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Get a Rush with California Adventure Experiences

Get a Rush with California Adventure Experiences ( Adventure travelers are everywhere, including the Golden State, which naturally provides a perfect venue for exciting activities.
And the statistics back up this travel trend. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, one-half of U.S. adults, or 98 million people, have taken an adventure trip in the past five years. This includes 31 million adults who engaged in more rigorous adventure activities, such as whitewater rafting, scuba diving and mountain biking.
“As travelers continue to push the envelope, what was once considered extreme is now packaged under adventure travel,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Caroline Beteta of the California Travel and Tourism Commission (CTTC). “And you don’t have to travel around the world to get that rush. California offers adventure experiences in spades whether visitors’ interests are by land or sea.”
For many of us, it took years to comfortably get back in the water after the 1975 release of the Steven Spielberg classic thriller Jaws. And now the Aquarium of the Pacific, based in Long Beach and part of the Los Angeles County Region, is encouraging guests to face those distant fears at their Aquarium’s Shark Encounter Program, a two-hour, behind-the-scenes tour that lets participants get wet with some of the Aquarium’s shark residents, and even assist with their afternoon public shark feed. In nearby Los Angeles visitors can fly to new heights with the city’s first-ever indoor skydiving wind tunnel. Housed in the world’s tallest and most technologically advanced wind tunnel, iFLY Hollywood suspends thrill seekers at heights of up to 30 feet and wind speeds of more than 125 miles per hour, with a 360-degree view of the CityWalk’s pedestrian promenade.
In the open water, adventurers take the plunge with Surf Diva, one of the country’s most popular surfing schools. Located on the La Jolla Shores in the San Diego County Region, surfing professionals teach women, children and men (through their “Guys on the Side” program) the fundamentals of surfing with weekend and week-long clinics, as well as group and private lessons for all skill levels. Located in La Jolla, Torrey Pines Gliderport is a world-class flying site and one of the most successful paragliding schools in North America. Here guests can experience tandem hang gliding, paragliding or sailplane flights with certified instructors.
Heading north along the coast, Huntington Beach is a favorite surf beach for visitors and local residents, and you don’t have to be a top professional to surf there – the waves aren’t as big as some of California’s other popular surfing venues. Adventurers can choose from a number of surf providers along the beach in this part of the Orange County Region. Toes on the Nose, located in the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort&Spa, provides individual, private and group lessons. Don’t let the quaintness of Seal Beach fool you. This area is a playground for travelers seeking the ultimate ocean rush. Here kite surfing, using the wind and a kite to pull you through the water on a small surfboard, is for intermediates or advanced-level riders only since the limited launch access corridor requires the ability to kite board upwind back to your launch point.
Visitors can keep reasonably dry paddling the open water in a single, double or triple kayak with the Half Moon Bay Kayak Company, headquartered on the Northern California coast of the San Francisco Bay Area Region. Guided tours are available that showcase the area’s dynamic and diverse environment, as well as seals, birds (pelicans, herons, egrets and loons) and other marine life. Travelers to the region can also soar as free as a bird over the California coast with tandem hang gliding rides in the San Francisco area. California Hang Gliding, based in the Bay Area, offers two popular flights: the Westlake Tandem Flight with flights over the San Francisco coast and the Mt. Tamalpais Tandem Flight, known for its spectacular view of the Point Reyes peninsula and Stinson Beach.
Moving inland, adventure travelers go underground in the Gold County Region while visiting Gold Cliff Mine in Angels Camp. After a brief surface tour that includes historical information about the mine, such as its run in the Gold Rush era, visitors go on a guided tour to the mine’s deeper passages and chambers. The route includes diagonal hiking, climbing and crawling using knotted hand-lines on a 45 to 50-degree slope, and negotiating loose rubble. The total distance traveled is approximately 1 mile and includes exploration of two large chambers and rafting across a flooded 100-foot-deep mine stope, an area of the mine where ore was extracted. Thrill seekers can also get wet in the summer months via whitewater rafting on the American River, especially in the Sierra Nevada foothills near the historic cities of Auburn and Coloma, where the water goes from a Class 3 up to a Class 5.
In the Deserts Region, some of the best high-desert rock climbing in the country can be found at Joshua Tree National Park, with its traditional–style crack, slab and steep-face climbing. With more than 400 climbing formations and 8,000 climbing routes, Joshua Tree National Park offers challenging climbs for all ability levels . Those new to climbing and bouldering, low-to-the-ground climbing when a rope and belay are not necessary, can hook up with a variety of climbing schools that provide equipment and shoes for a fun and safe introduction to the sport. While in the desert, adventurers may also want to join in on a jeep tour. Desert Adventures offers unique twilight jeep tours and an Extreme Joshua Tree Tour that starts at sea level in Palm Desert and takes an off-road route to an elevation of 4,200 feet in just two hours.
For dome climbing, rock climbers head to Courtright Reservoir in Fresno County’s High Sierra for its bare granite domes (with the largest being eight pitches) that rise from the reservoir’s shores and above the deep canyon cut by Helms Creek, located on the northern end of the lake. Here Ice Age glaciers sculpted the mountain peaks, slopes and valleys, giving them their unique present day shape. To the east, Mt. Goddard rises majestically with an elevation of more than 13,500 feet. Adventurers to this end of the Central Valley Region can climb more than a dozen domes, including Trapper, Leopold, Penstemon and Spring Domes. Biking in itself in the Central Valley isn’t extreme, unless it’s endurance cycling, where participants climb long, steep hills on a tour taking place, for the most part, at 5,000 feet above sea level and a high point above 9,000 feet. Each year, the Fresno Cycling Club invites riders to take the challenge of the Climb to Kaiser, which is 155 miles and 13,500 feet – all in one day. This year, the event takes place June 28. The race starts and ends in Clovis and is rated one of the 10 toughest rides in the country by Bicycling magazine.
There’s a good reason river kayakers wear helmets. In Humboldt County and the North Coast Region, the Klamath River is one of the few wild rivers in California with plenty of water year-round. There aren’t any crowds, especially on the lower Klamath River, which runs through northern Humboldt County before reaching the Pacific Ocean near the town of Klamath. Along this stretch of river, during a trip ranging from two to five days, the river banks change from arid canyons to thick forests and kayakers go through Class 2 and Class 3 rapids in rock gorges with ominous names, such as Rattlesnake, Devil’s Toenail and Dragon’s Tooth. Off the water and onto the speedway, thrill seekers can learn to drive a racecar like the professionals at the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. The school provides drivers at all levels with the opportunity to compete on the challenging 12-turn Infineon Raceway road course, and offers courses in open-wheel, formula Mitsubishi race cars that can reach speeds of up to 120 miles per hour. Classes range from a half day to three days and include seat time and one-on-one instruction.
But racecars won’t cut it at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA), formerly Pismo Dunes SVRA, in the Central Coast Region. Here ATVs, Hummers and other types of off-road vehicles reign supreme as visitors can drive and camp on the beach – it’s the only state park in California where they may do so. Oceano Dunes SVRA is located within the 15,000-acre Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes complex, and riding the dunes is one of the area’s most popular adventure activities.
For a different type of horsepower, adventure seekers turn to, well, horses. Located in Shingletown in the Shasta Cascade Region, the Wild Horse Sanctuary offers two and three-day trail rides, from May 3 through October, that follow trails created by the wild horses and burros that roam free and live out their natural lives within the 5,000-acre sanctuary. Guests ride through a scenic landscape of oaks and pines, rock outcroppings created by volcanic activity years ago, wildflowers, and meandering streams and meadows, populated by diverse wildlife that includes more than 150 species of song birds. After a day of riding the range, visitors enjoy a relaxing evening at the base camp, which includes story telling around the campfire and a hearty barbeque dinner.
Man’s best friend also gets into the act via Sierra Nevada dog sledding excursions in the valley at the base of famed ski resort Squaw Valley USA. The luxurious Resort at Squaw Creek offers on-property dog sledding, perfect for even the youngest of adventure seekers, via tour operator Wilderness Adventures. With their Alaskan huskie-led sleds, guests get a thrill as they pass across the snowy meadow in this part of the High Sierra Region. Some of the huskies have participated in the Iditarod, and some are in training to take on that challenge in the future. The sleds – or toboggans, as they are often called – travel at 10 miles per hour, with tours running one hour. There’s little doubt that in Mono County, one of the most spirited adventure sports takes place on a cold, slippery surface – the unlikeliest of things to climb. But ice climbing has found a home among adrenaline junkies, and they’re flocking to the area each winter to ascend a 60-story-tall wall of it. Mono County is a center for ice climbing in California because of its north-facing, eastern Sierra canyons that provide ideal conditions from December through March. Three frozen walls on a 600-foot-tall granite face in Lee Vining Canyon (Bard Harrington Wall, Main Wall and Chouinard Falls) are the most favored.
Adventurers can take their bikes off the paved path in Big Bear Lake located in the Inland Empire Region. Here, mountain biking means off-road and often maneuvering over rough terrain that works best on a high-performance mountain bike with front fork or dual suspension (shock absorbers). Visitors can bring their own bike or rent at one of the many shops around town, then head to John Bull Loop Bike Trail or Grout Bay Bike Trail. The John Bull Trail is a 14.9-mile intermediate ride that starts at the base of Van Dusen Canyon and becomes steep, rutted and sandy. The Grout Bay Trail is also a good intermediate ride (13 miles) that starts at the Fawnskin Fire Station. For those interested in guided bike tours, Bear Valley Bikes offers some of the best professionals.
The CTTC is a non-profit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs – in partnership with the state's travel industry – that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. According to the CTTC, travel and tourism expenditures total $93.8 billion annually in California, support jobs for 929,000 Californians and generate $5.6 billion in state and local tax revenues. For more information about the CTTC and for a free California vacation packet, go to

Jennifer Jasper, CTTC 916-319-5428 Amelia Neufeld, CTTC 916-319-5424 Christine Pierson, Edelman PR 916-442-2331

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