This expedition includes:
- Mountain Backpacking
- Rock Climbing
- Peak ascents
- Inflatable kayaking
- Cross-Cultural service project*
Southwest Journey takes you deep into the heart of the Southwest. You’ll fly in a chartered plane to the river launch where you’ll raft through some of the most pristine country in the lower 48 states on the ‘Deso-Gray’ stretch of the Green River. After navigating over 60 rapids and exploring the canyon on hikes, your group heads to Hopi Pueblo to live and work with this community in the “oldest continually inhabited city” in the United States. Your journey wraps up with a few days of hiking and rock climbing in Colorado’s most coveted mountains.
“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
*Due to COVID, there is a degree of uncertainty that we take on as we plan for our programs to visit Native American communities in the coming year. The safety of our participants as well as our Native partners is paramount. If we have to cancel the Native American service portion of our programs and switch to conservation service or some other form of service, we will let you know as soon as possible about this change.
Arrive at Basecamp
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 begin to pack group and personal gear for the first part of their trip.
Green River ‘Deso-Gray’ Rafting Expedition
All prepped and packed, the group departs Deer Hill Basecamp on Day 2 for the scenic flight over the canyon wilderness of the Colorado Plateau between Moab, UT and the launch site for the Desolation – Gray Canyons section of the Green River. The group will float 84 miles through a deep wilderness of sandstone canyons whose wall reaches up 5000 feet to its unseen rim. With over 60 rapids to navigate, participants have the opportunity to learn how to read the river, find a safe route, and paddle through it.
Service in Hopi Pueblo
Participants live and work with their Hopi hosts near the oldest continually inhabited town in North America. The Plaza is the center of community life on the Hopi reservation, and has been for many hundreds of years. Participants often help community members plaster and whitewash the Plaza buildings in preparation for community ceremonies, and sometimes have the opportunity to watch these events. Several Hopi hosts that work with Deer Hill are artists who are willing to share their craft with participants in addition to other aspects of their cultural traditions. On Day 14, the group returns to Basecamp for the transition to the mountain section.
Mountain Climbing Camp
Participants backpack a few miles into the subalpine meadows and forests of the San Juan Mountains to set up a mountain basecamp. From here, the group will explore the area on day hikes, and also set up a top rope along a granite wall for a couple days of rock climbing, learning to safely belay and rappel, in addition to learning essential climbing techniques.
Return to Basecamp
Participants return to Basecamp for program closure. The group cleans equipment and 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.
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 river expedition. 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 at Basecamp at the beginning and end of the expedition, and for the transition between the service and mountain sections.
I love Deer Hill because it gives everyone a chance to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It makes us step out of our comfort zones to work with new people, to face the wilderness and to be on our own for three weeksRay—Participant 2018 Southwest Journey
Deer Hill Expeditions is the perfect opportunity for each individual to unpack who they are and then discover new ways to strengthen their image as a whole. It’s a place where we are able to see how we are all different puzzle pieces of different colors, shapes and parts of a whole. In the wilderness we learned how to really come together as a group.Ella—Participant 2018 Southwest Journey
The experience Deer Hill provides is like no other, rafting the river for seven days, living at the Hopi Pueblo for six and then adventuring in the mountains for five! It is an experience I’ll never forgetJake—Participant Soutwest Journey
Other summer expeditions may have rafting or backpacking but nothing could compare to Deer Hill. This place has such a strong sense of community and acceptance.Corinne—Participant, 2018 Southwest Journey
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