Roaring ATVs charge up Southwest Desert sand dunes in a storm of golden particles. Miles away, intrepid explorers rappel down the sheer cliffs of the Valley of Fire. Elsewhere, kayakers drift across the placid surface of Lake Mead in the sunset, and passengers inside a helicopter witness the majesty of the Grand Canyon from the breathtaking angle normally reserved for sightseeing birds. These seemingly disparate adventures have one thing in common: the people who imagined them. Each trek was dreamed up by the founders and guides of Awesome Adventures, who see the landscape of Nevada and Utah not as harsh and wild, but as a source of endless entertainment and education. The enthusiastic staffers—who specialize in recreations ranging from rock climbing to whitewater rafting—encourage visitors and locals alike to step outside the bounds of the city and explore exciting new vistas.
Taking in the Grand Canyon’s depths, jetting down the Las Vegas Strip in a limousine, and visiting a tiny town in search of its resident poltergeist—guests of Bindlestiff Tours can have these experiences and more. The company’s expert guides create the wide array of southwestern tours themselves, tailoring the itineraries to their personal expertise and their insider knowledge of camera-shy cacti. Their carefully curated trips can last from a single day to three weeks, with longer trips stopping at far-flung landmarks such as Yosemite National Park, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon in a single week. Bindlestiff Tours also aims to protect the natural wonders it celebrates, encouraging tour groups to minimize their environmental impact as they travel by keeping to trails and recycling.
It's exhilarating—the rush of adrenaline as you jump from 13,000 feet, free fall, and then glide beneath a parachute back to Earth. Less than a half-hour drive from the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip, Sin City Skydiving creates this experience daily. With more than 12,000 skydives each, the company's FAA and US Parachute Association-certified instructors are the perfect team to plunge newcomers into the sport. They strap themselves to novices during tandem flights and dive out of Cessna aircrafts, controlling every second of the jump while simultaneously setting the record for world's longest hug. For committed students, they lead a combination of ground-based and in-air training that teaches divers to jump on their own.
A long silver limousine pulls up and releases a flurry of energetic moppets, who make their way down a red carpet to the front doors. Though this may seem like a scene from Nickelodeon's Teen Choice Awards, it's an everyday occurrence at Make Me a Star Studios, where aspiring superstars' dreams of the famous life can be realized.
At the studio, beauty experts sculpt coifs and gloss guises to get them ready for the camera. Then, against a green-screen backdrop, celebrities-in-progress strike poses as flashbulbs pop or perform choreography for music videos. Though activities are geared toward kids aged 7–14, grown folk often find themselves headbanging or electric sliding during sessions and can join in if they wish.
Party packages guarantee exclusive access to Make Me a Star Studios' enclave. The Reality Party gives kids glimpses into the true lives of superstars by bouncing them between scheduled interviews, performances, and photo shoots. Unexpected bumps in the road—which may include a limousine breakdown or publication of recent spelling tests in the Enquirer—challenge youngsters to make it to appearances on time and without losing their cool.
Vroom across the earth's gold- and diamond-filled acne with today’s off-road Groupon: $55 for a four-hour H1 Hummer tour through two Arizona mountain ranges and desert with Stellar Adventures (a $135 value). Stellar Adventures’ exciting and information-packed Four Peaks Trail Hummer expedition takes intrepid explorers on a picturesque trail through Tonto National Forest, known, like the surface of Mars or a new pair of socks, for its rugged beauty.