Old-Utah Canyoneering


This venture is a full seven days of challenging adventures based in experiential education. You will backpack through the canyons of the Colorado Plateau in southern Utah, developing backcountry skills and leadership, deepening relationships with your fellow classmates, pushing yourself physically and mentally while having fun.

The use of ropes, anchor systems, rappels, hands, feet, shoulders, elbows, hips, thighs, backsides, pack passes and often someone else’s support to move and navigate through slot canyons.

Wandering around in the desert is an incredible adventure and canyoneering is a technical sport with potential for serious consequences. It requires considerable improvisation and judgment. Rappels are often done using improvised anchors – trees, jammed rocks, stuck logs, and chunks of rock. And, they can be awkward – wet, through narrow slots, often muddy, with challenging starts, with a pack on, into a pool, and often with problems pulling the ropes. And, rope retrieval is essential for continued travel and exploration.

This particular route was chosen due to its remoteness, opportunity for solitude, technical challenge, and promise of sustained interest in the form of canyon narrows, scrambling, and technical canyoneering (using rope systems for rappelling, etc.) and we use it to train NASA crews.


Activities and Risks

The climate can be dynamic and challenging this time of year. Days can vary from warm, sunny, and dry to cold and wet. Identifying and managing hazards – which could be falling rock, stormy weather, or steep terrain – will be a constant theme in our instruction. Throughout your course, you’ll be miles from the amenities of civilization. Telephones, ambulances, and hospitals may be several days away. Managing risks and assuming responsibility for yourself and your class mates will help make your expedition in this wild place healthy and fun.

NOLS teaches wilderness visitors to practice responsible habits that promote the health and well being of self and others. Each participant is expected to:

  • Demonstrate a developing knowledge of the hazards in a canyon environment and recognize their limitations.
  • Describe and consistently perform specific techniques to reduce or avoid hazards.
  • Develop experience and judgment to implement sound decisions and follow them through to completion.
  • Display sound judgment and an awareness of group and self-limits


Focus on a well-rounded routine that emphasizes stamina, endurance, flexibility, and strength. Finally, don’t ignore the need for balance; this will serve you well in the uneven and steep canyon terrain allowing you to dance, rather than stumble, your way through. Your ability to participate and enjoy activities will depend on your physical condition.



Costs and Equipment

The land cost for this venture is $3600.


Key Information

Participant fee: $3,600 (land cost)

Number of seats per venture: 22

Dates:  Mar 3 – Mar 10,  2018

Location:  Canyonlands, Utah

Venture Fellows: Bree Sterne, Kyle Brengel

Partner Organization