Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself an extreme athlete, you’ve probably heard about some pretty extreme adventure feats in the news. Major outlets covered events like the 2015 scale of Yosemite’s ‘unclimbable’ dawn wall and the 2012 space skydiving jump in New Mexico.
Humans are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is and isn’t possible, especially when it comes to extreme sports and athletic pursuits that seem like they should be physically impossible.
Fortunately, because extreme sports events are becoming more popular, huge gatherings of athletes are popping up across the country, usually with major sponsors and television coverage behind them. And since watching these events on TV is nowhere as near as amazing as watching them in person, we thought a list of the best 2019 extreme sports events to attend would be extremely helpful for adrenaline junkies who can’t wait to plan their weekend getaways.
The best part of many of these festivals is the camaraderie around them, ranging from amateur athletic events to giveaways to musical performances and athlete meet and greets. So pick your vehicle, pick your event, and get ready for a weekend (or week) of extreme sports madness.
Have you ever seen super steep downhill mountain biking and thought “Well, what if they also flew off 80-foot cliffs?” Well, you’re in luck, because that’s the logic behind Red Bull Rampage, one of the most extreme mountain biking events in the country. Participation is by invite only—these are the best riders in the world, after all—but spectator tickets offer the best seat in the house. And since it’s held in Utah, already a mountain biking mecca, there’s plenty of non-professional mountain biking nearby. If you’ve been thinking of doing a mountain bike RV trip, schedule it around this death-defying event.
2019 Event TBA (usually held end of October); redbull.com/us-en/events/rampage
Not to leave out our friends to the north, we recommend the Annual World Freeride Festival in Alaska, known as Tailgate Alaska. Make sure you rent a vehicle with a heater and plenty of room for snowboards since this festival is a celebration of the biggest and baddest free riding terrain in the world. But don’t worry—the event offers an amazing amount of intermediate terrain, so you don’t need to be an Olympic level athlete to participate. But even if you just come to hang out, there’s plenty to do, with concerts, classes, beer gardens, speakers and more. Go for the full 10 days or just a long weekend of beautiful terrain and amazing skiing.
March 29 to April 7, 2019; tailgateak.com
The Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival is held in Bishop, California—one of the best climbing destinations in the U.S. Climbing can be a challenging sport, but climbers are some of the friendliest and most laid-back adventure athletes there are. And since this event is only for women (and those who identify as female,) it’s a totally safe space for work on your routes, whether you’re bouldering V1s or more of a 5.12+ kind of climber. Grab your girls and grab your R.V., because this popular event sells out every year—and it’s no surprise why, since it includes everything from film showings to athlete signings to tutorials and morning yoga sessions. Stay at one of the local campgrounds for a true climber experience. (P.S. There’s also an annual climbing festival in Chattanooga, Tenn., if you can’t make it all the way to California.
March 22 to 29, 2019; flashfoxy.com/wcf-bishop
If the waves are calling your name, set your sights on Manhattan Beach, California. It’s home to the U.S. Open of Surfing, though it also includes BMX and skateboard competitions, art exhibits, product demos, and way more. The beaches get packed and the action is easy to see from afar since surfers regularly compete by riding waves more than 10 to 15 feet tall. This is a week-long party and no matter when you go, you’re guaranteed a lively taste of classic California beach culture. The best place to park is at one of the beachfront R.V. lots—but they fill up quickly, so be sure to book your site well in advance.
July 27 to August 4; vansusopenofsurfing.com
If you love the idea of spending a day on the water but don’t particularly want to get bashed by the waves in Manhattan Beach, head to Texas and watch the U.S. stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. Competitors jump from more than 27 meters—yes, that’s nearly 90 feet—while spectators watch from below on boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and the occasional floating flamingo. Rentals are always available and there’s plenty of room to find a good vantage point. The event is held at the beautiful Possum Lake, also knows as Hell’s Gate. Bring your sunscreen, waterproof camera, and beverage of choice for an awesome day out on the water.
June 2019, exact date TBA; cliffdiving.redbull.com/en_US