Located in the beautiful states of Colorado and Utah, this Semester expedition is 55 days of discovery, leadership, challenge and adventure.
The Colorado Outward Bound School Spring Rockies to Canyon Country Leadership Semester is a 55-day exploration of the canyons and rock spires of some of the most beautiful and geologically stunning landscapes in the entire world. Located in the beautiful states of Colorado and Utah, the Semester is 55 days of discovery.
Learn the technical skills required for the task at hand and life skills that will serve you for years to come. Each day you will get to know your expedition team better, learning about the area and yourself, laughing with your crew mates, and exploring some of North America’s most mesmerizing and famous landscapes. You don’t need to have previous backcountry experience to fully embrace this extraordinary expedition, which combines beautiful environments and exciting activities with an emphasis on teamwork and leadership.
NOTE: For the health and safety of students and staff in the COVID-19 pandemic, students may be required to travel to course start by private transportation. Please work directly with your Course Advisor for your course for the most up-to-date and regionally-focused travel options. All students and staff must provide a current negative COVID-19 viral test result before arrival to course and/or consent to having a COVID-19 test administered at course start. Outward Bound requires students and staff to follow COVID-19 protocols for 14 days prior to course start and while traveling including physical distancing, wearing a mask in public, and frequent and thorough handwashing. For complete “Health and Safety Practices for Outward Bound Expeditions,” click here.
This course is closed for the season.
Most College Savings Plans, including the 529 College Savings Plan, may be used to attend an Outward Bound expedition, thanks to a partnership with Western Colorado University. Anyone can register – you do not have to be a current Western Colorado University student. Registration is easy! Click here to learn more.
Break away from traditional education and make the world your classroom on an Outward Bound Semester expedition. Experience life adventures and expand your skills as you interact with new environments and diverse cultures. Form lasting relationships with outdoor experts and crewmates who are sharing the same successes, failures and discoveries. Strengthen your commitment to community as you participate in service projects that support local needs.
Build skills, form connections: Amidst rugged natural landscapes, learn to lead and to follow; to give and receive feedback; and to trust in your own capabilities as you expand your technical and personal knowledge base. Find connections with your crewmates based on support and respect (and fun too!), and in the thick of challenges, discover there is more in you than you know.
Value strengths and strengthen values: Uncover your unique character strengths, exercise your independence as you gain life experience and learn how to let compassion in to everyday life by pushing your own limits and supporting your crew as you tackle obstacles together, big and small.
Demonstrate mastery: As you gain confidence in new skills and a better understanding of the natural world around you, take on more decision-making responsibilities. Work together to achieve team goals, solve problems and succeed both as independent individuals and as a group.
What you’ll learn: Examine your personal values and discover more about your true self. Hone your technical abilities as you become a master at ropes courses or swiftwater rescue techniques. Numerous certificates are available depending on the course, and up to 18 credit hours can be earned along the way.
Exploring new environments and building new connections will put your tenacity to the test. You’ll return with broader understanding of the natural world around you, deeper appreciation for small kindnesses and greater confidence in yourself and others that will serve you well long after you return.
Outward Bound is accredited with the American Gap Association and is the longest running program in this elite group dedicated to providing safe, meaningful and high-caliber educational experiences to students.
Wilderness First Aid
This introduction to wilderness medicine is geared toward people of all ability levels and is a precursor to additional certifications. In the Wilderness First Aid portion of the course, students learn the Patient Assessment System, how to provide effective first aid treatments for injuries and illnesses common in the outdoors, and how to make appropriate evacuation decisions in varying conditions.
of Peter O'Neil
of Austin Gibney
of Chris Benson
of Peter O'Neil
Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
After winter skills training, students embark on an epic journey: a multi-day tour through the snowy Rockies to summit a high peak. Students navigate through avalanche terrain, melt snow for water, and learn how to thrive in one of the harshest climates on Earth. One of the best parts of a winter expedition is carving a cozy camp out of the snow, complete with tables, benches, and even snow cabinets. Students carry all food and gear in backpacks or pull it on snow sleds. During this section, students learn to assess and adapt to varying snow and weather conditions. Depending on weather and snow conditions, they may have the opportunity to see stunning 360-degree views from a high peak.
A little more than a week of this course is spent on the river learning to master canoe strokes and maneuvers while navigating various obstacles and hazards in the river – all while tuning into and learning the lessons of the river. Participants learn all the skills they need to move safely and efficiently down the river, including an introduction to canoe rescue techniques. As there are only two participants in a canoe, everyone has the opportunity to "captain their watercraft." Participants learn to adapt to the river and desert environments and reset their internal clock to rise with the sun and sleep with the brilliant stars of the Milky Way.
In places, the canyon rims rise hundreds of feet above the river, enclosing participants in a remote world of rushing water, delicate ecosystems and unbelievable beauty. Most courses get the opportunity to take day hikes away from the river and up to the canyon rim. These hikes provide stunning views, a change of pace and often the chance to see historic and Native American archaeological sites, petroglyphs, and jaw-dropping geological formations.
Exploring the canyon environment is done through backpacking, as well as hiking through narrow and picturesque slots. Backpackers carry everything they need – food, shelter, clothing and gear – allowing them to go deep into the wilderness where few people go. Backpackers feel a sense of freedom from deadlines and tasks as they grow accustomed to eating when hungry, setting up camp when tired, and having complete control over what they accomplish each day. The simplicity of hiking gives students the opportunity to focus both internally on their own thoughts and self-reliance, as well as externally to connect deeply with others as they talk, sing, problem solve, and spend time together without distraction.
This course will begin with lessons in basic travel and camping techniques. Along the way, students learn Leave No Trace techniques, map and compass navigation, and camp craft as they get a feel for the human and natural history of the area. Students backpack along canyon rims and through deep canyon bottoms, sometimes shedding their backpacks for smaller daypacks to navigate into jaw-dropping narrows or explore thousand-year-old cliff dwellings and rock art. Crews camp on expansive rock slabs with views of the otherworldly landscapes and stop along the way to explore microclimates and canyon ecosystems. Most importantly, students spend time in an incredible area where modern life has been stripped down to the essentials of travelling through a landscape of rock, sand, sky - feeling the sunshine on their face and watching the sun set as the Milky Way lights up the night sky over this magical landscape.
In order for profound learning to take place, there must be time to reflect on the experience. Solo is that opportunity, and that time can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours or more, depending on the length of the course. Weather and time permitting, Solo provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. Many students use this reflection time to make decisions about their future, journal and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings unencumbered by the constant external stimulation of modern life. The duration of Solo depends on the course length and type, as well as the competency and preparedness of the student group. With all the food, skills and supplies they need, participants are given a secluded spot to reflect alone and are monitored by Instructors at regular intervals, as safety is always a top priority. Students find that Solo provokes profound and powerful learning in a short period of time and often becomes one of the most memorable parts of their Outward Bound experience.
Rocky Mountains, Colorado
The Rocky Mountains, one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world, stretch 3,000 miles from Alaska to New Mexico. These legendary peaks have had a profound influence on the development of the continental United States. The Colorado Rocky Mountains has the greatest concentration of high peaks in the lower 48 states, with hundreds of ‘Thirteeners’ (13,000 plus foot tall mountains) and 54 ‘Fourteeners.’ The state is famous for its abundant wilderness adventure possibilities, from skiing to rock climbing to mountaineering. Colorado courses may take place in The Gore, The Holy Cross, The Sawatch, The Elks, The Sangre de Cristos, the Rawah, or the San Juan mountains. Each of these Colorado ranges present unique challenges, but they are all beautiful, wild and rugged. These regions are within the ancestral lands of of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Cheyenne, Arapaho, Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux), Eastern Shoshone, Jicarilla Apache, and Pueblos nations.
Canyon Country, Utah
The most spectacular aspects of the Utah landscape are the hidden treasures found within its vast canyon networks, formed by millennia of wind and water. The canyons are composed of a spell-binding labyrinth of alcoves, fins, pinnacles, buttes, towering walls, ledges and arches just waiting to be explored on course. Canyoneering courses also venture into narrower, deeper chasms sometimes as narrow as two feet wide with walls rising several hundred feet on each side. These sandstone slot canyons are a geological playground for scrambling, teamwork, and rappelling. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Pueblos, Southern Paiute, Diné, and Hopi nations.
If you are ready to enroll on a course click the enroll button next to the course you wish to select or you can enroll over the phone by speaking with one of our Admissions Advisors (toll-free) at 866-467-7651.
To secure your spot on a course you must submit an enrollment form and $500 deposit that is applied toward the total cost of the course and includes a $150 non-refundable enrollment processing fee.