teen in colorado celebrating summer camp

Southwest Discovery

This expedition includes:

  • Basecamp Adventures
  • Rafting
  • Mountain Camping and Hiking

Southwest Discovery provides your child with an entry-level experience of the beauty and wonder of the natural world and promotes the foundation for self-discovery and community building. This course is designed to be a fun and engaging two-week experience which includes floating the Upper San Juan River in Utah, going on the Crow Canyon Archeology Tour, and spending time at the beautiful High Camp Hut near the Lizard Head Wilderness in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado.

“I learned so much more here than I ever thought I would. I’m always going to remember the great times and great friends I’ve made – I’ve never been so close to people.” – Georgeanne, participant.


Your Journey Begins Here Apply

Arrive at Basecamp: Days 1-4

Participants arrive at Basecamp throughout the afternoon of Day 1. Our field staff help them become acquainted with Deer Hill, and participants meet each other as the group begins to form. In addition to playing games, and eating home-cooked meals, the group will pack and organize gear for their trip. Participants will take a day trip from our basecamp to visit Crow Canyon Archeology center, participating in hands on activities with real life archeologists!

Ruby-Horsethief River Expedition: Days 4-7

All prepped and packed, the group departs Deer Hill’s Basecamp on Day 4 to launch on the Colorado River. They will spend their days on the river, rafting class I and II rapids through the deep and sinuous sandstone canyons, exploring side channels, and hiking to overlook points high up the canyon walls. Participants learn how to paddle together on a paddle raft guided by our Field Staff and those who are feeling extra adventurous can try their skills at paddling an inflatable kayak with a fellow participant. After each day of rafting, the group makes camp on a sandy beach, along the banks of the Colorado River, where they will set up camp, prepare dinner, and enjoy the scenery.

High Camp Hut: Days 7-10

After taking off the river on Day 7, participants will travel to the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado to High Camp Hut for four days of camping, hiking, and fun in the alpine!  High Camp Hut is located in a beautiful alpine meadow on the doorstep of the stunning Lizard Head Wilderness Area. High Camp Hut is outfitted with a full kitchen, living room and dining room, composting toilets, and sleeping quarters.

Return to Basecamp: Days 10-12

Participants return to Basecamp for program closure. The group uses the skills that they have learned throughout the program to help clean and put the gear away when they return to basecamp.  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, participants are picked up at our Basecamp or driven to the Durango airport to return home.

Ages 11-12*

June 26 – July 7

12 Days


*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 the first day, participants get to know each other as they pack group and personal gear for their river expedition. At the end of their high camp hut experience, the group returns to Basecamp 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 at Basecamp at the beginning and end of the expedition, and for the transition between the service and mountain sections.

Arrival and Departure:

Durango Airport (DRO) or 

Deer Hill Basecamp, Mancos, Colorado.

Arrive June 26, 12-6pm; Depart July 7, 8:30am-2pm

Travel Information


My Deer Hill experience was probably the greatest thing I have ever done. I extended my family to 15 new people, who I’m closer to than anybody I’ve met. I’ll remember and carry the whole experience for the rest of my life.

Rafael, participant