Southwest Winter Break Expedition


21 days


17+ yrs



Stay tuned for dates

Level up your outdoor skills  with a backpacking adventure in Southeastern Arizona.

Leave the day to day behind for 3 weeks in an Arizona wilderness area comprised of an intact sky island ecosystem. This course offers opportunities for you to develop interpersonal, leadership, and outdoor skills you can use for a lifetime of adventuring.

You'll receive hands-on mentorship from dedicated instructors as you work through the basics of backpacking. You’ll start by focusing on basic outdoor living skills, like cooking, camping, navigating on and off-trail and building an inclusive community with your coursemates. As the course, and your competence advance, you and your course mates will gain more and more independence. With the skills from this course, you’ll be able to explore forests of ponderosa pine, striking mesas, and riparian canyons that characterize this part of the Southwest. They’ll also set you up for planning future backpacking trips of your own.

Woven into these outdoor skills is your progression through NOLS’ recognized leadership curriculum. Though some topics will be taught in sit-down classes, most learning will come from your daily experiences. Living and traveling in the wilderness will teach teamwork and resilience, while completing a challenging hiking day will offer chances to grow in communication and grit. As the course progresses, you’ll learn about the area’s wildlife and geology, gain insight into its history, and appreciate living simply. If you’re ready for a challenge that will prepare you to lead, this is the course for you.


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