Rocky Mountain National Park: Backpacking & Climbing - July 20-31
This extended multi-day backpacking trip let’s us get into parts of Rocky Mountain National Park that very few have ever seen. Challenge yourself each day with the physical demands of carrying your supplies on your back. Get contemplative along the shores of lakes left behind in glacier-cut valleys. Relax under the stars with the group while cooking a well-deserved meal at the end of the day. Learn the geology and ecology of RMNP as we hike through montane, subalpine, alpine tundra, and riparian zones with wildlife viewing opportunities around every bend. After getting back to the trailhead, we will shower and transition into multiple days of rock climbing, learning climbing technique and technical skills while base camping. This is a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list trip.
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 14-16, 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.
Rocky Mountain National Park
From the large meadow valleys supporting diverse wildlife to the alpine tundra making up the continental divide to the glaciers carving vast basins, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is one of the most iconic National Parks in the US— and one of the highest too as a third of the park is above treeline. In a short distance you can get a large understanding of the entire Rocky Mountain region.
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