If you’re missing a bit of action and excitement in your day to day life then embarking on an adventure holiday is a sure way to fire up the adrenalin. While most prefer to sit back and take it easy when on holiday, others find that a rigorous physical accomplishment, and a sense of adventure, is a far better way to see the world and recharge one’s batteries. And there is nowhere better on earth than the Pacific Coast of North America for finding exhilarating holidays in the splendour of the natural world. Here is a look at some of the best places out west, plus a suitable European alternative, for thrills-seekers of all ages.
Channel Islands, California
The isles of Jersey and Guernsey aren’t the only Channel Islands on earth, California’s very own archipelago of the same name, lying a dozen or so miles out to sea from Los Angeles, are home to some of the best preserved landscapes in America. Sail out into the ocean on your sea kayak to experience these protected nature reserves at their best, paddling into quiet coves and landing on beautiful, isolated beaches. The islands are also home to superb hiking trails, where walkers can spy endemic species such as the slender salamander, the spotted skunk and the night lizard. Animal lovers should also stay alert for sightings of the Island Fox, a species native to the islands and one of the smallest types of fox in the world. If you require something a little more exciting, then the Channel Islands also provide one of America’s finest habitats for scuba diving, though waters this far out in the Pacific Ocean tend to get a little chilly, so think about bringing a wet suit.
Owyhee River, Oregon
Known locally as Oregon’s very own Grand Canyon, the impressive Owyhee River valley is a must for anyone interested in tackling tough rapids and ferocious falls as part of a white water rafting holiday. Best sampled during the early summer, the river here swells to a mighty torrent, and the deep chasms are home to some of the most extreme white water rafting courses in the world.
Whistler, British Columbia
For those traveling in the winter months, some of the finest snow can be found in the Canadian ski resort of Whistler. A site for the recent Winter Olympics, Whistler is a cosy resort full of pistes for skiers at all levels of expertise, and is also home to one of the most vibrant snow-boarding communities in the world. If you are brave, or foolish enough, try some of the highest peaks for high-speed, downhill slaloms that will leave the hairs on your neck standing on end.
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite is famous the world over for incredible mountains and valleys, searing waterfalls and jagged peaks. It also happens to be a superb place for extreme sports enthusiasts, with sheer rock climbs up El Capitan, a near vertical rock-face, and paragliding from high altitudes amongst the range of activities on offer here. An ideal place for an adventure camp holiday, Yosemite wows with its mix of natural beauty and dare-devil excitement.
If you cannot afford to shell out on expensive airfares then fear not, as Europe boasts superb adventure holidays that can rival the very best that the American West has to offer. The alpine resort of Tignes, in particular, offers a comprehensive range of exciting activities all year round, making it a superb option for summer programs and winter excursions alike. Whether you are into mountain biking, abseiling, archery, horse riding, swimming skiing or more, there is bound to be a thrilling adventure activity on hand for you in the pristine surroundings of Tignes.
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John is a travel writer who has written about everything from the best summer programs for kids to the finest places in the world to go fishing.