Spring Semester in the Southwest

Credit: Rainbow Weinstock

Spring Semester in the Southwest

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

Explore a living desert and find your inner leader 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 outdoor skills for rivers and mountains that you’ll use for the rest of your life. 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 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.

You’ll learn more than skills for the outdoors. You’ll also dive deep into your leadership style. Every day will have new challenges that will push you to grow and bond with your group. You’ll practice communicating, making hard decisions, and working as a team. When you get home, you’ll be prepared to lead in school and beyond. If you’re ready for a challenge that will prepare you to lead, this is the course for you.

*Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 2018 by exploring one of these wild, free-flowing rivers. This course travels on the Rio Grande, which was one of the original rivers designated by the act in 1968.



2019 Dates

Jan. 20 – April 9, 2019

Tuition: $13,185
Details: Wilderness First Aid, Backpacking, Canoeing, Caving, Rock Climbing, Backpacking


All course information at a glance

Learn about Financial Aid & Scholarships
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
Learn about Academic Credit


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



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What Our Grads Say

“NOLS has helped me become somebody I enjoy being. Completing my NOLS course was one of the best things that I have ever been given the opportunity to do, and I would love to help others achieve similar goals.” 

— Kelly E., NOLS Spring Semester in the Southwest grad

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