For more than 20 years, Channel Islands Outfitters's Paddle Sports Center has helped humans commune with nature through their guided expeditions, courses, and gear rentals. Their expert guides lead kayakers and hikers to California destinations such as Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island, where explorers enjoy picturesque scenery and native wildlife that haven’t yet learned about sarcasm. The outdoor fitness center also offers instruction for outdoorsmen ranging from courses that cultivate Wilderness First Responders to lessons in the art of standup paddleboarding. Meanwhile, their surf shop doles out aquatic equipment such as surfboards, paddleboards, and an array of kayaks that are available in single-seat or tandem models.
The colorful hand and footholds that dot the sharply angled cliffs, overhangs, and arches at Santa Barbara Rock Gym almost beg visitors to climb them. The more than 8,500 square feet of climbable space, designed by El Dorado Climbing Walls, feature enough varied routes and ominous Viking runes to challenge climbers of all ability levels. This range of terrain and attention to detail is essential?the facility is Santa Barbara's only dedicated indoor rock-climbing gym.
Owner Will Russ, a former surfing photographer from Houston, created this space to bring the rocky wilderness indoors and foster a sense of adventure among climbers in a controlled environment. His instructors, each certified by the Climbing Wall Association, teach classes introducing basic belaying and sport-lead techniques. They also delve into the advanced skills required for bouldering and training mountain goats to fetch dropped carabiners.
The rapids rock beneath the raft, pummeling the vessel like a boxer delivering uppercuts to a heavy bag. After successfully navigating the foamy surges, the paddlers hit an abrupt drop that tosses one adventurer out of the rear of the raft. He resurfaces, bobs in the water, and then presents a thumbs up, inciting cheers and laughter from his fellow rafters.
The guides at River's End Rafting & Adventure Company pride themselves on delivering fun and safe adrenaline-pumping adventures like these. Based about 15 minutes from downtown Bakersfield, the crew transports rafters to the mouth of Kern Canyon, then guides paddlers through Class II¬–III rapids before the river yawns into Lake Ming. In addition to whitewater rafting, the team at River's End also coordinates outings including kayaking, rock climbing, and paragliding over Ant Hill, a 100-foot-high skyscraper of luxury ant condos.
It's not all about adrenaline at 4Points Expeditions?although the group's backpacking, kayaking, and stand-up-paddleboard excursions are quite thrilling. The team of experienced adventurers here cares as much about safety as it does about the outdoors, which is why it keeps trained EMTs and Wilderness First Responders among its ranks. The team members share their knowledge of CPR and first aid during detailed classes, whose past students have included members of the National Park Service. When they're not doling out lifesaving tips, the guides are leading groups through California's most beautiful natural treasures in Ojai, Ventura and Malibu.