Push yourself to lead as you learn two unique skills: whitewater paddling and rock climbing. On this course you’ll explore the Green River’s Desolation Canyon and the crags of Wyoming. Read the turns of a river as you paddle a raft or kayak through a rapid.
Deepen your knowledge of local ecology as you float through winding canyon walls. Practice reading the rock of a steep new crag and learn the skills of safe climbing. No matter what level of climbing or paddling you start with, you’ll find plenty of things to learn on this course.
In addition to wilderness skills, you will focus on gaining leadership experience. Navigating a rapid becomes a lesson in teamwork. Pushing yourself to try a new rock climb becomes a lesson in self awareness and working toward goals. Each day will offer you new opportunities to find out what your leadership style is and use it to support your team. By the end of this course, you’ll walk away with experiences that have prepared you to be a leader in school, your community, and beyond.
Your course begins at the NOLS River Base in Vernal, Utah, where you’ll be introduced to the rafts and kayaks that will take you down the Green River, through the remote and rugged Desolation and Grey Canyons.
Before getting on the river, you'll spend time at our river base getting familiar with whitewater kayaks. You'll practice basic strokes and self-rescue rolls. Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you’ll head to a put-in in Desolation Canyon on the Green River.
Desolation Canyon progresses in increasing difficulty. You’ll start with basic instruction in eddy turns, peel-outs, ferries, and river reading. Rafting instruction begins with an overview of paddle rafting and captaining skills. Mastering the stroke combinations, timing, and communication skills needed to put your raft exactly where you need it precede more advanced techniques, including raft rescue. You’ll learn to scout rapids, and to employ techniques that ensure your party’s safety as you negotiate them. Learning to rig, load, and row the oar rafts that carry your gear completes a well-rounded curriculum of whitewater skills.
While on the river, you’ll have time to study the area’s rich natural and human history. The spectacularly exposed geology makes a perfect classroom for observing plants, animals, and ecosystems. Water is a vital resource in the West, and rivers have long sparked special management and conservation concerns.
*Duration: 30 days
*Course sections: 17-day rock climbing section, 12-day whitewater section
*River route length: 84 miles
*Average group size: 15 students and 4–5 instructors
*Average age: 19 / minimum age: 16 (except for 16 and 17 only courses)
*Watercraft used: oar raft, paddle raft, and kayak
*Basic rescue skills in the rock and river settings