Gunnison River, Colorado: Canoeing & Hiking - June 22-27

Summer Expedition

“The first river you paddle runs through the rest of your life,” and the Gunnison River is primed for the task. This expedition starts at the KSS campus where we will get to know each other, lay out the plans, and pack gear for the journey before heading west to make camp for the night. The following three days, we will explore Southwestern Colorado by canoe while taking occasional day hikes, and cooking and sleeping each night on the sandy banks of the Gunnison River. We will conclude our expedition with a waterfall hike, relaxing hot springs, and closing celebration.

While paddling canoes is less physically demanding thank backpacking, the Gunnison River provides a unique backcountry camping experience. The environment of this expedition may prove challenging with unforeseen inclement weather and pesky insects.

Students with any experience level, aged 12-13, will find growth and challenge in this program. The duration and focus on traveling in the backcountry provides an opportunity to be exposed to foundational outdoor living skills while learning how leadership can be applied to their life beyond this expedition. Mentorship is an important aspect of an expedition. Every student will be provided individual coaching to further their skills.


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Gunnison River, Colorado

From the headwaters along the Continental Divide the Gunnison River runs for 180 miles through the mountains and Black Canyon, one of the longest and deepest gorges in the world. A number of dams along the river provide hydroelectric power to surrounding communities. It is the largest tributary of the Colorado River.

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Canoeing involves sitting upright in a narrow open boat while navigating the water with a single ore. We will learn to interpret the river current, practice paddling skills and beach our craft to explore secluded wilderness areas inaccessible by other means. One can’t help but feel like an explorer while drifting down the river, gazing upon wildlife, and basking in the sounds and smells of the nature around us.



Hiking on trail presents the perfect opportunity to slowly and quietly take in the beauty and wonder of our natural environment. Along the way, we will focus on map reading and compass skills, hiking etiquette, and leave no trace principles. We might stop to observe wildlife, or look closely at the different rock types— around every bend of the trail is a new vista, a new memory, and a new learning opportunity. Take one step at a time—a valuable life lesson—as each trail presents its own unique challenges to overcome.

Arrival & Departure Options

KSS Drop-off and Pick-Up
  • Drop Off: 10am
  • Pick Up: 1pm (Expedition Farewell)
  • Directions
Morrison Drop-off and Pick-Up

Meet Keystone Science School counselors at the T-Rex Park and Ride in Morrison. Be sure to select the Morrison Drop-Off and Pick-Up within the registration options.

  • Fee: $45 (Each Way)
  • Drop Off: 10:00am-10:30am
  • Pick Up: 1pm-1:30pm
  • Directions
DEN Airport Arrival and Departure

Travel by plane to Denver International Airport. We’ll be sure they are greeted by a KSS Counselor when they get off the plane. We send our counselors behind the TSA security checkpoints to greet each child directly at the airline gate. Be sure to check the arrival or departure option within the registration and book your camper’s travel to arrive and depart within the specified time windows.

  • Fee: $80 (Each Way)
  • Arrival: DEN between 7:00am-9:00am
  • Departure: DEN between 2:00pm-4:00pm

Keystone Science School is American Camp Association Accredited

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