A cyclist on Knik Glacier, Anchorage, US

Extreme Travel Adventures: The Most Extreme Vacations in the US

One of the best parts of travel is the ability to step out of your comfort zone. After all, the whole point of taking time out of your everyday life is to enjoy something new, right? While lazy beach vacations certainly have their place, nothing quite feels like pushing yourself and trying something a little more exciting.

The idea of “extreme vacations” may not be for everyone, but if you’re ready to take the plunge and walk on the wild side during your next vacation, one of the best places to do so is in the USA. From white-water rafting to camping in expansive national parks and everything in between, we’ve put together a collection of some of the most extreme vacations in the US!


Travel on: an adventure tour to the USA


Surfing in Sandy Beach, Honolulu
The US is home to some renowned surfing spots! | © Drew Farwell/Unsplash

Choosing the best extreme vacation for you

“Extreme” means something different to everybody, so the first question you’ll need to answer is what does it mean to you? For some, it might mean roughing it in the great outdoors, putting aside creature comforts like indoor plumbing and wi-fi. For others, it means getting your heart pounding through physically exerting days and testing their own limits. Before you book an extreme vacation of your own, there are a few things to consider.

  1. Time of year. If you’re the type of adventurer looking to go cross-country-skiing and camping, you’re probably not going to want to leave in July. On the other hand, travellers looking to hike or trek should consider the soaring temperatures that hit the United States in the summer months, and prepare accordingly! Figure out when your perfect adventure fits into your schedule, and go from there.
  2. Interests. It’s always great to stretch yourself and try new things, but you should also make sure you have some interest in what you’ll be doing, as well as the ability to do it. For example, before booking a multi-day hiking tour, try to get out for a couple of practise hikes back home first. It’ll let you know if you enjoy it, and get you prepared for the bigger trip!
  3. Location. Is there a state you’ve always wanted to visit? Maybe you dream of surfing off the coast of California, or snowboarding in Colorado is on top of your bucket list? Carefully consider what part of the United States you want to visit: the country is larger and more diverse than you may have thought!
  4. Ability level. It’s worth repeating: before you head out on an extreme vacation, make sure you’ll be able to complete it safely and while having fun! If your dream trip seems like too much of a stretch right now, spend some time mentally and physically preparing before you book it, and always have an emergency plan in case the worst happens.


Camping in Flaming Gorge Reservoir | © Patrick Hendry/Unsplash

Extreme activities to do in the US

  • Ice trekking: While you may not imagine the US having plentiful glaciers for daring travellers to trek across, the country certainly delivers! Spend your days braving the cold and taking in some of the most incredible glacial views.
  • Camping: If there’s one thing the US knows how to do, it’s camp. Spend a night under the stars in the desert, or hike deep into a lush forest. It’s the perfect way to get back to nature.
  • Digital Detox: This may not seem extreme to everyone, but for some, leaving the technology at home is a leap of faith! The US offers plenty of retreats and opportunities for reconnecting with yourself in a phone-free zone.
  • White-water rafting: The thrill of guiding your raft through rapids and down waterfalls is one that keeps many adventurers coming back for more time and time again. Will you be one of them?
  • Hiking: There are countless hiking trails in the United States, from sprawling national parks to local, winding trails. If you’re a hiker, a visit to at least a couple of them must be on your list.
  • Skiing: Skiing, snowboarding, or any other alpine sport enthusiasts flock to the United States, and it’s easy to see why! From bunny hills to black diamond slopes, you’ll be able to find an adventure that fits your definition of extreme.


A cyclist on Knik Glacier, Anchorage, US
There are plenty of opportunities for extreme cycling in the US! | © Paxson Woelber/Unsplash

Extreme vacations we love

7 Day Southwest National Parks Grand Canyon Camping Tour

This tour is perfect for the traveller looking to see more than one state on their US adventure! Beginning in Zion National Park, travellers will also visit the Bryce, Arches, and Canyonland National Parks. No trip to the Southwest would be complete without a visit to the Grand Canyon, of course, and this tour comes complete with an optional helicopter ride over one of the seven natural wonders of the world!

Methow Cross-Country Ski Tour

This 6-day ski trip in the American Pacific Coast includes ski lessons for travellers just starting out, and miles of trails for those looking to fully immerse themselves in the world of cross-country skiing. This tour also includes options for relaxation, like massages and a stay in a ski resort with all the extras, including a hot tub!

A woman cross-country skiing on the Mayflower Gulch Trail, Frisco, US
Cross-country skiing is a refreshing adventure! | © Holly Mandarich/Unsplash

Alaska: Ocean Wildlife to Interior Wilderness Adventure

This 11-day tour really has it all! Come face to face with bears, visit three different national parks, and even take a helicopter ride to take it all in. This is a great tour for animal lovers: not only will you see bears, you’ll enjoy a visit to the Alaska Sealife Centre, go whale-watching, and get to see all of the incredible animals that call the wild state of Alaska home.

Grand Canyon Rafting

Did someone say white-water rafting? If you’re looking for a white-water adventure that really allows travellers to connect with nature, this is it. Over the course of this 8-day tour, travellers will raft nearly 300 miles while camping on riverbanks. It’s a truly unforgettable experience, by anyone’s definition of “extreme!”

White water rafting in Ocoee, US
A white water rafting trip is sure to get your heart racing! | © Julie Thornton/Unsplash

No matter how you picture your next trip – whether it’s lounging on the beach or powering through rapids – the most important thing is for it to be exactly what you want it to be. The best part? With some research and planning, it can be!

What’s your idea of “extreme?” What’s the most extreme thing you’ve done on vacation?

Maggie is a life-long traveller who, after three years abroad, has returned home to Toronto, where she works as a Content Editor at TourRadar. When she's not reading, writing, or dreaming about her next trip, she can usually be found cooing over other people's dogs or hunting down Mexican food.

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