The area is historically significant for the U.S. car racing scene and hosts popular car shows each year, so if you've ever wanted to feel like a NASCAR driver, now's your chance.

Feel the adrenaline course through your veins as you put the pedal to the metal at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Rent your dream race car from Exclusive Track Days or Lesher Motorsports, and take control of the wheel. Make sure to reserve your car and book your time at the track in advance.

Feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins while tandem skydiving over Santa Cruz. Photo courtesy of GoJump Santa Cruz.

Skydive in Santa Cruz

Considered one of the most extreme things to do on the Central Coast, skydiving should be added to your bucket list—pronto. Any thrill-seeker will love skydiving because it's one of the best adrenaline-pumping activities. So, book your experience with GoJump Santa Cruz, and you'll soon be on your way to jumping out of a plane from 13,000 feet (with an experienced instructor, of course).

While you're in freefall at a speed of 120 miles per hour, you'll feel your heart thumping rapidly and the wind against your face. But as soon as the parachute opens, you'll enjoy a calming and scenic ride back to land. Witness the waves crashing along the shores of the Pacific, and admire the beautiful views of Santa Cruz County stretching below you. 

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Extreme things to do in Southern California

Ride across the undulating dunes at Pismo Beach to enjoy miles of shoreline beauty while boosting your adrenaline.

Ride ATVs at Pismo Beach

Riding quads at Pismo Beach is a local's favorite pastime, so join in on the fun and experience the miles of gorgeous shoreline firsthand. After all, this coastal town is the only place in the state where you're free to drive an ATV right on the beach. Rent your four-wheeler at Arnie’s ATV Rentals or Steve’s ATV Rentals, then hit the sand. Once you're done with your thrilling ride on the dunes, round out your Central Coast adventure by visiting the nearby town of San Luis Obispo and trekking through Montaña de Oro State Park.

Get a glimpse of life underwater and relieve stress while scuba diving at Catalina Island.

Scuba Dive Along The Los Angeles Coast

Adrenaline junkies, it's time you explore the wondrous Pacific Ocean and sign up for a scuba diving excursion with Eco Dive Center. If you're a newbie, take a private scuba lesson or get your Open Water Diver Certification. If you're an advanced diver looking to up the ante, take the Night Diver Certification or Deep Diver Certification Course to brave the nighttime or deep waters teeming with life. No matter what you decide, make sure to book a trip with Eco Dive, too. The company offers numerous all-day diving adventures along the Southern California coast.

One must-visit spot for any scuba diver is Catalina Island. An hour-long ferry ride away from Los Angeles, this island is arguably the best shore dive destination in SoCal. Divers can step right into the warm waters from the Casino Point Dive Park and venture into the sea to explore rocky reefs. Aquatic creatures such as nudibranchs, angel sharks, and sea lions will accompany you throughout the dive. Keep an eye out for Catalina's famous resident—the enormous black sea bass—in the waters, too.

Extend your SoCal scuba trip even more by visiting Channel Islands National Park. Often compared to Ecuador's province of the Galapagos Islands, the Channel Islands are as untamed and unfrequented—truly an advanced diver's dream. There's something surreal about the desolate waters that your soul will surely enjoy. Getting to the Channel Islands from L.A. is an adventure on its own. Start by riding the train from Los Angeles to Ventura, where you'll hop on the ferry for an hour and 40 minutes to reach the islands. The rocky shorelines of the Channel Islands are home to a diverse array of wildlife, from sea lions and sea birds to whales and dolphins. Looming kelp forests support the marine ecosystem and are exhilarating to meander through. 

If you're in the mood to catch some waves, too, you're in luck: The Channel Islands are a great place for surfing (especially if you like thrills). The best surf spots are off of the Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and the Santa Miguel Islands; just note that they are remote and require private boat access due to the islands' rugged terrain. Pick up a surfboard or build a custom board from Channel Islands Surfboards, then make your way to the destinations—may the surfing escapades begin. 

Rappel down looming rock formations in Malibu Creek State Park, a mecca for rock climbers of all skill levels.

Rock Climb In Malibu

Whether you're an avid rock climber or a first-time enthusiast of the sport, head to Malibu Creek State Park for some epic rock climbing. The 8,215-acre park boasts a wide range of climbing routes to choose from, making it an ideal place to partake in this outdoor extreme sport.

If you're looking to learn the ropes or improve your skills, sign up for a class with Rock N Rope Adventures and prepare for a fun, educational experience. You'll learn the fundamentals of rock climbing and basic belaying techniques, then have the chance to put your knowledge to the test. 

One of the top rock climbing spots in the park is Mount Gorgeous. At an elevation of 678 feet, this mountain definitely lives up to its name. The climb offers long routes and is one of the more popular destinations in the canyon for experienced climbers. The area also encompasses a collection of moderate climbs perfect for beginners. The canopy trees provide plenty of shade during your adventure, making it comfortable to visit in the summer months.

The Ghetto Wall in Malibu Creek State Park also draws droves of rock climbers. This wall offers a 900-foot elevation, offering the highest cluster of steep climbing routes. The pocketed volcanic rock provides the perfect grip feature to help climbers make their way to the top. Although The Ghetto Wall was most suitable for advanced climbers at first, recent improvements have made it more accessible for all levels.

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