Spend a semester exploring the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Greater Canyonlands of Utah, and vast deserts of Arizona. You’ll go into great depth to advance your backcountry wilderness skills while studying pressing environmental issues and participating in real-world conservation service work

Program Highlights

  • Travel through Colorado’s highest peaks, the canyons of Utah, and expansive deserts of Arizona.
  • Learn and practice backpacking, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting skills.
  • Learn to comfortably live and travel in the wilderness destinations for extended periods of time.
  • Investigate pressing conservation issues in the US public land management system while working with service partners to protect and restore these wild places.
  • Plan and execute a student-led expedition in the labyrinthine canyons of Utah.
  • Become part of an incredible community dedicated to personal growth, outdoor exploration, and adventure.

Program Overview

In the fall semester we begin with a rugged two-week backpacking trip deep in the Rocky Mountains.

Along the way, the group may do several days of service work and summit one of the 14,000-foot peaks that form the skyline of their route. Additional activities will emphasize building a strong community, discussing the value of wilderness, and reflecting on effective leadership.

Your next month will be spent in the greater canyonlands of Utah. First, you’ll basecamp near Moab, Utah, a mecca of outdoor recreation surrounded by National Parks and other worldy landscapes. Here, you’ll split your time learning to climb on the sweeping sandstone walls that are iconic of the area  and working on a service project to maintain and restore this fragile desert landscape.

The next section of your semester will be spent on a two-week technical canyons expedition in the White Canyon and Dark Canyon complex. Set within the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument, this area is known for the vast labyrinth of deep slot canyons and wide open mesas along with a rich cultural history. You’ll also do a backcountry service project with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. 

Launching from the Diamond Down boat ramp you will begin a 5 day boat trip down one of the most iconic stretches of river in the world. During this time, you’ll study the history of public land management in the West and how the Grand Canyon stands as an excellent case study of conservation,  recreation, and tribal lands in the United States.

In the final section of your semester you will build on the skills you’ve gained from previous rock climbing and backpacking sections to gain further independence in both of these pursuits. You will get to hone your sport climbing skills in the excellent limestone climbing nearby St.George, Utah. After the climbing expedition you will work with your group to plan a student-led expedition. This culminating expedition is a unique opportunity for your group to choose an itinerary and course area for yourself. With guidance from your instructors, you will plan the locations you’d like to climb or backpack in and create the necessary routes and logistics for a succesful, rewarding and challenging culminating experience. You’ll also complete a 24-36 hour solo during this time and conclude the course with several final reflection projects that you share with the group.


  • September 21st-December 9th, 2022  Applications will open in November 2021