5 Best Bucketlist Adventure Companies in the US

Trek Alaska, Iceberg Lake

You don’t have to fly to the other side of the world for an epic bucket list experience; there are plenty of unbelievable opportunities right here in the United States. From wilderness trekking to flying a jetpack, I’ve come up with a list of the 5 best bucket list adventures in the US. Most I’ve tried while the others are still extremely high on my list, these experiences will get your adrenaline pumping and keep you coming back for more.

Jetpack America – Be a Superhero

Jetpack America, California Have you ever dreamed of effortless flight? Flying through the air, hovering high above the world below, even diving under water? I envisioned it since watching “My Secret Identity” as a child. It was one of my greatest bucket list dreams. Once assumed unattainable, like going to Mars, I never imaged I’d actually get to do it. Then, I heard about Jetpack America in Newport Beach, California and my dream of jetpack flight became a reality! Jetpack America Flight, Newport Beach, California It’s the experience of a lifetime! My 25-minute flight included real-time communication with a water jetpack instructor via a walkie talkie helmet and instructor controlled throttle for safety. I’m so addicted to the jetpack flight experience that I’m planning my next flight. Stay tuned for some cool new developments there. Maybe you can even join me! Do you live in the SoCal area? Is a jetpack flight on your list? I’m looking to make someone’s bucket list dreams a reality this year. Maybe this is the chance.

Trek Alaska – He Wrote the Book…

Trek Alaska Wilderness Hike Like my dreams of flight, wilderness adventure has always been high on my list but I want to experience places and sights that few are ever lucky enough to see. That’s why I’ve been scoping out Trek Alaska for the last few months.  Trek Alaska Jumping Ice Trek Alaska provides guided backpacking adventures ranging from 3-9 days and from easier to very challenging. Most of their trips are in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park with treks originating our of McCarthy. They also trek in Lake Clark and Gates of the Arctic National Parks. This is one that I haven’t tried yet, but I keep looking at the unbelievable photos and reading about the experiences of owner, Greg Fensterman and I’m awe-struck. Trek Alaska Photos Greg is the author of Hiking Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park published by Falcon Guides. I want to put his exelplary knowledge of  the backcountry of Wrangell-St. Elias to the test. Although I’ve already visited Alaska, this adventure is putting it back on my list. 

Adventure America Zipline Canopy Tours – Zip Off the Ground

Adventure America Zipline Canopy Tours

Zip-lining, USA

With spectacular views, adrenaline, sky bridges, rappelling, and zipping, a canopy tour needed to make the list. Adventure America Zipline Canopy Tours offers authentic, full length, state-of-the art Zipline Canopy Tours at 5 different locations across the Southeast. They offer the chance to get off the ground and “fly” through the trees for a new perspective on nature and adventure.

Adventure America Zipline Canopy Tours

Their canopy tour locations show some of the best scenic and natural areas in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Locations include: North Georgia/Upstate South Carolina- near the famous Chattooga River in Long Creek South Carolina.  Western North Carolina- in Asheville, less than 10 minutes from downtown and the Nantahala Gorge.  Southeastern Tennessee– near the Ocoee River and Blue Ridge Georgia.  Also in Tennessee, Pigeon River Canopy Tours near the Great Smoky Mountains National park playground of Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Sevierville. Adventure America Zipline Canopy Tours is partnered with Wildwater, the Southeast’s leading guided adventure company and original white water outfitter since 1971. I’m always looking for multi-purpose travel accessories. Double-dipping in adventure seems like a logical progression. 

Skydive San Diego – Freefallin Love

Skydive San Diego While I’m familiar with my share of extreme adventures, skydiving is the one that holds my heart like no other. I’ve jumped in numerous locations around the world but none compare to Skydive San Diego.  Freefalling for approximately 1 minute, I tasted adventure like I never thought possible. My instructor deployed the parachute at about 5,000 feet and I enjoyed a 6-minute parachute flight over Southern California’s stunning scenery. Landing softly in the grassy drop zone, I wished I could fly every day.  Skydive San Diego Skydive San Diego specialize in group skydives. Nothing makes a better experience than riding to altitude with a group of friends and jumping from the same plane. The bond from participating in something so extreme will last a lifetime.  They are a full-service skydiving facility with multiple training buildings, deluxe packing lofts, a grass landing area, a BBQ deck and patio, and incredible scenery to match! Skydive San Diego is set up to take off and land right in the same place, where your friends can watch! I had Darren in the air with me and a good friend watching from below. My adrenaline was pumping for days. I felt like I could run all the way back to Laguna Hills!  From start to finish, it was a top-notch, bucket list adventure. 

FairWind – Big Island, Big Adventure

Manta-Ray-Night-Dive---Hula-Kai The Travel Channel calls the manta ray snorkel and dive “ONE OF THE TOP-TEN THINGS TO DO IN YOUR LIFETIME”. Thanks to FairWind Cruises, I was able to experience the beauty of manta rays up close and personal in an experience I will always cherish. Manta-Ray-Night-Dive---Hula-Kai Although you can view manta rays during daylight hours, they feed most actively at night when many plankton rise towards the surface providing one of the favorite foods on which mantas feed. Using dive lights that are safe for the manta, FairWind are able to attract these plankton which attracts the mantas. Manta-Snorkel---Hawaii During the hour I spent in the water, several of the mantas swam so close to my body that I held my breath to avoid touching them. About half way through the experience, one manta was filling up on plankton as it danced below me. I sensed that it was getting closer than the others but I assumed it would turn before reaching me; then it happened. The manta brushed its body against my wetsuit. It was massive and its gigantic wings wrapped around the sides of my body before it turned away. I was in complete awe. It was more than an up-close encounter. I never imagined I would remain so calm but he was just gently saying hello before continuing on his way. A fear of marine life that once consumed me had disappeared and I gained a new respect and appreciation for these beautiful creatures.

The more unrealistic we are with our dreams and goals, the more we are able to achieve. Go out there and get your adventure! Life is worth living. 

50 thoughts on “5 Best Bucketlist Adventure Companies in the US

    • I’ve done paragliding in Santa Barbara with Eagle and I flew a glider as well; I loved both, maybe the paragliding more.

      Hangliding will find a place on my 2015 list for sure. Do you have a suggestion for the best of the best in hangliding?

      You seem to like to flight options the most. Have you tried a jetpack?


      • if ya want to jest try the hanglider without the engine there are a couple close to u in so cal, but high adventure would be my first pick, with rob an dianne mckenzie… http://flytandem.com/aboutus.htm an here al;lso … http://www.windsports.com/ an well if u get like me, well the guy that is disabled and can’t run very fast, well the trikes like i got are the ticket and also the safest form of ultralight flying there is… http://www.arizonatrikeschool.com/ if ya want to drive a bit farther to the mesa verde area to cortez colorado,i believe my instructor johnny is the bext instructor for trikes in the west though,,,happy flying 🙂 take care ..Q,,,, trikes are so fun,,engine an all and very very safe 🙂 an no havent tried a jetpack, but i am hoping to build a jet powerd trike in the net couple of years if i live that long lol… take care Q


  1. I have had the fortune of diving with Manta Rays last year with another firm on the Big Island of Hawai’i and 100% agree it is one of the most awe-inspiring travel experiences that I have ever had. But the glacier trekking in Alaska has me really interested, it looks awesome.


    • Have you done any of the others as well? I try to skydive in every country that I visit; I’m so addicted. I’m thinking about doing the jetpack again soon too. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have ziplined in Yucatan Mexico and several places in Australia. I love that. My wife skydived in New Zealand and keeps reminding me of how awesome it was. But instead of jumping out of the plane what I really want to do is learn to fly in something fast or incredibly maneuverable.


        • A biplane flight was really high on my list as well, but if you’re looking to fly something fast, there are fighter jet experiences in Cali. where you can pilot the jet. It’s pretty intense. The jetpack might be a good fit too. 🙂


    • People have often said that I should try the novel direction but I’m having so much fun blogging that I never put a lot of thought into it. Maybe it will make up a huge part of my yearly list soon. 😉


  2. These pictures give me goosebumps. Reading about all these adventures has left me tingling with adrenaline and c.h.e.w.i.n.g. my coffee. Yes, you read that correctly. Chewing. 😀
    The pictures are fantastic.


  3. Cool stuff. My daughter would love these. My best friend wants me to tandem skydive with him. He’s done about 5,000 jumps so he knows what he’s doing. I hate heights and jumping out of a plane seems freakin crazy.


  4. Fairwind is awesome – and so glad you got to do the Manta Dive/Snorkel! It seriously is NOT to be missed! If you ever get back into the islands again, I have to send you over to my friends at Skydive Hawaii and Dillingham, the world’s most beautiful drop zone! You seriously haven’t jumped until you’ve jumped in Hawaii!


  5. I am sooooooooo glad you posted this! I was actually going to send you a personal message about where the best place for skydiving was in Calif. and here it is … It’s on my list and I’m doing research for it as the big 4-0 approaches. And the zip lining tour sounds amazing THANKS for posting 🙂


  6. I led hundred mile backpacking adventures in Alaska for three years as fund raisers in the 80s for the American Lung Association. My trips were in the Alaska Range and across the Kenai Peninsula. There is great beauty in the state, and, of equal importance to me, it’s pure wilderness. You definitely have to know what you are doing or travel with an experienced guide. Like your recent trip to Africa, it will be the experience of a lifetime. Go for it. –Curt


    • Thanks, Curt! I think I’ll need to put it on my 2015 list! It’s time I get out in the wilderness and explore. Africa was life-changing; I feel the same about something like this. 🙂


      • Guaranteed. I saw lots of lives changed over the years in the long distant bike and backpack treks I led. BTW, I also organized a winter cross country ski camping trek into Denali National Park. Wolves howling at night along with minus 30 degree weather was definitely an eye opener, Lesley. We slept with our shoes in our sleeping bags so they wouldn’t be frozen in the morning. LOL –Curt


  7. Wow Alaska looks really alien! I agree about exploring your own continent, America is a pretty huge and diverse! That would be Northern Norway for me. Almost ashamed I haven’t been there.


  8. Wow !!! As much as I love the idea of adventure I am scared as hell ! But I love the idea of jet pack flight and the Alaska trip sounds fun
    .. If I were you , I would literally scare the holy crap outta that ray by screaming so loud …


  9. Pingback: My Article Read (7-1-2014) (7-2-2014) | My Daily Musing

  10. I just returned from Hawaii where I was fortunate to participate in Fairwinds daytime snorkel tour! It was so awesome! Next time the night tour…they are a class act!


  11. Wow!! Love everything you’ve done so far.

    I am considering skydiving for the first time but I am super scared. Could you describe what the exp. was like for you the first time? Could you breathe? Is it like a rollercoaster? Do you feel like you’re dying? Do you feel the rush?

    You have such a fun life. Love it!! 🙂


    • Skydiving is my favorite adventure. It’s nothing like you’d think. You don’t get that “falling” feeling. It’s totally like flying. You can breathe normally and your stomach doesn’t butterfly like a roller coaster. The first few seconds are the most difficult but then it’s just beautiful. Try to keep your eyes open and take it all in. I feel like the first time is so much of a rush that you don’t truly get to experience it all – it’s too much sensory overload. The second time is the best, but you have to get there first 😉

      I can’t wait to read all about it. Be sure to send me a link 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • One more question: do you think anyone can try skydiving? For instance, I don’t take too many risks. Do you think it was easier for you because you’ve done so much more and that alleviated your fears a little? Could someone else who hasn’t done as much fun take the risk and be OK with the experience? 🙂


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