RUN, DIVE AND RIDE
Destinations made to thrill across North America
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.
CABO SAN LUCAS (MEXICO)
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.
WISCONSIN DELLS (WISCONSIN)
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
LAS VEGAS (NEVADA)
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.
Snorkeling with otters at Discovery Cove