Five course participants walking back to camp after a day of climbing.
Camera Matt Hage

Southwest Instructor Course


24 days


21+ yrs



Stay tuned for dates


Note: Application deadline for this course is December 3 2021

Please contact training[at] with any questions you might have.

This 24-day instructor course combines foundational leadership training with a 19-day backpacking expedition in the Gila Wilderness. You and your coursemates will travel using traditional backpacking techniques in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness—America’s first designated Wilderness area. Your Southwest Instructor Course will build on the outdoor and education experience you already have, while allowing you to fine-tune your teaching and leadership skills. Successful completion of this instructor course will prepare you to work wilderness backpacking courses for NOLS.

Please refer to the FAQs to learn more about instructor courses.

Here is a sample of the instructor course questionnaire.

Additional Details

Prerequisite: Minimum of a 70-hour Wilderness First Responder and current adult CPR certification

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Course Dates

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Course participants sitting in a semi circle and chatting next to their tents.

The NOLS experience—at least for me—crystallizes one universal truth about leadership: that the essential criterion for leadership is uncertainty. It is in these situations where true leadership is defined. NOLS empowers us to embrace uncertainty, to overcome obstacles and to see opportunity through challenge. NOLS reminds us to explore, to be curious and creative in our thinking and problem solving. NOLS highlights the value of mindfulness, reflection, and adaptability. NOLS reinforces the importance of compassion and empathy and reminds us that we are all is this together.

Joe O. NOLS Southwest Instructors Course grad