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The most thrilling travel experiences in North America for adrenaline junkies

See more of the world with our epic list of activities

By Olivia Hart for Time Out in association with Ubank

There’s a world of adventure to discover beyond Australia’s famous spots, and for the energetic explorer who prefers thrill-seeking to sitting poolside, North America has it all. With jaw-dropping vistas that will spark any dormant wanderlust, North America has extreme adventures in all shapes and sizes. Get your booking fingers at the ready. 

To make this trip abroad much easier, ubank offers Spend accounts which come with a Visa debit card and no ATM or international transaction fees charged by ubank, and a Save account to fund your adventures. Plus, ubank have an easy-to-use app. 

7 activities to explore in North America

Hike through the epic mountain ranges of the Grand Canyon

Traversing the mountain ranges and parks in North America is a bucket list item for a reason. With thrilling views at every step, you can expect to find otherworldly landscapes of alpine meadows and lakes. Now is the perfect time to go, with snow melting for summertime you can escape the winter blues down under for a trip to the other hemisphere. Wander through the Sierra Nevada Mountains from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney if you want to commit weeks to the adventure. Or for beginners, start with a half-day to full day hike at Tillamook Head Trail where you can follow in Lewis and Clark’s tracks or take on Tongue Mountain Loop in New York which is crisscrossed with trails for all levels of hikers. Our pick? Take on the Nankoweap Trail for a three to four day hike through the Grand Canyon.

Zipline down the longest and fastest ride in the continent

Whizz over Louisana’s swamps, a waterfall in Hawaii, or unspoiled wilderness in Whistler – with so many ziplining adventures to be had. Wherever you book in for this daring adventure, the one thing that is guaranteed is the breathtaking views. For the real thrill-seekers, you’ll want to book in at the fastest and longest ride of its kind in the country (second in the world) at Zipline New York which has a 650-foot line suspended 60 feet above the Catskills’ tree canopy. Don’t worry, family-friendly options are available if not everyone in your party is up for the challenge.

Get underneath the gushing veil of Niagara Falls

There are many ways to see Niagara Falls, and seeing is a must. A ticket to “Cave of the Winds” lets you descend into the gorge and stand nearby the raging waters or you can get up close and personal on the “Maid of the Mist”, a 20-minute double-decker boat tour that takes you right up to the base of the falls where you can expect to get wet, but don’t worry you’ll be decked out in a plastic poncho. For the more adventurous option you can hike down into Devil’s Hole, where you’ll traverse across a stone staircase that leads you down the Niagara Gorge and drops you right off at the river’s famous and overpowering whirlpools. Head there in summertime and you’ll catch the daily fireworks show.

Escape to the wilderness and camp under the Northern Lights in Alaska

Unplug for a few days and head up to the Denali National park in Alaska which is home to the highest peaks in North America for an off-the-grid camping adventure. After you’ve set up shop at one of the campgrounds, decide how adventurous you want to be. Stay campside and keep an eye out for wandering animals including moose, squirrels and foxes (you could even hop on a bus tour to spot a grizzly bear) or hike the peaks and glaciers while you wait for a glimpse of the magical Northern Lights. Denali is conveniently located directly under the Aurora Borealis zone with the most activity and also has little light pollution.

Surf the sacred coastlines where the sport first began

The turquoise waters lure just about every visitor to Mexico’s famous beaches including Rio Nexpia which is a bit off the beaten path and only travelling surfers tend to seek out. For more famous waves head to Baja California, or Nayarit which are both great places for beginners. Keep the good times going and head to Hawaii where you can ride the waves on the home turf of Duke Kahanamoku who popularised the sport back in the early 1900s and is known as “the Godfather of Surfing''. For the pros, you’ll want to head to the ‘Seven Mile Miracle’ where you can ride walls of water from Haleiwa Beach Park to Sunset Beach.

Surround yourself with natural beauty as you whitewater raft down the Colorado river

Navigate through the Colorado river on a whitewater rafting adventure and take in the incredible vistas and dramatically changing landscapes of the epic river which meanders through several US states and two Mexican states. Given the length, there are many starting points for this thrilling activity, but most people book in for The Grand Canyon section which offers unparalleled scenery and covers over 300 kilometres of the river. If one extreme adventure isn’t enough, why not combine a day of rafting with canyoneering where you’ll scale carved sandstone slot canyons on a day trip adventure.

Paraglide over a dormant volcano and lush greenery in Maui

Hawaii is more than just gorgeous beaches and crystal-clear blue waters with plenty of fun to be had across its 137 islands. From snorkelling to diving, windsurfing and whale watching, there’s plenty of choice. Want to get your heart-racing? Cruise over Maui’s lush tropical landscape from over 1,000 or 3,000 feet high by paragliding down. You’ll start the adventure atop of the island’s highest peak and get up to 12 minutes of air time as you take in the bird’s-eye-view of the dormant volcano.  

If any one of these has signalled your inner adrenaline-junkie, start saving now with ubank. Use the offer code “TIMEOUT20” when you join and make five eligible card purchases in your first 30 days and score $20*.

*Make 5 eligible card purchases in the first 30 days to unlock sign up bonus. Terms and conditions apply.

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