Southwest Journey

This expedition includes:

  • Mountain backpacking
  • Rock climbing
  • Peak ascents
  • Native American service project
  • Rafting
  • Inflatable kayaking

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

Your Journey Begins Here Apply

Arrive at Basecamp

Days 1-2
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

Days 3-9
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 over 60 rapids through a deep wilderness of sandstone canyons whose wall reaches up 5000 feet to its unseen rim.

Service in Hopi Pueblo

Days 9-15
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

Days 16-20
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

Days 20-22
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.

Ages 15-17*

July 5 – July 26, 2018

22 Days

40 Service Hours

*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 20-22) 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 July 5, 12-6pm; Depart July 26, 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