Southwest Journey

The Absolute Best of the Southwest

Grades 9-11 (ages 15-17) | July 6 – July 30 | 40 Service Hours | 25 days | $4,995*

(Tuition includes charter flight, and all mountain biking equipment)

From the rolling rivers to the silent mountaintop, from dramatic rock faces to the fascinating culture of the Hopi; join us for the Southwest journey of a lifetime.

  • Find the strength to scale a wall of rock
  • Become one with your bike on a multi-day mountain bike expedition
  • Navigate the deep canyons and whitewater of Utah’s spectacular Green River
  • Witness an ancient Hopi ritual high on a desert mesa
  • Take a spectacular plane ride over the Colorado Plateau to your river put-in

Mountain Biking, Hiking and Rock Climbing in the San Juan MountainsBiker

After outfitting and orientation at Deer Hill Basecamp, begin your adventure in the mountains of southwest Colorado near Durango. Establish a comfortable mountain basecamp and then head off to hike a majestic peak with 360-degree views of the rugged Colorado skyline. Enjoy an exhilarating two full days of rock climbing. At your own pace, and under the expert supervision of your guides, get comfortable with ropework, belaying and the techniques of moving on rock before choosing your own route to conquer with the encouragement of your group.

There’s still time for a few more days of action. Take a high-end mountain bike out onto the world-famous Colorado trails and learn to handle it with confidence. Drink in the clean, fresh air as you reach the top of a climb. Relish the adrenaline rush as you point your bike downhill and use your technical skills to “clean” the trail.

Cross-cultural Service in a Hopi Pueblo

Next, our cross-cultural service project takes us to the starkly beautiful Hopi mesas in central Arizona. The Hopi are a fascinating tribe, one of the few who have never been resettled. For this reason, the small villages they inhabit are some of the most ancient settlements in North America. They have a deep spiritual heritage that they maintain through a cycle of prayer rituals and traditional dance ceremonies, many of which we have been privileged to attend. Our Hopi partners welcome Deer Hill groups to their close-knit pueblos. Prepare a ceremonial site for the annual Home Dance, work side by side with Hopi youth to mud a traditional bread oven, help an elderly couple tend their cornfield. When work is done, learn the skills of silversmithing or pottery from a Hopi artist.

Raft the Green River in Utah

Transitioning from our service project, we’ll head to Moab to catch our chartered flight with Red Tail Aviation. We will soar over the Colorado Plateau directly to our put-in on the Green River. Rafting the Green River is a true expedition: 7 days, 85 miles, more than 60 rapids, mysterious Ancestral Puebloan dwellings and perfect cottonwood campsites. This gorge is deeper in places than the Grand Canyon. Float through Desolation and Gray Canyons, whose forbidding names belie their wild beauty. Bighorn sheep, blue heron, cougar and black bear roam this land, once home to Uintah and Ouray Indians, not to mention outlaws looking for a place to hide. With careful guidance from your experienced leaders, test your new-found river skills against rapids that range from Class II (get splashed) to Class III+ (serious fun).¬†Finally, we’ll return to Basecamp for a sweat lodge ceremony and banquet, the traditional way for members of the Deer Hill community to celebrate their time together.

Click here for detailed itinerary

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*Our Special Recreation permit with the US Forest Service requires us to state that $1015 are the gross receipts for the mountain section of this program.

“I had such an amazing time. I don’t think my friends will quite believe me or grasp the immensity of my experience.” Baldwin, Little Rock, AR

“I will always cherish the moments we had with each other, especially during Circle. I’ll never forget the scenery on the river and the laughs we all shared together. The food was amazing. No other camping trip will ever top Deer Hill!” Michael, Ridgewood, NY

“The time with the Hopi people was absolutely inspiring. From building a house, to munching on Hopi tacos, to listening to old native stories around a campfire, it was truly an awesome experience.” Paul, Riverside, CT