Canoeing and kayaking is also one of the fastest growing sports in the United States with ocean kayaking exploding as a popular sport. If you live in an area where ocean kayaking is popular, along the Pacific Coast, the Northeastern United States or the Great Lakes, there are a number of outfitters that you can visit to take day trips on. Some of these trips are an outright bargain, starting as low as $40 for several hours including your paddlecraft, all your safety equipment and even a guide/instructor.
In almost all parts of the country paddling schools and clubs can be found. Skills can be polished in the safe environment of a swimming pool where a novice paddler can practice critical skills like self-rescue and Eskimo rolls.
Many stores that sell canoes and kayaks have open houses where manufacturer representatives can be on hand to answer questions. Boats are available to be tried out and issues like paddle selection and shaft length can be determined with scientific precision. A new canoe for two with all of the required gear will start around $1,000. A new kayak for one with all the gear starts around $500. It is very easy, especially in ocean kayaking, touring, or whitewater to get over $3,500.
Mountain biking is also a very popular sport. Although there are some issues with trail restrictions outfitters can be found that will provide you with a bike and safety gear. Skills and technique can be taught to prefect climbing difficult terrain and descending steep terrain safely. Although inexpensive mountain bikes can be purchase for under $150, quality gear can run over $1,000 fast, and will afford far more comfort and last longer.
Downhill skiing has experienced some decline as an outdoor sport over the last few years. Poor snow conditions, long lines, and expensive lift tickets have put up a number of barriers for a lot of people. The great news is the skiing industry is out to reverse this trend. Many ski areas can provide you with a novice skier pass that will include your gear, instruction for the day, and a lift ticket for well under $50. Naturally you will need to provide warm and dry clothing.
Downhill skiing gear that will last you through an intermediate skill level can be purchased for around $500 and will offer years of service. If you buy quality outdoor clothing expect to spend another $500. If you live in the more frigid parts of the country you can get a lot of use out of those warm ski bibs and Gore-Tex jacket. A season ski pass at a good mountain can be purchased for as little as $300 if you buy it before the season starts. That same pass might cost $1,000 in December! If going skiing requires getting on an airplane, you may want to consider not buying your gear at all.
No matter what new adventure you want to try, there are a large number of low cost options available that will allow you to explore the challenges of a new sport with out giving yourself a cashectomy. To find an outfitter you can look in the yellow pages of your phone book under, "guides," or "outfitters." The local Chamber of Commerce can provide you information, and of course the internet provides you a wealth of opportunity to find your guide into the world of great outdoor adventure. So take a bite out of the great outdoors, and find your new passion.