Paragliding in the US (Rules and Locations in California, Texas, and the Rest of the USA)

You will not lack stunning locations and views when paragliding in the USA. Whether it’s mountains, coasts, forests, lakes, or plains, you can find your choice of vista in the US. With the abundance of locations where you can launch, your paragliding experience will only be limited by your passion and, of course, your flying proficiency.
Paragliding in the US

Table of Contents

Paraglider pilots fly under the auspices of the United States Hang Gliding Association (USHGA), which sets the guidelines to which all pilots must comply. The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA) promotes familiarity with pilot safety, skills, and flying rules.

The USHPA also evaluates and certifies all pilots’ skill levels. This certification serves as a baseline for the pilot when flying from an unfamiliar location. It also identifies whether the pilot is a beginner, intermediate, or an expert.

Is Paragliding Legal in the US?

Yes, it’s legal throughout the US. However, it does not mean that you can fly wherever you want. There are certain areas where it is restricted and not allowed for your own and the public’s safety as well. You also cannot fly over and land on private properties where the owners do not allow it. So, what other areas are you not allowed to fly over?

  • Roads: You might suffer a wing collapse when flying over a busy street and get run over.
  • Power lines: You might end up getting tangled in one of those things.
  • Near airports: As you will be a safety issue for aircraft and yourself.
  • Along commercial airplane flight paths: See above for the reason.
  • Shopping centers: Flights are not allowed over any congested area of a town or city or any open-air assembly of persons.
  • Schools and car parks: Same reason as above. Schools and car parks are congested areas, so it’s best to steer clear.
  • Military bases: Flying over military bases is to be avoided. Ongoing military or flight training might compromise your safety. Skydivers might be jumping out of airplanes, and you don’t want to have one of them falling on your canopy.
  • Police land: Police land should be avoided for the same reason you avoid military bases. Police training and helicopters might be around.
  • Government property: Residences of distinguished government officials.
  • Property with privacy concerns: Properties where the owners have some privacy concerns.
  • Temporary flight restrictions (TFR): May be announced for some areas from time to time. Forest fires, VIPs in the area, etc., could be some reason for having a TFR.

Do You Need a License to Paraglide in the US?

No, you don’t need a license to paraglide. The sport is regulated under the Federal Regulations Section 103, and the paragliders regulate themselves under the authority and policies of the United States Hang Gliding Association (USHGA). As such, they may require the pilots to be certified to a certain level to fly a particular site.

The USHPA requires paragliders to meet a minimum level of ability to fly from a regulated site. This means you will have to take some lessons and get certified so you can launch from one of their sites. Some sites are insured by the USHGA, and they will not allow uncertified pilots to fly there so they can maintain that condition for insurance purposes.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Paraglide in the US?

There is no minimum age limit to paraglide in the US. However, waivers will need to be signed by a qualified adult or guardian for minors. Some sites even require the adult to be present when the minor has the flight.

Some sites have an arbitrary age limit on paragliders. However, most have four years old as their minimum. So it’s really up to the different sites what they feel is the safe age for the kids to fly.

Where Can You Paraglide in the US?

The US has a considerable number of great sites where you can paraglide. In fact, your problem will be deciding which site to fly to. So, here’s a short list of states to choose from. This is by no means complete, but it’s a good place to start. You can also find other sites nearer to your location in other resources like the USHPA.

  • Sedona Red Rocks, Arizona
  • Tiger Mountain, Washington
  • Jean Ridge Dry Bed, Nevada
  • Hawaii
  • Sun Valley, Idaho
  • Point of the Mountain, Utah
  • Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Almost anywhere on the coast of California
  • Oregon
  • Montana
  • Texas

Can You Paraglide in California?

Of course, you can. However, most sites require that you must have a valid USHPA membership and rating if you are flying solo. This is where the importance of having a current USHPA membership and certification comes in. You can present your qualifications, and the site admins will guide you to the appropriate launch zone.

Some paragliding sites may have their own rules, but they will mostly be in line with USHPA guidelines. Unique characteristics of the different sites may dictate those rules. This is to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all fliers.

Can You Paraglide in Los Angeles?

Yes, you definitely can paraglide in Los Angeles. The LA area has paragliding sites for beginners and intermediates alike. Below are some locations where LA paragliding provides a unique experience. You can choose between beaches, mountains, and canyons when paragliding in the Los Angeles area.

  • Kagel Canyon, Sylmar: Has great grassy fields for taking off and landing. You will find this place a good mountain-paragliding opportunity. The strong thermals make this site close to an intermediate paragliding place. Although beginners will also find some perfect weather for them. So, if you’re looking for something different from coastal views, this is a go-to place.
  • Calabasas: Has mountain and valley sceneries that make for an unforgettable paragliding outing.
  • Corral Canyon: Is one of the best paragliding sites along the Pacific coast. It’s on the lip of the Pacific Ocean and is encircled by a vast number of trees. One of the best LA paragliding locations for sure.
  • Deer Creek: Similar to Corral Canyon, Deer Creek is also located along the Pacific Ocean coastline. Although not as well-known as Corral Canyon, this has the advantage of uncrowded skies.
  • Mount Lukens: The highest point of elevation near LA. This makes it a perfect takeoff spot for you to get a long ride.
  • Point Mugu: Another very popular spot near LA, offers an hour-long ride. You take off from Laguna Peak and fly over some scenic mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Is Paragliding Legal in California?

Yes, it’s legal in California. But make sure your USHPA membership and certificate are up-to-date. Otherwise, you may not be allowed to fly from their many delightful sites. Also, it does not mean that you can just fly anywhere you like.

The best paragliding sites in CA are already well-known among the paragliding circles. It would be crazy not to take advantage of that area’s accumulated knowledge of the paragliding world. It’s best to follow the locals’ recommendations on where to fly in CA for the most enjoyable experience.

Can You Fly a Paraglider Without a License Near California?

Yes. In fact, a license is not required anywhere in the US to fly a paraglider. But you have to be a certified pilot by USHPA so you can fly to the best sites. These sites require you to be an USHPA-accredited pilot to avoid accidents (and lawsuits).

Strictly speaking, the USHPA certification is not a license but a skill-based qualification indicating your ability. This will serve as a guide for the different launching sites so they can direct you to the most suitable site according to your capability. At the moment, there is no licensing body for paraglider pilots, but USHPA takes it upon itself to police its ranks.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Paraglide in California?

There is no set minimum age to paraglide in California or even in the whole USA, as a matter of fact. Some sites would allow children four years of age to fly in tandem. On the other end of the spectrum, 80-year-olds were taken tandem paragliding. In any case, these were all physically fit people without any major health conditions.

For someone to fly solo, it is recommended that you must be at least 14 years old. However, this is not an official declaration. There is no authoritative statement yet on this subject. Most European countries adopt the ages 15 to 16 as the right age for aspiring pilots to get certified. In Tenerife, Spain, a 108-year-old is still allowed to paraglide!

How Much Does a Paragliding Setup Cost Near California?

Paragliding equipment does not come cheap. A brand-new set can cost up to $5,000 or more, while used equipment can go for as cheap as $3,000. Aside from these, you also need some essential accessories when you fly. Whatever you choose, do not compromise on the quality versus the cost if you can afford it. It’s literally a matter of life and death.

The wing or canopy can set you back $3,000 to $4,000. Depending on the type and quality, a harness will cost anywhere from $400 to $2000. Helmets will range from around $150 to $600. A good pair of gloves costs $50.

Reserve parachutes are a must-have. A brand-new one can be purchased for between $600 to $1200. Sturdy hiking boots will be around $200. Then the weatherproof backpack to carry all other essential gear will cost between $150 to $200. This brings you to those other accessories like radio, altimeter, variometer, and GPS that can cost an additional $500.

Where Can You Paraglide in California?

California is one of the best states to paraglide in the US. Its long coastline offers a wealth of sites to launch from. So take your pick from the list below. It is by no means complete, but it just shows you a glimpse of what CA has to offer.

  • Torrey Pines, La Jolla: “Spectacular” is the most used word to describe the view when paragliding on this site.
  • Santa Barbara: You have a great bird’s eye view of Santa Barbara’s red-tile roofs.
  • Saddle Peak: Along the Pacific coast, it has year-round paragliding weather. As a result, beginners might find this site a bit challenging.
  • Blackhawk: An hour’s drive away from San Bernardino. It has a high launch point. Beginners and intermediates alike find exhilarating views of nearby hills and valleys as well as the Big Bear Lake.
  • Henninger Flats: Near Pasadena, it offers a soft, sandy landing point after your flight over trees and valleys.
  • Mount Wilson: Well-known for its beauty, it is a great launch site at an elevation of over 5,578 feet (1,700 meters).
  • Tuna Canyon: Has strong Santa Ana winds. The hot, dry winds coming from inland make for great thermals. Intermediate paragliders love this site for that reason.
  • Marshall: Located between California and the Mojave Desert. Marshall is an excellent spot for skilled pilots due to its thermals. However, beginners are strongly discouraged from flying here.

Can You Fly a Paraglider Without a License Near Texas?

You can definitely fly a paraglider without a license near Texas. Actually, there is no licensing agency for paraglider pilots in the US at this time. In place of a license, paragliders have a pilot rating issued by the USHPA.

This rating is in no way a pilot’s license. It only serves as a measure of a pilot’s skill. A pilot’s rating will allow him to fly from locations other than his “home” paragliding club according to his competence.

How Much Does a Paraglider Setup Cost Near Texas?

Paragliding equipment costs around the US will not vary by much. The prices you pay will depend on the gear of your choice. Higher-quality materials can cost twice as much as lower-quality stuff.

To recap, a brand-new setup can cost $5,000 or more. Secondhand equipment can go for as low as $3,000, but you have to be very careful when buying secondhand gear. Make sure that it is still airworthy. Accessories will cost at least $500. Again, safety rather than cost should be your primary concern when buying your paragliding gear.