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5 of the Best Adventure Travel Destinations in America

By AAA Travel Editor Frank Swanson
February 03, 2020
Most travelers look forward to safe, relaxing vacations filled with nothing more taxing than a little sightseeing and an afternoon of shopping. If you crave more adventurous things to do, take a look at these five destinations that promise pulse-pounding thrills, intense physical challenges and unforgettable experiences that are about as far from ordinary as you can get.

Kaua‘i Backcountry Adventures

3-4131 Kūhiō Hwy.
Hanamaulu, Hawaii
(808) 245-2506
Go Ziplining! Whoosh down the side of a mountain suspended from a zipline high above Kauaiʻi’s lush tropical landscape for a heart-pounding thrill ride you won’t forget. Among the adventurous things to do at Kaua‘i Backcountry Adventures are zipline courses that will give you a bird’s-eye tour of the rainforest as you descend a series of seven ziplines to the valley floor. One course includes a visit to beautiful Hali’i Falls tucked away amongst the thousands of forested acres of this former plantation.
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Kelly Park and Rock Springs

400 E. Kelly Park Rd.
Apopka, Florida
(407) 254-1902
Go Kayaking! Florida is not all beaches and theme parks, despite its popular image. Just a short drive northwest of Orlando, Rock Springs Run offers a scenic alternative to the manmade amusements most tourists see. Rent a kayak at Kings Landing and experience the Sunshine State’s natural side as you go with the flow of cool, clear spring water lazily making its way to the Wekiva River. As you paddle through wetlands beneath moss-draped cypress trees, you’ll have turtles, otters, birds of every description and possibly an alligator or two for company.
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River Expeditions

900 Broadway Ave.
Oak Hill, West Virginia
(304) 574-2827
Go Rafting! Brace yourself for a wild white-water ride on West Virginia’s Gauley River courtesy of River Expeditions. Known for some of the most challenging Class V+ rapids, the Gauley River is not for the first-timer or faint of heart. As you’re tossed about in your bucking inflatable raft, you may not notice the magnificent gorges and densely forested hillsides around you, so plan to spend a few extra days in the area just so you can appreciate the scenery at this adventure travel destination. And if you’re not up for the Gauley’s extreme thrills, River Expeditions also offers calmer rafting trips suitable for the whole family.
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iStockphoto.com/Dmytro Aksonov

Utah Olympic Park

3419 Olympic Pkwy.
Park City, Utah
(435) 658-4200
Go Bobsledding? Sure! Of all the adventurous things to do at Utah Olympic Park—built for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games—bobsledding has got to be one of the most unusual. Where else can you feel the rush an Olympic athlete experiences on a make-or-break bobsled run? Although these modified four-passenger bobsleds roll on wheels rather than steel runners, they can still reach speeds of nearly 60 mph, whipping riders through turn after bone-shaking turn. If you have ever wanted to live life on the edge like an Olympian, this is your chance.
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Yosemite National Park, California
(209) 372-0200
Go Rock Climbing! Known around the world for its iconic granite cliffs, Yosemite National Park is not only the perfect place for taking spectacular photos, but also a top rock-climbing destination. And if you want to test your limits by scaling Yosemite’s vertical rock faces, the instructors from Yosemite Mountaineering School can help. The only authorized guides in the park, they offer lessons geared to everyone from beginners to advanced climbers and can assist you in reaching dizzying heights as safely as possible. Yosemite’s wonders are among California’s top things to see, and nothing will get you closer to them than the exhilarating adventure of rock climbing.