Key takeaways:

  • Nationwide online interest in extreme sports has increased by 8% over the past 12 months
  • Skateboarding remains the nation’s most popular extreme sport
  • The biggest increase in online searches was recorded by sports rooted in nature and exploration, like rock climbing and scuba diving
  • We may be starting to see a shift in popularity as some of the most well-known extreme sports, like skateboarding, inline skating and bungee jumping start losing steam

Thrill-seeking behavior is fascinating – it often goes against our most basic instincts and reflexes. Nature did not want us jumping out of airplanes or climbing sheer rock faces bare handed, yet we still do it. When asked why he wanted to climb Everest, George Mallory simply responded: “Because it is there.”

Extreme sports also offer a unique insight into how we push our limits and discover ourselves. That makes it even more insightful when considering the fact that the global pandemic has inspired a wave of people to reconnect with nature, to try new things and to test the boundaries of their own minds and bodies.

To get a sense of how people are rediscovering themselves and the world around them, we’ve turned to Google to gauge interest in extreme sports. We’ve analyzed online searches for the past year and compared them to past trends to see how people’s interest in sports deemed “extreme” has evolved over time.

The Big Three: Skateboarding, mountain biking and rock climbing are the most popular extreme sports in the U.S.

Extreme sports interest has been dominated in the past year by three leaders: skateboarding, mountain biking and rock climbing. The top 10 most populous states in the U.S. all demonstrate a preference for these three, with few exceptions.

Skateboarding remains the most searched-for extreme sport across the US, with 550,000 average monthly searches. While some of this popularity is due to its utilitarian function as a form of urban micro-transport, skateboarding also had the distinct honor of being included as an Olympic sport in last year’s summer games.

skateboarder performing a jump at a sunny skatepark

Mountain biking is the second-most searched-for extreme sport with about 450,000 average monthly searches, and for good reason. A bicycle, even a specialized one for rough terrain, is still fairly affordable when compared to skydiving equipment or an ice yacht. It can also pay for itself over time if you use it as a regular means of transportation. Trails are abundant in most states and there are plenty of variations of the sport to keep everyone interested, including downhill, dirt jumping, trail riding and bikepacking.

Rock climbing is not only in the top three, but interest in it has been shooting up. Online queries related to rock climbing increased by 83% since October 2021, reaching a monthly average count of 368,000 searches.

Top10 most popular extreme sports

The East Coast loves jet skiing and surfing, while Ohio puts rallies in first place

Zooming in on state-level preferences, there are exceptions to the Big Three. Skateboarding’s absolute dominance of the southern states is broken by Florida’s love of water – jet skiing takes first place as the most searched-for extreme sport, with 49,500 average monthly searches. This number matches that of California, where the sport takes fourth place.

Jet skiing enthusiasts are not limited to warm waters. On the contrary, the cooler waters off the shores of Maryland and Delaware have seen significant interest from their more adventurous inhabitants, as jet skiing has been the third-most searched-for sport with 6,600 and 1,000 average monthly searches respectively.

Ohio is where rallying seems to be on everyone’s mind, as it is the most searched-for extreme sport. It’s no wonder, as the state has a rich history of competitive rallying going back to 1973, and it has hosted 22 national championship events since then. The year 2020 put a break on things but interest has remained strong – there is no significant year-over-year decline in the over 22,000 average monthly searches for rallying in The Buckeye State.

Almost as soon as surfer mania hit the West Coast, someone out east was already making it a local tradition. So much so that today the most searched-for extreme sport in New Hampshire is surfing. The calmer summers are great for practitioners of all levels, while the cold season’s hurricanes and blizzards make the beaches of New Hampshire the hottest spot on the East Coast for more experienced wave riders. It seems the end of the pandemic has made the dramatic swells of New Hampshire much more tantalizing, with an 83% increase in searches for surfing in the state – an average of 5,400 per month.

surfer in the air above a wave

Top sports: People are rediscovering nature through extreme sports like rock climbing and scuba diving

When it comes to overall growth across the country, the extreme sports that trended the most were exploration-oriented, perhaps reflecting people’s longing to reconnect with the outside world. Rock climbing was the biggest standout with a huge 83% increase in interest, while scuba diving takes second place with a 50% increase in average monthly searches year-over-year.

Alaskans grew especially fond of rock climbing as interest rose from 390 searches per month to 2,400 one year later, peaking at 2,900 during the summer months for an incredible 515% overall increase year-over-year.

Scuba diving also attracts rising interest, especially in North Dakota, Montana and Mississippi, where searches have gone up by approximately 130%. What makes this interesting is that two of those states are far from what are considered typical diving locations like Florida or the West Coast. North Dakota and Montana are completely landlocked, so diving locations are scarce compared to states around the Gulf of Mexico for example. Still, people are showing interest in extreme sports that are atypical for their area and may be willing to travel many miles for the chance to do them.

Mountain biking has seen a spike in interest in Connecticut and Delaware, where online searches have gone up by 125% and 84% respectively but it has declined in Iowa with a 55% drop in interest.

Snowboarding in Hawaii – if that sounds completely contradictory to you, it didn’t to the people there who made over 1,000 average monthly searches last winter. Hawaii does get some snow atop its highest volcanic peaks, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The latter is the best destination in the state for snowboarding and skiing – its name even means “the white mountain.” Searches here have increased by 83%, just one percentage point behind the District of Columbia, where interest grew by 84%.

Jet skiing attracts increasing attention in Idaho, where online searches for the sport have increased by 81%. Idaho has no lack of beautiful lakes and reservoirs, especially up north where you can find plenty of jet skiing destinations around Lake Pend Oreille and Harrison Slough.

Remember parkour? California does. Searches are up by 124% here but national interest is stagnating – across the country only D.C. and Oregon boast increases, of 39% and 22% respectively, while in most other states parkour is in the red. It’s interesting to note that, according to Google Trends, parkour was at the height of interest after the release of 2007’s Assassin’s Creed video game – specifically after the appearance of a pirated version that anyone could download for free – where parkour featured heavily in gameplay and was one of the main selling points.

The poster child for extreme sports, skydiving, is still attracting growing interest, especially in states like Montana with 84% and Hawaii with 81%.

Surfing, a sport which depends on very precise weather conditions and locations, has been attracting a lot of attention from inland. The biggest growth was registered in Arizona, where searches shot up by 125%. Wyoming isn’t far behind with 100%, and another landlocked state, South Dakota, has been 88% more curious about hangin’ ten. This would seem to corroborate the idea that people are looking to try out things that are vastly different from what their surroundings limit them to.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be the human equivalent of a bobsled, longboarding may give you a sense of that feeling. The winding paved roads that descend Hawaii’s slopes have been making locals curious as well – online searches for longboarding in the state grew by 123%, greatly outpacing the runner up, D.C., with 84%.

Motocross has also seen a healthy growth in interest this past year, the standouts being the District of Columbia and Wyoming with 129% and 91% respectively. In fact, the only state where interest decreased was Vermont.mountain biker riding on trail in green forest

Not all of the most popular extreme sports will stay that way: Skateboarding, inline skating, and bungee jumping lose some of their appeal

Many of the most searched-for extreme sports have experienced a loss in interest, signaling a shift in the type of activities people are curious about.

Skateboarding, although an all-time favorite across the board, has seen a drop in year-over-year searches, particularly in Ohio, Tennessee and Vermont where it fell by more than 40%. It remained unchanged year-over-year in the District of Columbia and North Dakota.

The 2nd biggest decline among the top 20 most searched-for extreme sports was recorded in inline skating, which fell by 33%. Bungee jumping and parasailing also took a big hit, dropping by 18% and 19% respectively.

Extreme Facts!

  • Flowriding is to surfing what treadmills are to running – a huge machine creates sheet waves that you can ride on a surfboard while remaining stationary. Nebraska got their first FlowRider in 2015 at the Pawnee Plunge Water Park, and it seems people have been aching to try it out after lockdowns – interest in the state skyrocketed to six times previous levels!
  • It’s been a while since many of us have seen a pogo stick, but that’s not the case in New York State! Searches for extreme pogo grew here by 200%, while most of the country ignored it. Perhaps New Yorkers are finding new ways to navigate their bustling city!
  • Skysurfing gathered many new fans when the Power Rangers movie hit cinemas in 1995. Its legendary opening scene featured the Green Ranger skysurfing, and no doubt created a new wave of thrill seekers at the time. Today, however, the sport has fallen out of favor. In California, where extreme sports thrive, searches have decreased by 93%, which accounts for most of the nationwide decline.
  • Volcano boarding doesn’t mean surfing on molten lava, unfortunately. This activity, similar to downhill sledding, can only be done outside the United States since Hawaii’s volcanic slopes aren’t adequate, but that didn’t stop interest from doubling in Washington, Utah and New Jersey.

What will the future of the extreme sports scene look like?

The landscape of extreme sports is changing. The numbers give a sense of not only renewed interest but a new direction as well. What was thrilling up until now is no longer enough. People are willing to go long distances to try new things, to rediscover the world and themselves. Time to trade in that skateboard for a scuba tank – the extreme sports scene may look very different in the years to come!

Extreme Sports In The U.S

StateExtreme Sports Online Searches1st place2nd place3rd place4th place5th place1st Place Online Searches2nd place Online Searches3rd place Online Searches4th place Online Searches5th place Online Searches
Alabama37,390SkateboardingJet SkiingRock ClimbingMountain BikingParkour5,4003,6003,0402,9202,400
Alaska9,920Rock ClimbingSnowmobilingSnowboardingMountain BikingSkateboarding1,3901,3101,300890720
Arizona96,740SkateboardingRock ClimbingMountain BikingSnowboardingJet Skiing14,80010,2209,9906,6006,600
Arkansas23,650SkateboardingMountain BikingRock ClimbingRallyingJet Skiing3,6002,9302,4901,9001,600
California751,670SkateboardingMountain BikingRock ClimbingSnowboardingJet Skiing135,00074,88063,40049,50049,500
Colorado95,900Mountain BikingSnowboardingRock ClimbingSkateboardingSnowmobiling12,27012,10010,6209,9005,430
Connecticut39,910Mountain BikingSkateboardingSnowboardingJet SkiingSky Diving4,4304,4304,4002,9001,900
Delaware15,260Mountain BikingSkateboardingJet SkiingRock ClimbingSnowboarding6,6106,6101,000760590
District Of Columbia16,900Rock ClimbingMountain BikingSkateboardingSnowboardingJet Skiing2,0401,9101,9001,0001,000
Florida327,430Jet SkiingSkateboardingRock ClimbingParasailingMountain Biking49,50040,50028,10027,10022,460
Georgia114,300SkateboardingRock ClimbingMountain BikingJet SkiingSky Diving18,10010,3809,9709,9006,600
Hawaii45,630SurfingParasailingWakeboardingSkateboardingJet Skiing9,9005,4004,0803,6003,600
Idaho23,300Mountain BikingSnowboardingRock ClimbingSkateboardingSnowmobiling2,9202,9202,4902,4001,610
Illinois137,000SkateboardingRock ClimbingMountain BikingSnowboardingJet Skiing22,20012,8209,9909,9009,900
Indiana65,070RallyingSkateboardingMountain BikingRock ClimbingSnowboarding12,1008,1005,4504,6603,600
Iowa22,660SkateboardingMountain BikingSnowboardingRock ClimbingJet Skiing3,6001,9101,9001,6901,600
Kansas26,800LongboardingSkateboardingMountain BikingRock ClimbingJet Skiing4,4003,6002,9102,4901,600
Kentucky35,830RallyingSkateboardingMountain BikingRock ClimbingParkour8,1004,4002,9202,5401,900
Louisiana32,220SkateboardingRallyingRock ClimbingMountain BikingJet Skiing4,4003,6002,5402,4202,400
Maine16,250SnowmobilingMountain BikingSkateboardingSnowboardingRock Climbing1,9101,6201,6001,6001,390
Maryland88,940Mountain BikingSkateboardingJet SkiingRock ClimbingSnowboarding27,15027,1506,6005,7904,400
Massachusetts95,030Rock ClimbingMountain BikingSkateboardingSnowboardingJet Skiing12,6909,9709,9008,1006,600
Michigan109,270SkateboardingSnowboardingMountain BikingRock ClimbingJet Skiing12,10012,10010,0108,5808,100
Minnesota70,960SnowmobilingSkateboardingSnowboardingMountain BikingRock Climbing8,3608,1008,1006,6705,720
Mississippi15,570SkateboardingJet SkiingRock ClimbingMountain BikingParkour2,4001,6001,0501,0101,000
Missouri67,610LongboardingSkateboardingRallyingRock ClimbingMountain Biking12,1006,6006,6005,6105,440
Montana12,370Rock ClimbingMountain BikingSnowboardingSnowmobilingSkateboarding1,7101,6201,6001,0101,000
Nebraska18,030Mountain BikingSkateboardingRock ClimbingJet SkiingSnowboarding2,9102,9101,6701,3001,000
Nevada46,660SkateboardingMountain BikingRock ClimbingSnowboardingJet Skiing8,1005,4404,5704,4003,600
New Hampshire21,720SurfingMountain BikingSnowboardingRock ClimbingSnowmobiling5,4001,9301,9001,7101,610
New Jersey117,830SkateboardingRock ClimbingMountain BikingJet SkiingSnowboarding14,80012,69012,24012,1009,900
New Mexico20,420SkateboardingRock ClimbingMountain BikingSnowboardingParkour3,6002,4902,4101,9001,000
New York291,330Mountain BikingRock ClimbingSkateboardingSnowboardingJet Skiing49,71049,71033,10022,20022,200
North Carolina121,670SkateboardingMountain BikingRock ClimbingJet SkiingSnowboarding18,10012,21010,3809,9008,100
North Dakota9,670SnowmobilingJet SkiingMountain BikingSnowboardingSkateboarding2,4301,300890880720
Ohio126,130RallyingSkateboardingRock ClimbingMountain ClimbingMountain Biking22,20014,8008,5808,2008,170
Oklahoma31,350SkateboardingRock ClimbingMountain BikingJet SkiingParkour5,4003,7402,9202,4001,900
Oregon62,580Rock ClimbingSkateboardingMountain BikingSnowboardingParkour8,3608,1006,6706,6003,600
Pennsylvania137,670Mountain BikingSkateboardingRock ClimbingSnowboardingJet Skiing22,46022,46012,69012,1008,100
Rhode Island11,100Rock ClimbingSkateboardingMountain BikingSnowboardingJet Skiing1,3701,300890880880
South Carolina44,680SkateboardingJet SkiingMountain BikingRock ClimbingParasailing5,4005,4004,4203,0402,900
South Dakota7,410SkateboardingMountain BikingSnowboardingRock ClimbingSnowmobiling880730720610500
Tennessee57,890SkateboardingRock ClimbingMountain BikingJet SkiingParkour9,9005,6605,4404,4003,600
Texas335,100SkateboardingRock ClimbingMountain BikingJet SkiingSky Diving60,50034,40033,42027,10018,100
Utah59,970Mountain BikingSkateboardingSnowboardingRock ClimbingSnowmobiling8,1908,1906,6005,7202,920
Vermont9,030Mountain BikingSnowboardingRock ClimbingSnowmobilingSkateboarding1,3101,310950890880
Virginia100,440SkateboardingRock ClimbingMountain BikingSnowboardingJet Skiing12,10010,38010,0106,6006,600
Washington95,050SkateboardingRock ClimbingSnowboardingMountain BikingJet Skiing14,80012,5809,9008,1706,600
West Virginia14,220Mountain BikingMountain ClimbingSkateboardingSnowboardingRock Climbing1,9301,9301,6001,000930
Wisconsin58,280SkateboardingSnowboardingSnowmobilingMountain BikingRock Climbing6,6006,6005,5405,4504,610
Wyoming6,700Mountain BikingSnowboardingSnowmobilingRock ClimbingSkateboarding1,0101,010730630590
Source: Storagecafe analysis of Google Keyword Planner data

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an extreme sport?

Unlike a regular sport such as tennis or basketball, an extreme sport is a type of sport in which the athlete must accept a high risk of injury or worse. Traditional sports mostly take place in specifically designed facilities, use a scoring system to determine a winner, and focus at least some of their efforts towards providing a spectacle, something to create an emotional response in the audience. Extreme sports use the available environment, often keep no score other than scrapes and bruises, and are much more focused on the intense personal experience of the person performing them.

How dangerous are extreme sports?

All extreme sports have an element of danger in them. Some extreme sports put practitioners in extremely high-risk situations regardless of their level of expertise, like jumping out of an airplane or going down whitewater rapids, where the chance of serious injury or worse is also much higher. Other sports like skateboarding have developed a tamer public image, mostly because we see people on skateboards every day moving around town. However, if you’ve ever seen Jake Brown fall from 45 feet up after detaching from his board in mid-air, you’ll know that skateboarding can be as extreme as it gets. It all depends on how far each practitioner is willing to push themselves … and that push is often part of the fun!

Are extreme sports expensive?

It depends greatly. You can buy a pair of roller skates pretty cheaply, but an iceboat will be a more significant investment. Some extreme sports aren’t expensive due to the equipment that is required but due to location. You can basically build a volcano board out of some wood panels in less than a day but getting to the nearest suitable volcano will be where most of the money goes.

How to care for extreme sports equipment?

Depends heavily on the sport, some like skateboarding are low maintenance and take up very little space, others like ice yachting are a serious investment, take up a lot of space and need constant maintenance to protect said investment. Cleaning, waxing and replacing damaged components as well as periodic equipment and safety checks are common for many extreme sports, as the life of the practitioner often depends on it!

Jet skis and snowmobiles, for example, require thorough engine, oil, exhaust and electrical checks in order to be safely stored during the off-season.

How to store extreme sports equipment?

Since many popular extreme sports like surfing or skiing are seasonal, it’s very likely that the necessary gear will have to go several months without being used. During this period, it is still exposed to outside factors that can damage it over time, like dirt, dust, water or sunlight. It’s always best to keep the gear in an enclosed storage unit, preferably one with climate control.

climbing equipment helmet ropes carabiners on wooden surface

With climate-controlled units you regulate the temperature and humidity in your unit to your exact requirements, ensuring the best protection. These types of units have a slightly higher upfront cost – the national average price is $142/month compared to $126/month for a standard unit – but they save you untold amounts in extra maintenance and repairs.

You can find storage units with a quick search, or you can check out how much climate-controlled units cost in some of the major cities across the country.

What the experts say about extreme sports

We asked the experts to find out more about what makes extreme sports so popular today.

Gerald Gems, professor emeritus of kinesiology at North Central College, IL

Gerald Gems professor emeritus of kinesiology at North Central College, Illinois
Gerald Gems professor emeritus of kinesiology at North Central College, Illinois

Why are we seeing this increase in online interest for extreme sports?
I think the general increase in interest has a correlation to the COVID pandemic. People were isolated for so long in a state of monotony and were craving new experiences and some excitement.

Read more....

What drives people to practice extreme sports? Is it the adrenaline rush, a different risk-tolerance, or something else?
Professor Csikzentmihalyi studied a phenomenon that he called "flow" for decades. It is a sort of natural high that one can achieve when totally absorbed and focused on any activity, from skydiving to knitting. It produces dopamine and increases endorphins in the brain, a form of extreme concentration and pleasure. Extreme sports can even induce a state of euphoria.

Early studies of extreme athletes supposed that they were risk takers with self-destructive tendencies; but more recent studies have disproved that notion.

Psychologists have even surmised that Type T personalities are more prone to be risk takers; but that can extend beyond just sports participation to include risk taking as entrepreneurs and scientists, which accounts for much of human progress.



This analysis was done by StorageCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation.

The goal of this report is to gauge public interest in extreme sports and how this interest has been trending over time. To accomplish this, we used Google’s Keyword Planner tool to obtain search volumes for all activities currently categorized as extreme sports. Average monthly search volume per sport for each U.S. state was included in the study, from October 2021 to October 2022.

We looked not only at the number of searches but also at how this number changes over the study’s 12 months of data.

Self storage data came from our sister division Yardi Matrix. Yardi Matrix is a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self storage sectors.

Fair use and distribution

This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content but we do require a mention in return for attribution purposes.


George is a Real Estate Writer and Lifestyle Editor for Yardi, with a background in languages, marketing and YouTube content creation. He is now seeking to bring his love of detail and storytelling to the world of real estate. You can find him browsing Age of Sail books at your local bookstore, probably...

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