California's 5 Ultimate Outdoor Adventures You Should Try

Last Updated on January 23, 2023 by Nikki Jain

California is not called the Golden State for nothing. It is practically an outdoor playground for every single person looking for some adventure, no matter what season you decide to visit in. It is so easy to find some hiking options that take you through the desert during spring, you should swim in the Pacific Ocean during summer and fall foliage makes fall mountain-biking a true delight.

If you are interested in some big thrills, you can always choose one of the luxury holidays in California that allow you to glide over the ocean or go bouldering. Surfboarding and kiting are obvious because of the geographical makeup of the state. It does not really matter what adrenaline fix you need. There is a pretty good possibility that you will love what California offers.

While there are so many outdoor adventures we can talk about, let’s focus just on some that are particularly interesting and that few tourists know about. Check out these adventures and you will simply love the experience.

Best Outdoor Activities in California

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1: John Muir Trail Backpacking

John Muir Trail Backpacking
Flickr/Tom Hilton

Right in the middle of the Yosemite National Park you can choose out of many different adventures but this one, taking you to Mt Whitney’s top (14,505 feet) is something that has to be mentioned. John Muir Trail is 211 miles long, taking you along the beautiful Merced River where you can enjoy pine and oak forests.

Then, you move through 6 Sierra Nevada passes, only to also follow the PCT (Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail) that starts in Canada and finishes in Mexico. All of these trails can be combined, allowing you to create incredible memories you will not forget.

However, remember the fact that due to the length of the trails, you need to be prepared. It is a good idea to manage hiking in smaller sections that are much more manageable.

Address: John Muir Trail, California

2: Yosemite Valley Rock Climbing

Yosemite Valley Rock Climbing
Flickr/David J Laporte

Yosemite is truly a wonderful destination for the adrenaline junkie. This includes people that enjoy rock climbing because of polished domes, near-vertical walls and sheer spires. If you are a climber, you may want to consider the huge El Capitan (7569 feet), which is one of the largest monoliths in the entire world.

The main rock climbing season in Yosemite starts in April and finishes in October. Climbers usually stay close to El Capitan, at Camp 4. This is especially the case during fall and spring. If you visit during summer, many rock climbers move towards Tuolumne Meadows, which has higher elevation, cooler temperatures and wonderful glacially polished granite domes. If you travel alone, you can find bulletin boards at both of the locations mentioned. Use them to find a partner.

In the event that you are a beginner rock climber, the Yosemite Mountaineering School is a great place to visit. Classes are available for novice to advanced climbers.

Address: Yosemite Valley, California

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Also Read: Top 10 Things to Do in Yosemite National Park

3: La Jolla Scuba Diving and Snorkelling

La Jolla Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
Flickr/alyssa BLACK.

If you are looking for truly world-class snorkeling and diving, the coastline stretch of San Diego is simply perfect. In La Jolla Cove you can so often see snorkelers and the La Jolla Underwater Park is wonderful if you are a diver that is just now experiencing the activity.

The depth is an average of 20 feet and the location covers 6000 acres. This is where you can find a protected fish in California, the beautiful bright orange garibaldi. If you move out, you can reach the La Jolla Canyon with a depth of 100 feet.

Address: La Jolla, San Diego, CA

4: Channel Islands Whale Watching and Sea Kayaking

Channel Islands Whale Watching and Sea Kayaking

There are not many locations in the world that feature a protected, remote landscape, whale watching, camping, scuba diving, hiking and kayaking. Add to all this some wonderful, unique fauna and flora species, kelp forests, tide pools and more.

This is what you get when you choose Channel Islands for an adrenaline-filled vacation. There are 145 species of animals that you cannot see anywhere else. This is enough of a reason to visit but you should be aware of the fact that sea kayaking is a great way to see all the islands.

You want to seriously consider this during early fall since conditions are quite ideal. During other seasons it is possible that fog will stop you. Also, winters are stormy but great for whale watching.

Address: 1867 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, California 93001

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5: White-Water Rafting

White-Water Rafting
Flickr/Vlad Butsky

California’s Sierra Nevada and Gold Country are perfect for white-water rafting enthusiasts. Many great rivers are available. If you are a beginner, you want to consider the American River’s South Fork. The river’s North and Middle Forks are much more challenging, taking you through the Gold Country gorges.

Tuolumne River starts in Yosemite National Park and offers really interesting rapids for those looking for some true adventure. There is even a white-water rafting area that is only meant to be tackled by experts, Cherry Creek. This is a 9-mile river stretch with rapids of Class IV and V+, all market by huge boulders, ledges, vertical holes, sheer drops and really narrow shoots.

The white-water rafting season in California starts in April and in Tuolumne River you can enjoy this activity till September.

Also Read: 10 Best Places for Whitewater Rafting in the United States

Final Thoughts

California offers a lot for the adrenaline seeker, with the 5 activities mentioned above being truly exquisite. Be sure that you take them into account but do not limit your search. This is a state that offers much more than what people expect. When thinking about outdoor adventures, it is actually highly-underrated. You can have a lot of fun in the sun, on the water and wherever else you might want.

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