Historically, visitors' motives for visiting protected areas included 'rest, relaxation and reinvigoration'. Ecological impacts were typically low. Recent trends have increased use of protected areas for extreme sports, with greater numbers undertaking more active recreation, such as extreme sports. The effect of this trend is considered, together with potential management options. We propose that the development of appropriately targeted and delivered educational programmes could minimise environmental degradation. However, to maximise ecological conservation in protected lands we consider that a major paradigm shift is required. This will require a more strategic, holistic approach to planning and managing outdoor recreation/sport destinations incorporating collaboration across stakeholders. Based on past experience, to continue with the current model will ultimately accelerate biodiversity loss, degradation of protected areas, and loss of recreational amenity.