Fall Semester in the Southwest

Credit: Ashley Wise

Fall Semester in the Southwest

Grow as a leader in the desert’s canyons and rivers

Explore a living desert and find your leadership style on the Semester in the Southwest. Discover a desert that’s alive with coyote and javelina, mesquite and cactus. On this course, you’ll learn the outdoor skills to explore rivers and mountains. Follow the Rio Grande through steep, red sandstone canyons and wander ponderosa pine forests. Climb rocks warmed by the sun and explore the paths of underground caves. You might explore the cliff dwellings of ancient indigenous cultures or fall asleep listening to coyotes howl. Whether you know a lot or a little about the outdoors, you’ll find challenges on this course that will push your limits and help you grow.

And this course is about more than outdoor skills. You’ll also dive deep into your leadership style. Every day will have new challenges that will push you to grow. Navigating a challenging route becomes a lesson in decision making. Setting goals for a climbing route becomes an opportunity for self-leadership. Living in a small community presents opportunities to practice communication and responsibility. If you’re ready for a challenge that will prepare you to lead, this is the course for you.

*This course travels on the Rio Grande, which is one of the original rivers protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.



2020 Dates

Sept. 11 – Nov. 29, 2020

Tuition: $13,740
Details: Backpacking, Canoeing, Caving, Wilderness First Aid, Rock Climbing, Backpacking


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Equipment Deposit



80 days

Minimum Age

17 yrs.

Academic Credit

16 College Credits
  • 3 Risk Assessment
  • 6 Skills Practicum
  • 4 Leadership Techniques
  • 3 Environmental Studies

2 High School Credits

  • 1.00 Leadership
  • 1.00 Physical Education
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Leave No Trace - Trainer

Wilderness First Aid


Course Description

Equipment List

Travel and Logistics


Tucson, Arizona

Fly in/out

Tucson, Arizona

Skills learned




Rock Climbing

Wilderness Medicine

Additional Details

Semester Scholarship Form

Essential Eligibility Criteria


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What Our Grads Say

“I can honestly say my NOLS course taught me how wonderful life is. I believe I learned how to make myself happy. Away from technology, social norms, and societal restrictions I felt free, and excited for life at all times. That is a feeling that I will never forget and one that I will continue to strive for throughout my life. I felt happiness in the truest most wholesome form on my trip. I truly believe that my NOLS course was the turning point in my life, and I emerged from it a better person in every way.” 

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