April 12, 2024

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20 Most Popular Extreme Sports in the US

9 min read

In this article, we are going to discuss the 20 most popular extreme sports in the US. You can skip our detailed analysis of the global adventure tourism industry, the companies catering to extreme sports, and how the dawn of sports cameras helped make extreme sports more popular, and go directly to 5 Most Popular Extreme Sports in the US

Extreme sports is a broad term used to describe any action or adventure sports that include a high dosage of risk, height, speed, natural challenges, and physical struggle. Considered an alternative to mainstream sports with their adrenaline-rushing thrills, extreme sports were popularized in the 1990s with lots of TV coverage, and they keep on expanding their fanbase with every passing year. 

Global Adventure Tourism Industry: 

Adventure tourism is a form of travel that involves spelunking, climbing, cycling, hiking, hunting, rafting, and others. This is a growing and dynamic sector of the tourism industry, with an increasing demand and supply of diverse and innovative adventure travel products and experiences. Adventure tourism has the potential to enhance the well-being and resilience of travelers and hosts, as well as to contribute to the sustainable development of destinations.

According to Grand View Research, the global adventure tourism market size was valued at $282.1 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 15.2% during the forecast period. 

The major factors which are expected to boost this growth include increased government tourism promotion activities, higher investments in this sector by the states, and a strengthening trend for adventure sports on holidays. Another factor that is expected to have a significant impact is the increase of advertising via different digital platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and others, offering better travel deals.

Companies Catering to Extreme Sports 

Adding a whiff of danger is not something every brand can afford to do – but for some, extreme sport sponsorship is the perfect way of engaging Gen Z and beyond. 

Monster Energy, owned by the Monster Beverage Corporation (NASDAQ:MNST), struck extreme sports gold when they decided to form a partnership with the X Games. The brand basically turned Aspen into one enormous billboard for Monster Energy. From athletes to apparel, the name Monster was everywhere to be seen on the Aspen slopes back in January. 

Stocks of the Monster Beverage Corporation (NASDAQ:MNST) were held by 44 hedge funds in the Insider Monkey database at the end of Q2, with Broadwood Capital holding the largest stake of 9.31 million shares, valued at $534.94 million. After the beverage giant’s recent endeavor in the alcohol industry, Monster Beverage Corporation (NASDAQ:MNST) ranks among the 12 Best Alcohol Stocks to Own According to Hedge Funds

The New York-based DICK’S Sporting Goods, Inc. (NYSE:DKS) is the largest sporting goods retailer in the U.S., and is listed on the Fortune 500. The company also caters to a range of outdoor sporting activities, including rock climbing, snowboarding, and even provides parachutes for daredevil clients wanting to spread their wings. 

DICK’S Sporting Goods, Inc. (NYSE:DKS) continues to shift away from the Field & Stream brand in favor of its House of Sport concept with the announcement of nine new House of Sport stores, significantly larger and more profitable versions of traditional Dick’s stores. House of Sport – an approximately 100,000-square-foot store –  differs from a standard Dick’s Sporting Goods store in that it provides not just athletic gear and apparel, but amenities such as athletic training facilities, rock climbing walls, batting cages and outdoor fields, and services for activities ranging from cycling to golf. 

DICK’S Sporting Goods, Inc. (NYSE:DKS) ranks among the Stocks with Price Targets Recently Trimmed by Analysts. On August 24, the stock experienced an adjustment in its target price as JPMorgan Chase & Co recommended. In a notable market shift, the price target has been reduced from $144 to the revised target of $128. However, this adjustment in price target doesn’t appear to have influenced the analyst rating, which remains consistent at Neutral. 

Helping Make Extreme Sports More Popular

There is no shortage of brave extreme sports enthusiasts out there who inspire and impress with their daring and adventurous stunts. Now, thanks to the technological capabilities of sports cameras, everyone has the chance to experience the world through the eyes of these eccentric daredevils.

There was a time not so long ago when BASE – an acronym that stands for the structures jumped from: building, antenna, span, and earth – was a solitary pursuit. You climbed a building or a cliff and you jumped strictly for the thrill of it. Today, thanks to GoPro, Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRO), the sport has practically gone mainstream, seen by millions on platforms like YouTube. GoPro, Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRO) isn’t exactly a household name, but anyone who has spent a little time on YouTube is surely familiar with the thousands of snowboarding, surfing, and even skateboarding baby videos that its cameras produce. 

The technology company has changed the sports we watch, the way we watch them, and how we think about ourselves and communicate that to others, all the while managing to shake up stodgy institutions like the Olympics. Over the last decade, the International Olympic Committee has introduced a number of new highflying and fast-moving sports to its lineup. Several of them – like ski halfpipe, ski and snowboard slopestyle, and the snowboard parallel slalom – are the type of acrobatic sports favored by the GoPro-wearing and YouTube-loving X Games crowd. They’ve done it to keep up with the adrenaline-soaked obsessions of the youth audience.

GoPro, Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRO) sits among the 12 Best High Risk Penny Stocks to Buy Now

With that said, here is our List of the Most Popular Extreme Sports

20 Most Popular Extreme Sports in the US20 Most Popular Extreme Sports in the US

20 Most Popular Extreme Sports in the US



To collect data for this article, we have referred to a number of sources, such as SportsEvents Magazine, SportsUnfold, Reddit etc., looking for the Most Popular Extreme Sports in America. We picked sports that appeared at least twice in these sources, assigned them a score based on their number of appearances, and ranked them accordingly. 

If you’re also interested in the companies revolutionizing the world of sport, here are the Top Sports Tech Companies and Startups in the World

20. Wingsuit Flying

Insider Monkey Score: 2

Wingsuit flying is the most extreme air sport in the world. It is said that one must have completed at least 500 skydiving jumps before donning a wingsuit. The goal is to soar into the sky and fly like a bird (or jet) at speeds exceeding 120 miles per hour. 

19. Parkour

Insider Monkey Score: 2

Parkour has its roots in France, but it is becoming more popular in the United States. The relatively new, and largely underground practice, sometimes also called free running, requires strength, agility, discipline, and guts.

18. Jet Skiing

Insider Monkey Score: 2

Jet skiing is a modern and popular sport that is becoming more in-demand every year. In 2017, the number of participants (aged six years and older) in jet skiing amounted to approximately 5.42 million. Sea-Doo was the largest personal watercraft brand in 2018 with a market share of 55%. 

17. Spelunking

Insider Monkey Score: 3

Spelunking, or caving, is a popular and dangerous sport among adventure-enthusiasts and explorers seeking the thrills of undiscovered deep, dark, and sometimes cramped spaces. This increasingly popular recreational activity has you explore caves or grottos, as you walk, climb, squeeze, and crawl your way through tight passages. 

Spelunking is one of the most popular extreme sports in the U.S. for adults.

16. Heli Skiing

Insider Monkey Score: 3

Heli skiing is off-trail, downhill skiing that is accessed by a helicopter. It’s about skiing in natural environments without the effort that comes with hiking to these areas. Most heli skiers are looking for powder snow, natural terrain features, long descents, smooth corn snow, old-growth tree glades, and steep lines. Alaska is a popular heli skiing destination in the United States. 

Heli Skiing ranks among the Most Popular Extreme Sports in the U.S. in 2023

15. Freestyle Skiing

Insider Monkey Score: 3

This popular extreme sport is a type of skiing discipline that features aerial stunts and acrobatic maneuvers, usually in mid-air. The goal is to get as much air as possible so that you can turn or flip your body before nailing the landing. Freestyle skiing has been contested at the Winter Olympic Games since the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France.

14. Whitewater Rafting

Insider Monkey Score: 3

The rivers of the United States offer some of the world’s best whitewater rafting opportunities, with thrills for experienced rafters and newbies alike. Whitewater paddlers contribute a significant amount of money to local economies. Through spending money on gas, food, lodging and other items, paddlers provide revenue to rural communities.

Whitewater rafting is counted among America’s Most Popular Extreme Sports

13. Motocross

Insider Monkey Score: 3

Initially developed from motorcycle trials, motocross is a sport that requires a great amount of skill. Riders perform tricks like leaps, ditches and trespassing, while riding on winding, challenging routes across harsh terrain. Motocross is ranked among the Hardest Sports in the World

Monster Energy, owned by the Monster Beverage Corporation (NASDAQ:MNST), recently extended its Supercross title sponsorship until 2025. The energy drink is already the official energy drink of Pro Motocross and Supercross, with the long-term partnership with Supercross beginning in 2007.

12. Scuba Diving

Insider Monkey Score: 4

Some 2.7 million Americans scuba dived at least once in 2022, representing a 7.3% increase on the previous year. Research shows that expenditures on reef-related scuba diving and snorkeling in Southeast Florida support 8,668 jobs and generate about $902 million in total economic output over the course of a year. 

11. Surfing

Insider Monkey Score: 4

There are over 3.5 million surfers in the US, with youth accounting for approximately 32% of that demographic. California is the state with the most surfing locations, with 403 surf spots in total. This is perhaps unsurprising – the Golden State is well known for its surfing tradition, and the International Surfing Association has its headquarters there.

Surfing Economics is an emerging field of research that documents and quantifies the total economic value of surfing. This can include, for example, increased house prices near good quality breaks, or social welfare benefits people derive from visiting surf beaches.

10. Kayaking

Insider Monkey Score: 4

Kayaking grows in participation year after year, and has been doing so for the last decade. Over 18.56 million people in the U.S. reported that they went kayaking in 2021. 

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation participants spend $86 billion annually on watersports (kayaking, stand-up paddling, rafting, canoeing, and motorized boating), the second highest revenue stream, with camping in the lead at $142 billion.

9. BASE Jumping

Insider Monkey Score: 5

BASE jumping is the recreational sport of jumping from fixed objects, using a parachute to descend safely to the ground. BASE jumping is considered one of the most dangerous extreme sports in the world and because of this, many states and countries have completely banned the practice. The Perrine Bridge in Idaho is currently the only legal destination in the United States for year-round BASE jumping.

BASE jumping sits among the top 10 extreme sports

8. Bungee Jumping

Insider Monkey Score: 5

While bungee jumping may have been invented in New Zealand, the United States is home to more than a few prime bungee jumping spots where adrenaline junkies can really get their heart pumping. The highest jump in the United States is from the Rio Grande Bridge and measures among one of the highest bungee jumping spots in the world.

7. BMX Bicycling

Insider Monkey Score: 5

With the American bicycle market estimated at $6.2 billion, and with approximately 17 million sales of bikes annually, it’s no surprise BMX has made a comeback.

In 2022, the number of participants in BMX biking in the United States peaked, amounting to approximately 4.18 million. This was an increase of 8.3% from the previous year and marked a return to the growth BMX biking participation experienced in the U.S. continuously between 2011 and 2020.

6. Mountain Biking

Insider Monkey Score: 5

In 2022, the number of participants in mountain/non-paved surface biking reached over 8.9 million. While this represented a 2.6% increase from the previous year, it was still less than the 2020 figure, when approximately nine million cyclists took part in the activity.

The mountain bike market in the U.S. was estimated at 11.9 million units in the year 2020. Mountains Biking ranks among the Top 7 Extreme Sports in the U.S.

Click to continue reading and see the 5 Most Popular Extreme Sports in the US.

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Disclosure: None. 20 Most Popular Extreme Sports in the US is originally published on Insider Monkey.


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