Adventure sports in California: Is Cali the home of extreme sports?

Oct 04, 2019 BY AWE365 Team

Pretty much every action sport has some dispute in its creation. Who was first? Where did they do it? And where is it’s spiritual home? So we look at adventure sports in California and ask ‘Is Cali the home of extreme sports?’

BMX one of many adventure sports in California Pixabay royalty free image

The Golden State

California, it’s all in the name. This golden state has a draw, a lure much stronger than that created by Hollywood and the films of fantasy. And we can see why…  

Away from the urban centres, head south along the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles. You’ll find there’s an endless summer going on.

A nutrient-rich current bathes the California coast and volcanic nitrates infuse its central valley. If neighbour Nevada is bleak desert, ‘Cali’ is the oasis on every road trip.

Is Cali the home of extreme sports hollywood Pixabay royalty free image

Initially prized by the Spanish for its fertile land, California was later settled by prospectors looking for gold. Granted, the rewards are now more likely to be found in Silicon Valley, but there’s still riches to be found in them there hills…

Adventure sports in California

And it’s rockin’ adventure sports! Head north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and there’s Mount Tamalpais, spiritual home of mountain biking. Was the sport invented here? Perhaps! Check out this history of MTB for more info.

Roam south 180km and you’re into big surf and the eco-wonderland of Big Sur. But there is surf up and down the coast making it one of the most popular extreme sports in California. While Hawaii might be its spiritual home surfing was popularised in Malibu in the 1950s.

surfing huntington beach one of many adventure sports in California Pixabay royalty free image

The Pacific Ocean is home to every water sport you could think of and some you haven’t! Many of the sports only possible due to wetsuits, that yes you guessed it were invented in California.

And inland, Los Padres National Forest pushes 350km to the western edge of Los Angeles County. Almost two million acres! Hiking and trekking here really could go on forever… Not invented here but every popular.

Adventure sports in California continue up in the High Sierras. The state boasts top ski resorts such as Mammoth, Squaw and many others.

extreme sports in California Flickr image Snowboarding Mammoth park days by John Lemieux

It even claims to have been the birthplace of snowboarding. So could it be argued California is the extreme sports capital of the world?

Is Cali the home of extreme sports?

Wakeboarding has a claim to being invented in California. Yosemite National park in Cali is the spiritual home of free solo climbing (without ropes). Also El Capitan in Yosemite was the site of the first BASE jump in 1978.

And the most accessible of all extreme sports skateboarding began in California. The story goes that in the 1940s and 50s surfers wanted something they can do on land between surf sessions and started to street surf. And finally… BMX was also invented here in the 70s.

Is Cali the home of extreme sports Skateboarding venice beach Pixabay royalty free image

Is Cali the home of extreme sports? Well with so many adventure sports being invented or made mainstream in The Golden State I think we have to answer yes. And to declare California as the spiritual home of the extreme!

Want to get your adrenaline pumping? Check out this list of the many different types of extreme sport. There is sure to be something that takes your fancy.


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