Hooked on excitement — and finally with the time and resources to make their adventure dreams come true — a growing army of 50-plus adrenaline junkies wanders the world jumping, dangling, soaring — and just living it up.
Here's how to join them...or find less outrageous ways to walk on your own personal wild side.
Each of these categories contains ideas for whatever level of extreme travel suits you: Insane? Sane? Tame? How you define adventure is up to you.
Take A Dive
Insane: BASE Jumping
BASE jumpers admit it: Their sport is insane. "We do not recommend BASE jumping to anybody," states website Basejumper.com. BASE jumping involves parachuting from platforms such as bridges, buildings, or cliffs; the low altitude leaves leapers mere seconds to deploy their chutes. That adrenaline rush attracts devotees like Jim Hickey, 69, from Claremont, California. The minimum experience that companies usually require before selling you BASE-jumping equipment is 100 skydives — Hickey, who's logged more than 100 BASE jumps in two years, has more than 2,600 skydives under his belt. On four skydives, he says, his parachute failed and he had to use his emergency chute — "but there's no backup with BASE jumping." According to Hickey, the danger and challenge are "part of the thrill."
Interested? The Snake River BASE Academy in Twin Falls, Idaho, has a first-jump course, as well as a weeklong intensive Death Camp for experienced sky divers. A top spot to witness this wild and crazy sport is New River Gorge, West Virginia, where BASE jumping is legal once a year. This year Bridge Day falls on October 15. Phoenix-fly.com lists places where experienced skydivers can take lessons in wingsuits.
Sane: Bungee Jumping
Sounds scary, but it's relatively safe, seeing how you're tethered to a cord. California's Bridge to Nowhere, 40 miles outside L.A., is a popular jump site run by Bungee America, the oldest operator in the United States. The bridge soars across the San Gabriel River, spanning rocky canyon walls.
Tame: Jumping Rope
Whether your style is double Dutch or just plain up and down, jumping rope can burn 10 to 20 calories a minute. Get inspired by attending a USA Jump Rope regional competition. The U.S. National Jump Rope Championship is held in Galveston, Texas, June 23 through 26.