Deer Hill Gap Year

Late Summer 2022

Authentic Learning, Immersive Connection

Deer Hill created the Gap Year to allow participants to be fully immersed in the Southwest landscapes by discovering the mountains, canyons, rivers and people who call this place home. The 70 day program deepens on historic Deer Hill programming by combining service learning, wilderness exploration, and group living with curated lessons that integrate multiple themes and perspectives into a critical examination of the American West. Participants will learn how geology, topography, geomorphology, and climate have shaped the region’s history and contemporary public policy. Participants will gain skills, certifications, and credits for prior learning during the program. Students who come on the Gap Year need to be prepared to engage in course curriculum in a mature and motivated manner. Attendance, attention, participation, and cooperation are essential to student success.







Program Overview




TBD Summer/Fall 2022
70 Days

Community Service Credit:

116 Service Hours

 Tuition Cost:

Scholarship Information


Mountaineering, Mountain Backpacking, Whitewater Rafting, Canyoneering, Canyon Backpacking, Leadership Education, and Service Learning

Certifications Earned on the Program:

Wilderness First Aid Certification (WFA), Leave No Trace, and Utah River Guide License

States Visited:

Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona

View Sample Itinerary







Course Objectives

  1. Explore maps and understand the limitations of these and other tools of geography.
  2. Identify topsoil systems including microbiology, and taxonomy.
  3. Explore the geologic timetable in relative terms.
  4. Understand the three primary classes of rock: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.
  5. Understand and convey the structure of the Earth.
  6. Define and identify distinctions between erosion, mass wasting, and weathering.
  7. Explore the various processes that help curate landforms.
  8. Define groundwater and explore how water in the west is managed.
  9. Explore the major concepts and trends in the History of the American West while examining the historical events, movements, and characters that have shaped them.
  10. Examine the racial and cultural diversity of the West and how this has shaped American culture.
  11. Explore the validity of primary and secondary sources.
  12. Begin to think critically about historical narratives, and interpretation.
  13. Analyze and interpret stereotypes of the “Wild West” in pop-culture.

This Gap Semester aligns with Colorado Guaranteed Transfer Pathways college courses; Physical Geography (GEO110) and History of the American West (HIS235). Upon completion, participants can apply for Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) through a college of their choice.

Irrigation gardening in Zuni Pueblo







Travel Information

Arrival and Departure:

Durango Airport (DRO) or

Deer Hill Basecamp, Mancos, Colorado.

Travel Information

Questions? Call our office! We’d love to be a resource for you in the planning process.



Deer Hill's Basecamp in Mancos, CO provides an idyllic setting for groups.

At Deer Hill, I didn’t make friends—I made life-long members of my amazing, fun Deer Hill family.

Shea, Participant 2018 River and Mountain Adventure

Deer Hill made me change my whole view of nature.

Kyler—Participant 2018 River and Mountain Adventure

Deer Hill is an amazing place to learn, to be in the wild, to have fun and to make friends. I love Deer Hill!!!

Jasper— Participant 2018 River and Mountain Adventure

Receiving an experience this insanely incredible makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world.

Teddy—Participant 2018 River and Mountain Adventure

Deer Hill held within it a one-of-a-kind experience which will stick with me forever

Lila—Participant 2018 River and Mountain Adventure

The experience was so different than anything that I am used to, and I loved it!

Bella—Participant 2018 River and Mountain Adventure

Deer Hill gave me lots of new experiences and lessons. Most were breathtaking; some were funny; all were amazing.

Charles—Participant 2018 River and Mountain Adventure

Deer Hill is an amazing and unique experience that you can't find anywhere else.

Alden—Participant 2018 River and Mountain Adventure



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