Des­ti­na­tions made to thrill across North Amer­ica

Los Angeles Times - - TRAVEL - —JOE YOGERST Cus­tom Pub­lish­ing Writer

I nstead of the usual go-to places — theme parks and beaches — why not try some­thing new this sum­mer? Span­gled across North Amer­ica are plenty of ways to get wet and wild, from wa­ter parks and white­wa­ter raft­ing to ad­ven­ture parks, bungee jump­ing and more.


Al­ready blessed with amaz­ing beaches and in­cred­i­ble wa­ter sports, Cabo has added a dash of desert fun to its al­ready loaded va­ca­tion of­fer­ings.

In a rocky gorge near Chileno Bay, Wild Canyon Ad­ven­tures is an adren­a­line-fu­eled won­der­land that in­cludes a mon­ster zi­pline, a gi­ant swing and bungee­jump­ing from a gon­dola hov­er­ing more than 100 feet above the canyon.

Over on the Pa­cific side of the penin­sula, G-Force Ad­ven­tures spe­cial­izes in all-ter­rain ve­hi­cle and util­ity task ve­hi­cle rides on its own maze-like desert cir­cuit or along the beach. More ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers can pi­lot a twop­er­son UTV on part of the Baja 1000 off-road race route.


If you think Or­lando is all about the Magic King­dom, think again. In­stead of Cin­derella’s Cas­tle, your lit­tle prince or princess can dive into four ma­jor wa­ter­parks — Aquat­ica, Vol­cano Bay, Typhoon La­goon and Bl­iz­zard Beach.

Dis­cov­ery Cove at SeaWorld Or­lando takes the marine theme park con­cept to a whole new level with ac­tive ad­ven­tures like swim­ming with dol­phins, Snuba div­ing a trop­i­cal reef, snor­kel­ing be­side ot­ters and wad­ing into a pool full of rays.

Else­where in Cen­tral Florida, you can get some ga­tor ac­tion on a hair-rais­ing air­boat ride through the swamp or per­fect your wake­board or wa­ter-ski­ing tech­niques at var­i­ous schools and camps on the fresh­wa­ter lakes around Or­lando.


The Dells is where much of the Mid­west gets wet and wild each sum­mer. Scat­tered along the Wis­con­sin River, the pop­u­lar re­sort town of­fers four huge wa­ter parks — Noah’s Ark, Mt. Olym­pus, Chula Vista and the Africa-themed Kala­hari — as well as zi­plines, go-karts, ad­ven­ture parks, pad­dle sports and mo­tor­boat­ing.

North of Chicago on In­ter­state-90, the Dells and Windy City are a ter­rific one-two punch. Some of the more ad­ven­tur­ous things you can do in Chicago are the amuse­ment rides on leg­endary Navy Pier, the ver­tigoin­duc­ing Ledge on the Sky­deck at the top of Wil­lis Tower, and sit­ting in the bleach­ers at a Cubs game.


“Al­most heaven,” sang John Den­ver back in the 1970s. Since then the Moun­tain State has evolved into a heaven for out­door ad­ven­tur­ers, too. Hov­er­ing 876 feet above the wa­ter, New River Bridge is one of the holy grails of Amer­i­can BASE and bungee jump­ing — although you can only do it legally one day per year (Bridge Day in Oc­to­ber).

New River Gorge is a hub for out­door sports like hik­ing, rock climb­ing and zi­plin­ing. Far­ther down­stream, Hawk’s Nest of­fers jet­boat rides and an aerial tramway. One of the world’s most chal­leng­ing white­wa­ter raft­ing and kayak runs, the Gauley River drops an in­cred­i­ble 668 feet in 25 miles — a wa­tery ob­sta­cle course of steep drops and huge waves.


Van­cou­ver is home to one of the world’s old­est “white knuckle” at­trac­tions — the 1889 Capi­lano Sus­pen­sion Bridge — a death-de­fy­ing pedes­trian span that swings, bucks and bounces 230 feet above a forested canyon.

In re­cent years, Capi­lano Gorge has added other adren­a­line-pump­ing at­trac­tions like the Clif­fwalk along the gran­ite walls above the river and Tree­top Ad­ven­tures, which af­fords a “squir­rel’s eye view” of the Bri­tish Columbia rain­for­est from seven foot­bridges sus­pended 110 feet above the for­est floor.

Dur­ing the sum­mer months, the Whistler snow sports re­sort in the moun­tains north of Van­cou­ver turns its at­ten­tion to hik­ing, moun­tain bik­ing, bungee jump­ing, white­wa­ter raft­ing and other out­door ad­ven­ture sports. Raft­ing the New River in West Vir­ginia


They’re not kid­ding when they call it the ur­ban jun­gle. If cur­rent head­lin­ers Brit­ney Spears and Ricky Martin don’t ring your bell, Ve­gas of­fers plenty of other ways to get your heart pal­pi­tat­ing.

Leap off the top of the Strato­sphere ho­tel on the na­tion’s high­est com­mer­cial (“le­gal”) bungee jump — an 829-foot plunge at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Start­ing from a 12-story-high launch pad, the SlotZilla zi­pline threads Fre­mont Street at a sim­i­lar speed, a flash of neon and noise be­fore you land 2-1/2 blocks away.

Ve­gas is close to a dozen dif­fer­ent na­tional parks that of­fer fully or­ganic out­door ad­ven­tures, in­clud­ing the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Lake Mead and Death Val­ley. In these parks you can bungee jump off the Navajo Bridge over Mar­ble Canyon, white­wa­ter raft down the Colorado River in the bot­tom of the Grand Canyon, or kayak Black Canyon be­low Hoover Dam.

Photo courtesy of SeaWorld Or­lando

Snor­kel­ing with ot­ters at Dis­cov­ery Cove

Photo courtesy of Visit South­ern West Vir­ginia

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