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AZ Extreme Adventures Beckon Thrill Seekers

by Blake Herzog

Our state’s luxury travel scene is most famous for resorts with indulgent spas and services, spectacular golf courses and delectable restaurants. Being pampered is clearly a highlight of any vacation, but many of us also like to challenge ourselves in ways we don’t get the chance to in our workaday lives.

You don’t have to give up either by staying in-state — Arizona’s varied topography and climate offers an endless supply of obstacles to conquer.

Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course

This playground in the treetops of Ft. Tuthill County Park just south of Flagstaff has tethered adventure courses where guests scramble across bridges and up ropes, as well as zip lines that have people whizzing up to 80 feet above the ground.

It can be a great family trip (kids 7 to 11 have a separate adventure course, and height restrictions apply to all activities). Open year-round, this is the largest adventure course in the state and largest zip line course in the western U.S.

www.flagstaffextreme.com

Sycamore Canyon Sinagua Cliff Dwellings

Some difficult driving and challenging hiking stand between you and the cliff dwellings, part of the reason why the orange sandstone brick structure is in such good shape. Treat the site with the awe and respect it deserves.

www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=74369

Rock Climbing in the McDowell Mountains

If you prefer your extreme experiences closer to five-star resorts, you can’t do much better than the McDowell Mountains in north Scottsdale. The primary rock-climbing location in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is accessible via Tom Thumb’s Trail and has traditional, sport and top-roping options.

And after you’re done dragging yourself up all those rocks and boulders, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort is less than 15 minutes away.

www.mcdowellsonoran.org/recreation#climbing

Explore the Devil’s Playground of the Petrified Forest

The Devil’s Playground is one of the most remote areas of Petrified Forest National Park, which is less than two hours east of Flagstaff. It’s by far the most exclusive section of the park, with only three permits issued every week beginning on Wednesday.

Crazily-piled rocks and boulders can be seen in other parts of the state but none are as remote or as breathtaking as what you’ll find here.

www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm

Skydive the Grand Canyon

What can go wrong with doing the most extreme of activities in the most extreme landscape in Arizona? Not much, actually, since you’ll be tandem diving with an experienced instructor who will give you as much control as you need but will bring you safely down to earth.

Paragon Skydive flies out of the Tusayan Grand Canyon airport, and you can even skydive “naked” — without photo or video documentation.

www.skydivegc.com

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