Heart of the Rockies

This expedition includes:

  • Mountain backpacking
  • Mountaineering
  • Conservation service project
  • Peak ascents

Spend three weeks backpacking through the aspen and spruce forests to the alpine tundra of the San Juan National Forest. This is a true backcountry immersion expedition during which you’ll learn to navigate some of the most coveted mountain terrain in Colorado.

“My experiences at Deer Hill were life changing because I found myself in the middle of nowhere, but that middle of nowhere was beautiful, stress-free and real.” – Jocelyne, participant


Arrive at Basecamp

Days 1-3
Participants arrive at Basecamp throughout the first afternoon. Their expedition leaders help them become acquainted with Deer Hill, as participants meet each other and the group begins to form. In addition to playing games, and eating home-cooked meals, the group will pack group and personal gear for their trip.

Take the Train to your Drop-off Location

Day 3
Take the Durango Single Gauge Railroad halfway to Silverton, CO and get dropped off deep in the Colorado backcountry.  Starting your trip with this one of a kind experience sets the group up for the adventure of a lifetime!

Backpacking in the Weminuche Wilderness and Conservation Service

Days 3-19

Participants will enter the beautiful Weminuche Wilderness carrying their homes on their backs, sleeping under tarps, cooking on backpacking stoves, and getting to know some of the most pristine backcountry wilderness in the lower 48 states. The group will form close bonds while they hike, camp, and enjoy the trail together.  Halfway through their trek they will be resupplied via wilderness guides on horseback!  Near the end of the expedition they will meet up with the Forest Service to participate in a conservation project.

Return to Basecamp

Days 19-21
Participants return to Basecamp for program closure. The group cleans equipment, returns it to its storage locations at Basecamp, and returns any rental items to the Deer Hill Store. The group holds a closing ceremony to conclude their experience and enjoys a cookout and slideshow on the final evening. On the last day of the program, expedition leaders drive participants to the Durango airport to return home.

Ages 15-17*

July 11 – July 31, 2024

21 Days

12 Service Hours


Scholarship Information

*For questions about age or grade level, call us at 970.533.7492.

Start and End at Basecamp

The expedition is bookended with time at Deer Hill’s Basecamp in Mancos, CO. From Days 1 to 3, participants get to know each other as they pack group and personal gear for their time in the mountains. At the end of their expedition, the group returns to Basecamp (Days 19-21) for hot showers and home-cooked meals. The final full day will include a closing ceremony and celebration with a cookout and slideshow.

The group is resupplied by a horse packer mid-program. The group is at Basecamp only at the beginning and end of the expedition.

Arrival and Departure:

Durango Airport (DRO) or

Deer Hill Basecamp, Mancos, Colorado.

Arrive July 11, 12-6pm; Depart July 31, 8:30am-2pm

Travel Information


It was an unbelievable experience that changed me. I learned to appreciate the wilderness and disconnect from technology.

Marilyn—Participant 2018 Heart of the Rockies

The experience was life-changing. I discovered a new sense of self out in the wilderness.

Assatta—Participant 2018 Heart of the Rockies

Deer Hill Expeditions gave me the opportunity to connect to the wilderness, learn and experience unique things, and be part of a family.

Alice—Participant 2018 Heart of the Rockies

This was life-changing. On day one, I was surrounded by strangers, but on day twenty-one, I was surrounded by family.

Felix—Participant 2018 Heart of the Rockies

This was an adventure that allowed me to hike and test my mental and physical boundaries and push them.

Tae—Participant 2018 Heart of the Rockies

It was the greatest experience of my life so far. It helped me learn a lot of skills. I loved meeting new people. I loved being in nature and living with it and learning to respect it. I will cherish the beauty of the mountains.

Margaret, participant