On this 30 Day Pathfinder Joshua Tree Backpacking & Rock Climbing expedition, you’ll experience what has enchanted so many in this vast and beautiful landscape.
Joshua Tree has drawn artists, musicians, outdoor aficionados and soul seekers to its fantastically jumbled rock creations and magical dark skies for decades. With the desert as your classroom, you’ll develop technical outdoor skills and interpersonal skills like effective communication, self-awareness and resiliency. Pathfinder courses make space for reflection without the noise of everyday life. You’ll navigate your future path and depart with a clarified sense of identity and direction for life after course.
For detailed information on course availability statuses and what they mean,
Thank you for your interest in Outward Bound!
This course starts within the next week. Please call us at 866-467-7651 to assess the possibility of applying for this course!
APPLY NOW This means a course has several open spots and is actively processing applications.
APPLY NOW – Almost Full This means there are three or fewer currently available spots left on a course. To secure your spot click Apply Now to begin an application!
JOIN WAITLIST Once a course has reached capacity, three waitlist positions become available. To join a course’s waitlist, click “Join Waitlist” to begin the application process. A $500 deposit is required. This $500 deposit includes a $150 non-refundable application fee and a $350 tuition payment. The $350 tuition payment is refundable only if you cancel your waitlist application or if an open position does not become available. If a position does become available, the applicant will be applied to the open position and the Application and Cancellation Policies of the Regional Outward Bound School will be followed, including forfeiture of the $500 deposit if you cancel 90 days or less prior to the course start date.
Waitlist applicants are encouraged to complete all required admissions documents while awaiting an open position. Positions may become available up to two weeks prior to the course start date. Applicants may only apply to one course. We recommend applying to a course with open positions instead of a course that is accepting waitlist applications. If you have questions, please call 866-467-7651 to speak with one of our Admissions Advisors.
CALL TO APPLY This means a course is very close to its start date. Although it is unlikely to secure a spot this late, you can call the National Admissions office at 866-467-7651 to discuss your options.
COURSE IS FULL When a course has reached maximum capacity, meaning all spots and the three waitlist spots are occupied, a course will read “Course Is Full.” This means applications are no longer being accepted.
CLOSED As a course nears its start date, the availability status may read “Closed.” In this event, a course roster has been finalized and applications are no longer being accepted or processed.
Backpacking expedition: Introductory lessons to backpacking, camp craft, and navigation
Transition to rock section
Rock climbing section (climbing, belaying, rappelling)
Sometimes the noise of daily life makes it difficult to know what we really want, to set clear goals for ourselves, and to forge a path forward. Here’s your reset button. Our Pathfinder expeditions are designed to support students in increasing self-knowledge and awareness, improving goal-setting and decision-making processes, and developing perseverance and self-efficacy. As in the field, so in life: challenge yourself to dream big, then identify your steps to get there and start moving. We’ll put the map in your hands. You chart your path.
Build skills, form connections: Learn and practice wilderness, teamwork, adaptability and leadership skills. Participants will have the opportunity to chart a path and pursue it with their own motivation as extra fuel.
Value strengths and strengthen values: Resiliency to recover from set-backs is a treasured and useful skill that will play a part in any Pathfinder expedition. Participants will explore answers to their most pressing questions about what they value, where their strengths lie and what direction their lives will take next.
Demonstrate mastery: As students gain confidence in new skills, they will take on more leadership and decision-making responsibilities and gain a deeper understanding of who they are as individuals. The entire crew will work together and individually to achieve goals, solve problems and succeed.
What you’ll learn: After spending 30 days in the wilderness, you’ll have mastered multiple outdoor skills and you’ll know what it takes to traverse mountain passes, climb the steepest cliffs and successfully navigate the challenges of the natural world around you. You’ll discover more about your true self and what you want to achieve, how you overcome setbacks and, most importantly, how to move forward to reach important milestones.
Return home after broadening your horizons, learning how to adapt to new environments and trying untested possibilities, with an action plan for the future. With newfound leadership potential, self-awareness, and problem-solving skills, you’ll be ready for your next big step.
Backpackers carry everything they need - food, shelter, clothing and gear – allowing them to spend more time in the backcountry and venture into less visited places. This desert backpacking course includes both on-trail and off-trail terrain. The trails, when present, are usually of high quality. The off-trail routes can be especially challenging as these routes travel through boulder filled canyons across vast desert plains. Joshua Tree is a high desert, with areas of the park over 5,000 feet. This landscape provides an opportunity for a pre-dawn start to a peak attempt.
As water is scarce to come by naturally in the desert, staff will resupply food and water along the way at different water cache sites designated by Outward Bound California and the National Park. Though the landscape is demanding, there are few places in the world that compare to the beauty and uniqueness of where this backpacking leads.
The rock climbing section provides an introduction to personal climbing skills while building trust among crew members as they belay one another and set goals as a group. Groups will set up a backcountry “basecamp” as students explore the canyons and wander through unique rock formations looking for the next climbing area.
Students will acquire and build skills associated with technical rock climbing, including introductory rock climbing basics, knots, movement over rock, top-rope belaying, equipment use and care of harnesses and other items. This section will include a variety of styles including crack-climbing and face climbing. Participants will climb some of the highest quality granite in one of the most popular world destinations for rock climbers.
Service is an integral part of the Outward Bound Pathfinder curriculum. We encourage service to the environment in the form of leaving campsites cleaner than we find them and practicing Leave No Trace ethics throughout the course. We coordinate service projects with land managers (Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, local land trusts, etc). One full day will be dedicated to service on this course.
The solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition. With sufficient food and equipment you’ll spend time alone at an assigned campsite to rest, reflect, and practice the camp craft skills you have been learning throughout the course. We choose your solo site to offer as much solitude as possible, but within earshot of Instructors for safety considerations. You will not travel during this time and your instructors will check on you periodically. Many students are initially nervous about solo but most are ready for a break from the group when the time for solo arrives. This activity may be abbreviated or eliminated as instructors assess the weather, terrain, or other factors that could affect the outcomes of solo. For this program, a solo progression is structured into course. For example, you may start with a solo lasting only a few hours and culminate with a full 3-day solo towards the end of your course. Many of our past students express this was one of the most powerful elements to their course.
Outward Bound courses vary in length from four (4) to 85 days. On shorter courses, participants will receive an introduction to leadership skills, strength of character and a desire to serve while activities fill most of the time and the pace is quick. With longer courses, the same outcomes and benefits are achieved with the opportunity to reach a more profound level of mastery as there are more chances to develop technical skills, receive and implement feedback and further personal development. However many days the expedition lasts, the strength and impact of the experience lasts a lifetime.
Welcome to the high desert moonscape, where rugged mountains and desert plateaus have been sculpted by wind and rain. Three distinct ecosystems come together to form this land of extremes: the dark, cold, star-filled nights against warm sand and boulder-filled days. Participants will travel through granite monoliths and through narrow canyons.
The Mojave Desert’s winter weather is perfect for a week on the trail or basecamping below the next climb. Weather in the park is generally dry, cold and rainfall is sparse, though unpredictable, and sometimes persistent thunderstorms do occur. Temperatures vary, with lows around 40 and highs around 70 degrees, to a much colder temp of 30 degrees at night and potentially hitting 100 early or late in the season.
These regions are the ancestral lands of the Yuhaviatam/Maarenga’yam (Serrano), Cahuilla, Newe (Western Shoshone), Chemehuevi, Southern Paiute and Cocopah (Xawiƚƚ kwñchawaay) nations. We acknowledge them as the past, present, and future caretakers of this land, and also pay respect to their elders, both past and present. We recognize and continually support and advocate for the sovereignty of the Native nations of this territory and beyond. By offering this land acknowledgment we affirm tribal sovereignty, commit to working to support these tribes, and commit to holding Outward Bound California accountable to this work.
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.