I feel there’s nothing like challenging myself with a new and exciting outdoor adventure. There’s just something about facing a challenge, large or small, that pushes me to leave my comfort zone and find out what I’m made of. I’m in no way the most daring person you’ll ever meet, but occasionally I like to venture into the backcountry and spend the night out under the stars or strap myself into a zip line and fly over a raging waterfall!
Does adventure travel have an appeal for you as well? Do you daydream about taking a kayak down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon or booking a surf trip to the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii? You must since you’re here, so welcome!
In this article, I’ll list 20 of the best outdoor adventure activities you need to try at least once in your life. I’ll start with leisurely recreations that families can enjoy together then work my way up to the sphincter-clenching extremes not suitable for the faint of heart!
Whether you’re a thrill-seeker adrenaline junkie or mild-mannered nature enthusiast, the following outdoor pastimes are waiting for you to discover them. You never know, trying one of these might change something within you that you never knew you had. Here’s to your next adventure!
Easiest Outdoor Adventure Activities
Let’s start with some easy interests that pretty much anybody can do. The following 5 are great for anybody easing themselves out of the city and into the wilderness. These are the basics when it comes to experimenting and enjoying nature!
This is probably the first activity, and my personal favorite, that comes to mind when you think about the outdoors. It’s the easiest thing to do when you want to experience nature firsthand. Even a complete beginner, who needs their first pair of hiking boots, can find some type of well-worn path anywhere in the world.
Central Park, NYC even provides a few trails for hiking and that’s in the middle of a few million people and hundreds of millions of tons of steel and concrete. If you want/need a great way to get started exploring the world, I would start with hiking.
The second most common pastime that’ll pop into your head is most likely camping. Something all of our ancestors have done in one way or another if you go back far enough! A step up from hiking, but not much depending on which style you choose. There are many types, like setting up out of your car or booking and staying in a campsite with like-minded individuals at a popular locale.
No matter how you do it, the minutes and hours you spend outside in the open will refresh and energize you in ways that are hard to replicate. Setting up your tent under the starry sky and appreciating nature’s embrace may help you value and cherish your life just a bit more than you usually do.
A truly adventurous way to travel. Backpacking to me is one of the best ways to learn about yourself and the world. It forces you to problem solve, adapt to new environments, meet people you might never have normally spoken to and so much more.
From city-hopping to deep backcountry exploration, the landscapes, wildlife, and fellow backpackers you’ll meet will stay with you for the rest of your life. Armed with only a backpack, trekking poles, and your thoughts, expand your boundaries and Immerse yourself in the essence of exploration!
If you just want to get away from it all, I highly recommend grabbing a fishing pole, renting a cabin, and spending a few days out on a lake. There are many types to choose from like fly fishing, spearfishing, fresh water, or even ice fishing, so think about the energy level you want to achieve and pick accordingly.
My personal favorite is deep-sea fishing. The added element of a huge boat, good friends, and a hint of danger do it for me but there are so many ways you can enjoy this outdoor sport. One thing to note is the bonus of eating your catch after you’ve finished for a tasty dinner! Survival skill – check!
5. Wildlife Safari:
Escaping to Africa is certainly not the cheapest endeavor but it’s hard to believe this list is complete without at least mentioning the idea of immersing yourself amongst wild animals. Indeed, versions exist all over the world if you want to stay local and save a buck or two.
There’s nothing quite like being up close and personal with a 400-pound lion or a ten-foot elephant. It’s quite a different experience than watching it on TV. One thing I can say with confidence though is If you decide on spending the money and experiencing a traditional African Safari, in 20 years you won’t look back on your time in the savanna and wish you stayed home! It could be an expedition of a lifetime!
Medium Outdoor Pursuits
This next group of open-air amusements requires a little bit of skill or a little bit of “face your fears” type energy. They aren’t great for youngsters or those with physical limitations.
They do however provide a jolt of excitement and are of course worthwhile to check out. When trying any of these always remember to be safe and go at a comfortable pace.
6. Standup Paddleboarding (SUP):
I’m not going to lie, this one takes a bit of coordination. You might need to spend a few minutes getting the hang of balancing on your board, but once you do, it’s one of the best ways to relax and take in a new perspective of your surroundings.
Time seems to melt away as you wander around a lake, ride a crashing wave, or paddle around the calm waters of a beautiful bay. Imagine the sun warming your shoulders as friendly dolphins swim around you. What a way to pass the time!
7. Zip Lining:
One of the purest ways to ever experience the feeling of flight is zip-lining high above the trees. Dashing through the air with nothing beneath you, and the ground far below, is a rush few other acts can imitate.
You’ll be sure to get a jolt of adrenaline as you soar through canyons, over rivers, and next to waterfalls! It’s an excellent way to let loose and take in breathtaking views. An aerial experience hard to forget.
Whether solo or in a group, this water sport is fantastic for those who want to break a sweat while checking out some stunning scenery. It’s extremely versatile as well. It’s easy on your joints and wonderful for those who need to de-stress.
If you want to step it up a notch, there are plenty of rivers with crashing waves but usually, kayakers prefer to gently wander around a placid lake or hug the coast of a calm sea. The level of intensity is up to you. Either way, you’ll enjoy the simplicity and peace a great kayaking experience can bring.
9. Mountain Biking:
There are a couple of different ways you can utilize a mountain bike effectively. Some prefer to ride slowly through serene forests and gentle hills, while others can’t wait to bombard a mountainside without thinking about touching their breaks.
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or expert on a bike, this activity is great for exploring in general. No matter around the city or state park, riding a mountain bike is always pleasant. Be sure to put on your safety gear and have fun!
10. Scuba Diving:
One of the best outdoor activities you can participate in is in a place few of us spend much time, underwater. There’s nothing like splashing around in the beautiful waters of an ocean, lagoon, or cove, surrounded by incredible creatures of a different ecosystem.
It does take a bit of training and cost to get certified, but once you do, the world is metaphorically your oyster. The more you frequent the subaquatic bliss, the greater the refusal to return to the surface.
This is only difficult if you have the oh so common fear of heights. If you can get past that, then this activity is most definitely for you! Floating through the air and feeling the wind beneath your wings so to speak is like putting the pause button on everything else going on in your life.
When I went parasailing in Hawaii I was about 500 feet in the air, but the ocean looked like it was only 10 feet below me and it was a sensation I can relive over and over again just by thinking about it. It was quite surreal!
12. Whitewater Rafting:
One of my favorite great outdoor exploits has to be whitewater rafting. Spending two and a half hours on the roaring rapids feels like two and a half minutes. It’s truly a must for thrill seekers and extreme sports enthusiasts alike.
I’ll never forget my first time flying down a river in South America. I was in this tiny town named Baños, known as the adventure capital of Ecuador. A group of strangers and I ventured out in a class 4 rapid, with a guide, and had the times of our lives. We even flipped over and got dunked in the icy cold waters. Epic!
Difficult Outdoor Adventure Activities
Now we come to the most difficult outdoor adventure activities on the list. These all require a lot of balance, strength, stamina or bravery when it comes to pushing yourself to the limits! If you can master all of these, then you are one of the few in the world that can!
The idea of throwing on a set of skis or binding yourself to a snowboard can be daunting, particularly if you’ve never attempted gliding downhill on a set of man-made planks before. It’s also not the cheapest hobby in the world. A three-day stay at a nice ski lodge will surely set you back a paycheck or two.
Having said that, it’s completely worth it. One of the most memorable trips of my life was a week-long snowboarding trip to Lake Tahoe with some friends. We snowboarded a new mountain resort each day and recovered in a scalding hot jacuzzi every night. Our legs were sore and our pocketbooks were empty, but I wouldn’t have skipped it for anything.
Now I know it’s not the easiest skill to pick up but if you make learning part of the adventure, you can’t go wrong!
As soon as you ride that first wave, harnessing the power of the ocean as you go, you’ll be hooked! It’s also a great challenge to master the art of balance and agility that you don’t really get doing anything else.
This one can be a little intimidating, especially to those who are new to it. I would suggest starting slowly with easy and shallow systems. Check out this article on how to stay safe if you’re unsure of how to go about it.
Don’t let fear stop you from at least looking into it because exploring subterranean worlds can be quite an eye-opening experience! When you squeeze through a narrow passage and marvel at the underground formations, it’ll be like going to another planet!
16. Horseback Riding:
If you can, get some time to visit a ranch and arrange a horse ride. The feeling and power of an animal underneath you can be unnerving, yet revitalizing. Sometimes you have to put your trust in things that you don’t have complete control over.
Undoubtedly, this sensation will roll over you as you sit on top of a creature much stronger than yourself. It’s strange and unique. It’s an extraordinary way to traverse scenic landscapes while immersing yourself in the harmony of humans and nature.
One of the most popular ways to explore a national park is by hiring a tour guide who’ll teach you how to navigate the ins and outs of captivating canyons. Climbing over ancient rock formations and cascading down mighty waterfalls is such a blast, it’s hard to put into words!
When I visited Zion National Park in Southern Utah, I had the pleasure of exploring The Narrows. A famous watery gash through hundred-foot walls of sedimentary rock. It was one of the best places I’ve been to in my life. If you get a chance, go!
18. Rock Climbing:
Activities like rock climbing can be a bit intimidating. The idea of hanging by a rope, even a few feet off of the ground, can make your head spin and hands sweat. The great thing about it though is you can start small.
If you’re worried about your abilities, head to a local climbing gym and start with the basics. After a while of pushing your limits, you’ll want to tackle the real thing. Believe me, all of your day-to-day problems will melt away as you climb the side of a rocky cliff. Not only does it test your strength, agility, and problem-solving skills, but it also gives you a great workout to boot! Give it a shot!
This might be the scariest activity on the list for some. The fear of heights can be a roadblock difficult to get over. If you’re able though, to muster up the courage and experience the ultimate adrenaline rush, the feeling of a successful skydive is incredible.
Free falling from 5,000 feet as an amateur daredevil before popping your chute and gracefully descending will be something you keep with you for as long as you live. Check out a local skydiving company today!
20. Bungee Jumping:
I don’t know how you feel about it but I think the ultimate fear-inducing thing anybody can do safely is jumping off a platform with nothing but a rope tied to your feet. It doesn’t matter if you’re fifty, or five hundred feet high, looking over the edge and forcing yourself to step off is a cathartic experience.
Completing a simple jump might lead to breakthroughs in your life on a personal level. Gathering up the courage and leaping off on your own takes an incredible amount of internal strength. If you’re able to do it, there’s not a hurdle in life that you can’t overcome. Feeling the exhilarating rush of complete free fall is truly unmatched.
Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed reading my article and are now ready to try something new out in the wild! If you don’t want to try your hand at some of the scarier stunts, at least pick the 10 best that suits you most and start there. I usually recommend something low-risk and easy like hiking and camping to begin with.
Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping escapades or basking in the tranquility of nature, these activities promise unforgettable moments and deep connections that will last a lifetime.
So what do you think? Did I miss any you feel should be included? If so, shoot me a comment and maybe I’ll add it to the list! In the meantime, pack your gear, embrace the unknown, and embark on a wonderful outdoor excursion – the world of adventure awaits!