Join a group of motivated peers ages 23 and up for a unique Western adventure: horsepacking in the rugged mountains of Wyoming. Learn to travel and camp with horses as you explore the glacier-carved Wind River Range or the sweeping plateaus of the Absarokas.
Start out with several days of camping at NOLS Three Peaks Ranch. Build community with your coursemates and work on basic skills like grooming, saddling, and riding horses. Then, pack your panniers and head into the mountains, where you’ll put your new horsepacking skills into practice.
Leave the ordinary behind on the Semester in Patagonia. Climb the mountains and paddle the fjords. Taste the cold wind of the Andes on your face. Breathe in the smell of mate while passing by a poblador’s ranch. On this course, you’ll go mountaineering and sea kayaking in the Andes and coastal regions of Chile and earn an industry-respected Wilderness First Aid certification. You’ll start with the basics and work towards more advanced skills so that you can work toward being totally self-sufficient in the backcountry.
Nestled on the Idaho side of the Tetons, and near Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, our campus is your gateway to some of the best skiing, backpacking, and paddling in the lower 48. NOLS Teton Valley operates year-round and depending on the season, you might hike along the Continental Divide, paddle whitewater rapids, or backcountry ski in the snow-covered Rockies. In the summer and early fall, backpacking courses travel through the meadows of wildflowers in the mountains of western Wyoming, southern Montana, and eastern Idaho. During the warmer months, you can paddle the Salmon River through one of the West’s largest wilderness areas—the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness—and develop your whitewater skills.
The summer I was 19, I went on a thirty day Wind River Wilderness course. It wasn't like I was outdoorsy. I never went to summer camp as a kid. I was in Girl Scouts, but I only lasted until we had to sleep in tents. Then I was out. I was not the kid playing in the dirt.
On a rafting or kayaking course, you’ll learn the skills you need to navigate rivers using these watercraft. You’ll learn how to paddle, read and assess whitewater, knots and rope management, and what it’s like to lead a small group on the river. Depending on your course, you may use a variety of watercraft, including kayaks, paddle rafts, and oar rigs, but every course will give you opportunities to work on different types of challenges, both physical and mental.
On June 8, 1869, John Wesley Powell and his expedition floated down the Green River through the Gates of Lodore—a narrow, towering cleft worn in the deep red rock of what is now western Colorado.
“When you get above the tree line, and you look across and see 360 [degrees of] mountains…It’s the first time where I remember being in awe.” David learns the skills needed to thrive in the backcountry.
“NOLS taught me the secret to great teamwork is great leadership … I learned that leadership isn’t exclusive to those in charge; anybody can demonstrate leadership.”