Looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush? Consider the sky as a place to soar and Sacramento and surrounding counties will fill your every dream of being up there.
1020 Airport Road
Lincoln, CA 95648
Located in the wide open spaces of Lincoln, this outfit is a U.S. Parachute Association Drop Zone. The Lincoln Regional Airport is about 30 minutes from Sacramento and is your take-off point for a safe parachute ride from a fine airplane. First-time jumpers are looked after with skill and care. The average time in the sport for the main instructors is over 20 years. That amounts to “…thousands” of jumps. This is a family-owned business that prides itself on its safety record and being the home DZ for many Northern California jumpers. Learning to skydive will cost $259. Active military, student and group rates are available.
24390 Aviation Ave.
Davis, CA 95616
In the land of farm fields all the way to the horizon, with U.C. Davis anchoring the place, Davis is the home of SkyDance SkyDiving. Not only can you learn to jump out of airplanes here, and live to tell about it, but there’s also a campground to make your commute very short indeed. Action Air Parachutes is the onsite skydiving proshop. If you need it in order to jump, this shop will have it. The first time up and out in a tandem jump will cost $199. When you go solo, after ground school, the price is the same. Ground school gets you ready for your first solo jump, and on weekdays is $299. You’ll get a T shirt, log book and instructional video. Time to harness up!
7000 Stonehouse Road
Rancho Murieta, CA 96863
Just 30 minutes east of Sacramento, hot air balloons rise gently into the sky. Sky Drifters is the place to go for a different kind of flight experience. Colorful, gentle and exciting all describe the experience of the balloon flight. Your flight will take you over the riparian wetlands of the valley, with a 360-degree view of trees, lakes, rivers and farmland. The balloons are quiet, and in the mornings expect to see wildlife below, completely ignoring your flight overhead. A flight with just you and your pilot is $225. With two or three people, it’s $195 each, with $175 each for four people. Expect to be up in the sky for around an hour or so. With the post-ride picnic and return to base, plan on a three to four hours for the whole experience. You’ll need your camera, with fully charged batteries.
Related: A Sacramento Rock Climber’s Guide
Lake Tahoe Balloons
Tahoe Keys Marina
2435 Venice Drive E.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Imagine yourself floating over Lake Tahoe in a colorful hot air balloon, knowing this is one of the most fantastic experiences of your life. Lake Tahoe Balloons will provide this for you. It’s an early morning start, right around 6 a.m. You’ll board the Tahoe Flyer, which is the “…worlds only U.S.C.G. certified balloon launch and recovery vessel.” On board, breakfast, deluxe continental style, is served. When you arrive at the launch spot by the lake, watch the crew get the balloon ready. Board the basket and gently find yourself lifting from lake level, 6,225 feet above sea level, to 8,000-10,000 feet. The views from up here are astounding, as the entire lake and surrounding mountains are part of the panorama. On a clear day, the coast range and Yosemite may be in your view finder. Land back on the Tahoe Flyer, enjoy champagne and snacks and of course a flight souvenir as you head back to the marina. The cost for the package is $295. Plan to be out and about for around four hours.
Squaw Valley Adventure Center
1960 Squaw Valley Road
Squaw Valley, CA 96146
Squaw Valley is simply a wonderful place. Skiing, boarding, cycling, hiking and wandering about in an alpine paradise is all found here. A family adventure with bungy jumping at Squaw? Absolutely. Rather than launching off a high bridge or a way-up-in-the-sky crane, how about a skyjump trampoline? Located in the Village at Squaw Valley, right in front of the cable car building, this is not your average trampoline. With the addition of a few anchored bungee cords, it’s easy to propel yourself up to about 25 feet in the air. Perhaps one of the best parts of this is that your little ones, who weigh at least 20 pounds, are able to strap in and bounce higher and higher, do flips and grin from ear to ear the whole time. The skyjump trampoline is available on weekends and holidays in winter, every day during summer and closes after Labor Day. The cost is $12. The memories are free.
Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 37 years. In 2010 he retired from teaching after 36 years . He and his wife hike, kayak, cross country ski, snow shoe, ride mountain bikes and road bikes, year round. His work can be found at Examiner.com.