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The Lord of Fright
Conquer your fears and tackle that adrenaline bucket list.
By Scott Renshaw
Winter in Utah is so inextricably linked to the thrills of skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports that it's easy to forget that the excitement doesn't need to end with the spring thaw. There's no need to put your jones for adrenaline on hold for six months—not when the state is filled with opportunities to try out other activities that can really get the blood pumping. If you've got yourself an "adrenaline bucket list" of stuff you'd like to try, there's no time like the present. Here's a look at some of those activities, organized for different comfort levels so that you can find your sweet spot between baby-steps and death-defying.
The wAIRhouse Trampoline Park
If you're going to ease your way into the big-time activities, you might as well begin with a reminder of the stuff that thrilled you in your younger years. The wAIRhouse offers a 35,000-square-foot facility full of places to get your bounce on, plus dodgeball courts, slam-dunk courts to give you that illusion of NBA legitimacy, and an extreme net course (not included with general admission). If you're coming with little ones, there are age-appropriate areas for toddlers, and even a lounge area with TVs to take a little break as you work yourself back into thrill-seeking shape. 3653 S. 500 West, wairhouseslc.com
Park City Mountain Resort Alpine Coaster
Amusement park roller-coasters like those you'd find at Lagoon are a perfectly respectable way of adding a safe sense of danger. But there's an added touch of spectacle involved in taking that ride down a mountainside. Park City Mountain Resort's Alpine Coaster winds its way through the summer greenery at speeds up to 25 mph (roughly the equivalent of Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds). There are height and age restrictions; individual rides are available, but you get the best deal with a summer "adventure pass" that also includes access to the luge-like Alpine slide, climbing wall and much more. 1345 Lowell Ave., Park City, parkcitymountain.com
Dive Utah, Bonneville Seabase
You say that Utah is a landlocked state, so ocean-type activities are simply impossible here? You have so much to learn. If you've ever wanted to learn to SCUBA dive, set up individual or group lessons with Dive Utah (4679 S. 2225 East, Holladay, diveutah.com), with introductory classes and preparations for open-water diving, all right here locally. Or if you'd like the experience of swimming through tropical reefs without major travel expense, take just a short drive to Bonneville Seabase (1600 N. SR 138, Grantsville, seabase.net), where natural springs and natural salinity creates a de facto inland ocean full of fish, available for visitors to dive right in (reservations available).
Everyone wants to experience what it's like to fly; while you work your way up to it, try starting by remaining firmly attached to something. Many locations offer zipline experiences, but Zipline Utah serves up some of the longest experiences in the world, including the Screaming Falcon Full Tour: a 3,900-foot-plus swoop over Rainbow Bay, plus seven suspension aerial bridges, and additional lines, for a total of two miles enjoying spectacular views while never touching the ground. Shorter zips and kid-appropriate options are also available; reservations only. Deer Creek State Park, Highway 89, Mile Marker 22, ziplineutah.com
Deer Creek Island Resorts Wakeboard Clinics
Utah's beautiful lakes and reservoirs are a great place to experience the daredevil sensation of treating a wave of water like a skateboard halfpipe. Even if you've never been pulled behind a boat on anything before, you can learn everything you need to know at Deer Creek Island Resorts wakeboard clinics. Individual sessions are a one-hour, one-on-one intensive personal introduction to the sport; group clinics are also available for a more cost-effective option. There are even specialty clinics for pre-teen riders and for women only. Highway 89, Deer Creek Reservoir, deercreekislandresort.com
High Country Adventure Provo River Tubing
The experience of navigating down the state's rivers, fresh from the melting Rocky Mountain snows, evokes a sense of adventurous discovery, almost as though you're seeing the world the way 19th-century explorers did. If you're not quite ready yet for the whitest of white water, but still in decent physical shape and with solid swimming ability, try floating along the Provo River with friends on heavy-duty tubes. Experiences include life jackets and basic river navigation instruction, plus a shuttle back to your point of origin, with discounts for larger groups. 3702 E. Provo Canyon Road, Provo, highcountryadventure.com
Hang Gliding and Paragliding
The conditions at Point of the Mountain are legendary as one of the world's best spots to learn—and perfect—the art of hang gliding or paragliding, providing the smooth winds that make for ideal learning. The area is home to multiple schools and companies that provide equipment, as well as experiences perfect for every comfort level. Try out a tandem flight to get a feel for soaring with a professional instructor, then take the lessons needed to be able to manage sustained flights on your own. Check with the Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association to find the preparation that's right for you. uhgpga.org
Zion Adventures Waterfall Rappelling
Feel like experiencing the splendor of Southern Utah's red rock country in an unexpected way? How about descending into secluded canyons while waterfalls lap at your feet? If you're in shape for a 9-11 hour day, get a glimpse of rarely-seen, privately-owned areas as you experience 9-10 rappels along a 400-foot waterfall to the bottom. The adventure includes a mandatory ground school clinic, and a sense for taking the road—or the canyon—less traveled. 36 Lion Blvd., Springdale, zionadventures.com
Sky Dive Utah
OK, no more messing around: It's time to jump right the hell out of that plane. Only 25 miles west of downtown Salt Lake City, you can build up to your solo experience with a tandem jump with an instructor, getting amazing views of the Great Salt Lake and surrounding areas. That 60-second freefall before opening the parachute might seem like an eternity, but once you're getting instructed on how to control and maneuver your way to the ground, you'll wonder why it took you so long to get started. 4647 N. Airport Road, Erda, skydiveutah.com