Wild Pathways

This expedition includes:

  • River Canoeing
  • Cross-Cultural Service Learning
  • Mountain Backpacking

Wild Pathways is unique from other river expeditions with Deer Hill because the group will do a multi-day canoe trek. Participants will paddle Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River in canoes, participate in service-learning on the Navajo Nation, and embark on an epic backpacking trip in the San Juan Mountains.

“I never expected to learn so much in a summer. I’ve grown so much as a person.” – Macala, 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

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, and a canoe practice session in our pond, the group will pack group and personal gear for the first part of their trip.

Canoe The Labyrinth

Days 3-7
The group will depart basecamp and make their way out to the Green River in Utah, where they will launch their canoes and begin paddling downstream. Participants will bond over backcountry meals, swimming, and sleeping under the beautiful Utah sky. On the last day, the group will take out the canoes at Mineral Bottom and swap out paddles for service gear to start the next element of their expedition.

Cross Cultural Learning and Service with the Navajo Nation

Days 8-12
Participants will camp on the property of their service host. During the day, they will learn about Navajo culture while also giving back to the community. Service projects can include repairing fence lines, assisting with painting buildings, or helping to build a shade arbor.

Rejuvenate at Basecamp

Days 12-14
The group will spend a full day at basecamp, where they will shower and prepare for the mountain backpacking section of their expedition. They will have the chance to relax, eat home-cooked meals, and enjoy some of the luxuries of the front country before heading into the San Juan Mountains.

Backpacking in the San Juan Mountains

Days 14-18
Each kid will carry personal gear and divided group gear on their back for the next few days, with the pack getting lighter as the days progress and food is eaten. Participants will enjoy stunning views while hiking through pristine subalpine forests, learn to cook with backcountry stoves and sleep under tarps in the evenings. There will be the opportunity to summit a couple of different peaks over 12,000ft.

Return to Basecamp

Days 18-20
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 14-15*

July 15 – August 3, 2024

20 Days


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 river expedition. At the end of their expedition, the group returns to Basecamp (Days 18-20) 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 only at the beginning and end of the expedition.

Arrival and Departure:

Durango Airport (DRO) or

Deer Hill Basecamp, Mancos, Colorado.

Arrive July 15, 12-6pm; Depart August 3, 8:30am-2pm

Travel Information


This trip has given me a sense of growth (physically and mentally), belonging, and purpose in life. It opened my mind to the endless possibilities of things I could do and the things I have never dreamt of doing.”

Hannah—Participant 2018 Wilderness Leadership

Deer Hill has taught me how to believe in myself….this trip made me feel powerful. My fears are now afraid of me.

Jakhia—Participant 2018 Wilderness Leadership

I feel as if I discover something new about myself every time I come to Deer Hill. I always have fun and return home a better person.

Alex—Participant 2018 Wilderness Leadership & 2017 Southwest Journey

The canyons, the service and the mountains brought new experiences and meaning, yet the mountains provided an environment in which all my lessons and experiences came together. The hikes in the mountains opened my eyes to my own strengths both physically and as a leader, and provided a new appreciation for these activities, journeys and the wilderness. The times in which the instructors recognized my strengths were reassuring and motivating. But also, when the instructors forced you to learn without assistance were more memorable because it pushed me out of my comfort zone into a place where they knew I would succeed despite the obstacles and danger. This is why a leadership course is the most meaningful of all the courses.

Isabelle, participant

I found greatness in learning that adventure includes the known, the unknown, nowhere and the now here.

Erica—Participant 2018 Wilderness Leadership