Canyon Country: Backpacking & Climbing - June 8-19
The smell of sage and sand, the red rock sandstone, and views of the night sky that include the towering canyon walls make this a unique and special expedition. After an orientation on the KSS campus, we will head out for a multi-day backpack. We will learn the difficult task of navigation in canyon country as we hone map & compass, and route-finding skills, and learn about the cultural and natural history of this high desert region. After a much deserved (and needed) shower, we will transition into multiple days of rock climbing where we focus on climbing technique, knot tying, belaying and other technical climbing skills.
The environment of this expedition may prove demanding with exposure to weather and off-trail travel. We encourage students to come with a foundational fitness level to carry a backpack, weighing around 45 pounds, over uneven terrain for multiple hours.
Students with any experience level, aged 15-17, will find growth and challenge in this program. The duration and focus on backpacking provides an opportunity to develop competency with camping and traveling in the wilderness, while learning transferable leadership skills. Mentorship is an important aspect of an expedition. Every student will be provided individual coaching to further their skills.
The Colorado Plateau— which includes the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park and many of the iconic desert landscapes of the US— actually begins on the Western Slope of Colorado where we set our canyon country adventures. We will explore the less trodden paths, hidden winding canyons, and Anasazi rock art and ruins. Breath in the smell of sage and sand, hear the echoing song of the canyon wren, feel the prehistoric past of the red rock sandstone, and gaze on the geologic marvels of arches and natural bridges. There is something mystical and certainly unforgettable when you spend time in the canyons.
Backpacking involves carrying everything needed on your back— including clothes, tent & sleeping bag, and food-- to thrive for multiple days in the wilderness. The challenge is felt literally on your shoulders, while the reward of cooking in the backcountry with your friends, sleeping in your tent with the sounds of nature, and getting away from modern amenities is immeasurable. Learn packing technique, navigation skills, and backcountry cooking. The wilderness produces unique opportunities for leadership development. Whether it’s managing the group’s navigation, taking initiative helping someone with the weight of their pack, or helping to cut vegetables for the night’s meal, the social skills we develop on the trail transfer to school, sports, and future careers.
Rock climbing is the art or moving up or along natural rock formations with the use of specialized gear— like sticky-rubber climbing shoes, harnesses, ropes, and anchors. It’s can be both physically and mentally demanding as it requires both endurance and agility to overcome the obstacles and puzzles that the climbing path presents. A rock climber is tethered through an anchor to a belayer— someone who is holding taut the other end of the rope. With safety systems in place, rock climbing is a fun and rewarding sport that is as difficult as you want it to be, and as safe as any other outdoor activity.
Arrival & Departure Options
KSS Drop-off and Pick-Up
- Drop Off: 10am
- Pick Up: 1pm (Expedition Farewell)
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
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