Overview

Get ready for a unique Western adventure: horsepacking in the rugged mountains and deserts of Wyoming. Learn to travel and camp with horses as you explore the glacier-carved Wind River Range, sweeping plateaus of the Absarokas, or the striking Red Desert.

Your course begins at the NOLS Three Peaks Ranch in Boulder, Wyoming, learning basic skills such as catching your horses, grooming, saddling, riding, and packing and loading panniers.  For the first few days, you’ll sleep out in the ranch’s campground to solidify your outdoor living skills. You’ll learn to pitch your own tent and cook your breakfast and dinner on camp stoves. On the morning of the fifth day, you’ll pack up and head for the trailhead.

Your route will vary depending on the time of year. Early summer courses traverse Wyoming’s spectacular Red Desert at the foothills of the Wind River Range. This land of multi-colored arroyos, sagebrush, and low grasses is home to herds of wild horses, antelope, elk, and deer. Early wagon trains bound for Oregon, California, and Utah skirted the edges of the Red Desert, and you can still see the ruts left from their passing. 

Late summer courses head into the Absaroka or Wind River Mountains. The volcanic Absarokas are carved into deep, lush valleys walled by crumbling cliffs and high plateaus. Elk, moose, bighorn sheep, deer, bear, and wolves make their home there. The Wind River Mountains are a rugged, glacier-carved range renowned for their sheer granite walls and trout fishing. 

With these opportunities comes hard work. Your days will begin early with tending to the horses, breaking down camp, and saddling and loading the animals. During the day, you’ll typically travel between five and ten miles in a variety of terrain. You’ll end the day with a routine that will become familiar: unloading, unsaddling, and caring for your horses and yourself. You will learn to pick camps with appropriate parameters and resources for horses and humans. You can expect early mornings, long days, and to do a healthy amount of heavy lifting. Even though you won’t be carrying gear all day the way you might on a backpacking trip, you’ll be surprised to find that your body will be sore from long days in the saddle and the nearly constant work of managing the horses you travel and camp with. 

A foundational course goal is building an inclusive community with your peers. Learning the value of teamwork, you will tackle group challenges and achieve common goals. With the guidance of your instructors and plenty of daily practice with leadership and outdoor skills, by the end of this trip you’ll have the experience necessary to visit the mountains on horseback long after the end of your expedition.

Related Listings

NOLS Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA)

Multiple  -   Summer Program
If you travel or work in remote areas and need more extensive training than a Wilderness First Aid course, our Wilderness Advanced First Aid course ... (more)

NOLS Outdoor Gap Year

Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, United States, New Zealand  -   Gap Year Program
A gap year with NOLS offers opportunities to develop leadership skills, gain global perspective, explore the wilderness, and learn from the best. Explore our worldwide ... (more)

NOLS Fall Semester in East Africa

Africa  -   Gap Year Program
Spend a semester immersing yourself in local culture through impactful, hands-on service projects in Tanzania. Start learning Kiswahili, hike with Maasai warriors and attempt to ... (more)

NOLS Fall Semester in Baja

Latin America  -   Gap Year Program
Open the door to lifelong outdoor adventure, leadership, and international travel with a semester in Baja. This semester combines a variety of outdoor activities interspersed with ... (more)

NOLS Fall Semester in India

Asia  -   Gap Year Program
Spend a semester immersing yourself in the culture and landscape of the Indian Himalayas. From towering peaks to the rushing waters of the Kali River, ... (more)

NOLS Fall Semester in New Zealand

New Zealand  -   Gap Year Program
Immerse yourself in the natural history and culture of New Zealand’s South Island for a semester that will be challenging and transformative. As you travel ... (more)

NOLS Fall Gap Semester in Patagonia

Latin America  -   Gap Year Program
Leave the ordinary behind with a semester in Patagonia. On this course, you’ll go mountaineering and sea kayaking in the Andes and coastal regions of Chile ... (more)

NOLS Fall Semester in the Pacific Northwest

Canada, United States  -   Gap Year Program
Get outside the traditional classroom and spend a semester in the Pacific Northwest. Grow your leadership skills as you explore quiet coves, dense forests, and ... (more)

NOLS Fall Semester in the Rockies

United States  -   Gap Year Program
Spend a semester in the Rockies. This course will be your opportunity to learn a variety of outdoor skills and earn a Wilderness First Aid ... (more)

NOLS Fall Semester in the Southwest

United States  -   Gap Year Program
Immerse yourself with a semester in the American Southwest as you develop leadership and new outdoor skills. Explore hidden canyons, canoe stunning rivers, and trek ... (more)

NOLS Study Abroad Outdoors

Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, United States, New Zealand  -   Gap Year Program
Explore the world on a wilderness expedition. Dive into a study abroad experience like no other. Travel to one of our campuses around the world, ... (more)

NOLS Baja Coastal Sailing

Latin America  -   Gap Year Program
Learn to sail and explore the remote and rugged Baja coast aboard the Drascombe Longboat. This is a unique sailing experience where you will learn ... (more)

NOLS Baja Sea Kayaking

Latin America  -   Gap Year Program
In this NOLS course, the Sea of Cortez will be your home. You’ll explore its coasts and coves by sea kayak, starting with the basics ... (more)

NOLS Fall Semester in the Rockies with WFR

United States  -   Gap Year Program
Explore the outdoors from canyons to mountains on the Semester in the Rockies. This course will be your opportunity to learn a variety of outdoor ... (more)

NOLS Himalaya Backpacking

Asia  -   Gap Year Program
Experience a side of India that travelers rarely see as you trek into the remote Himalayas. As you immerse yourself in India’s landscape, you’ll expand ... (more)

NOLS Himalaya Cultural Expedition

Asia  -   Gap Year Program
Combine your passion for the outdoors with intercultural exchange in India’s Kumaon region. Backpack through the soaring mountains of the Himalaya while developing the skills ... (more)

NOLS Himalaya Mountaineering

Asia  -   Gap Year Program
Learn to lead on challenging terrain on this high-altitude mountaineering course. As you explore India’s remote Kumaon region, you’ll develop the skills you need to ... (more)

NOLS India Trip Leader

Asia  -   Gap Year Program
Learn in India in this 21-day trip leadership course for Indians and those from neighboring countries. Hone your skills in safety and judgement, leadership and ... (more)

NOLS Pacific Northwest Spring Quarter

Canada, United States  -   Gap Year Program
This demanding course will challenge you in the best wilderness classrooms the Pacific Northwest has to offer, from the U.S. to Canada. This course is ... (more)

NOLS Pacific Northwest Trip Leader

United States  -   Gap Year Program
Combine your passion for wilderness with your passion for education in this short, intensive opportunity for professional development in the wilderness. If you’re a current ... (more)

NOLS Patagonia Coastal Expedition

Latin America  -   Gap Year Program
Challenge yourself to connect with the sea and the mountains and to meet your leadership goals on this expedition. You’ll explore the fjords and rugged ... (more)

NOLS Patagonia Cultural Expedition

Latin America  -   Gap Year Program
Explore the mountains and meet the people of Chile’s Aysén region. On this course, you’ll start by getting to know this region on foot, backpacking ... (more)

NOLS Patagonia Mountaineering

Latin America  -   Gap Year Program
Find adventure among the peaks, rivers, and coastal rainforests of the Andes. On this course, you’ll learn about living and traveling in the mountains of ... (more)

NOLS Scandinavian Backpacking

Europe  -   Gap Year Program
Find new challenges in the Scandes Mountains. On this course, head north of the Arctic Circle to backpack in some of the most rugged landscapes ... (more)

NOLS Southwest Leaders of Color Expedition

United States  -   Gap Year Program
Join this affinity group expedition to expand your leadership and technical outdoor skills with fellow people of color. Designed for self-identified people of color who ... (more)

NOLS Southwest Rock Climbing

United States  -   Gap Year Program
You’re hungry for new challenges and ready to push the edges of your comfort zone. On this course, rock climbing will be your challenge, whether ... (more)

NOLS Spring Semester in Baja

Latin America  -   Gap Year Program
Open the door to lifelong outdoor adventure, leadership, and international travel on the Semester in Baja. Explore winding canyons in the Sonoran Desert. Sail quiet ... (more)

NOLS Spring Semester in India

Asia  -   Gap Year Program
Spend a semester immersing yourself in the culture and landscape of the Indian Himalayas. From towering peaks to the rushing waters of the Kali River, ... (more)

NOLS Spring Semester in New Zealand

New Zealand  -   Gap Year Program
Immerse yourself in the natural history and culture of New Zealand’s South Island for a semester that will be challenging and transformative. As you travel ... (more)

NOLS Spring Semester in Patagonia

Latin America  -   Gap Year Program
Leave the ordinary behind with a semester in Patagonia. Expand your horizons and immerse yourself in a unique landscape and culture. Travel by sea and ... (more)

NOLS Spring Semester in the Rockies

United States  -   Gap Year Program
Explore the outdoors from canyons to mountains on the Semester in the Rockies. This course will be your opportunity to learn a variety of outdoor ... (more)

NOLS Spring Semester in the Southwest

United States  -   Gap Year Program
Spend a semester in the beautiful American Southwest as you develop leadership and new outdoor skills. Explore hidden canyons, canoe stunning rivers, and trek through ... (more)

NOLS Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester

United States  -   Gap Year Program
The Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester is a unique blend of wilderness skills, medicine, rescue, and leadership. The course is designed for those who aspire ... (more)

NOLS Wind River Wilderness 18 to 22 Only

United States  -   Gap Year Program
You’re ready for an epic adventure in the Mountain West. You dream of scrambling up peaks, finding trout-filled rivers, and camping on snow in July. ... (more)

NOLS Gap Year in Patagonia

Latin America  -   Gap Year Program
Grow in Patagonia on an extended expedition packed with leadership mastery, outdoor skills, impressive wilderness certifications, local service, and cultural immersion. The Patagonia Year gives ... (more)

NOLS Summer Semester in Alaska

Palmer, AK  -   Summer Program
Get ready for the summer adventure of a lifetime. A semester in Alaska will take you from forested coastlines to high mountain peaks, and the ... (more)

NOLS Summer Semester in the Rockies

Lander, WY  -   Summer Program
This summer, find adventure in the Rockies. Embrace new challenges as you backpack through Wyoming’s snow-capped mountains, climb granite crags, and paddle whitewater rapids on ... (more)

NOLS Pacific Northwest Backpacking Adventure

Mount Vernon, WA  -   Summer Program
Start a lifetime of adventure with a two-week wilderness expedition. In this NOLS course designed for 14- and 15-year-olds, you’ll dive into learning leadership and ... (more)

NOLS Idaho Backpacking Adventure

Driggs, ID  -   Summer Program
Trek through Idaho's pine forests and top windy ridges to see the next valley before you. Whether you climb your first peak, catch your first ... (more)

NOLS Wyoming Backpacking Adventure

Lander, WY  -   Summer Program
This summer, get ready for a real adventure: hiking and camping in Wyoming’s famed mountains with a group of peers ages 14 and 15. Work ... (more)

NOLS Adirondack Backpack Adventure

Gabriels, NY  -   Summer Program
This NOLS course will take you through the Adirondack Forest Preserve, one of the oldest protected lands in the country. You’ll climb high rocky peaks, ... (more)

NOLS Salmon River Adventure

Driggs, ID  -   Summer Program
This two-week course for 14 and 15 year olds will explore the Main Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. You will navigate the Salmon's ... (more)

NOLS Adirondack Girls Backpacking Adventure

Gabriels, NY  -   Summer Program
Join a group of motivated girls and start exploring the wilderness. On this all girls' course, you’ll dive into learning leadership and outdoor skills as ... (more)

NOLS Idaho Girls Backpacking Adventure

Driggs, ID  -   Summer Program
Come to Idaho and explore the outdoors with a group of girls looking to grow and support each other throughout this wilderness backpacking course. Build self-confidence ... (more)

NOLS Wind River Wilderness

Lander, WY  -   Summer Program
Find new challenges on the original NOLS course. Head to the wilderness to grow as a leader. On this course, you’ll spend a month in ... (more)

NOLS Absaroka Backpacking

Lander, WY  -   Summer Program
Take your summer vacation to backpack in some of the country’s most remote wilderness in the Absaroka Range. Explore a land of turbulent rivers, windswept ... (more)

NOLS Alaska Backpacking

Palmer, AK  -   Summer Program
Push yourself to explore a vast and beautiful landscape in Alaska. Explore terrain that few people ever see, surrounded by endless tundra, near 24-hour daylight, ... (more)

NOLS Alaska Backpacking (16 and 17 Only)

Palmer, AK  -   Summer Program
Push yourself to explore a vast and beautiful landscape in Alaska. Explore terrain that few people ever see, surrounded by endless tundra, near 24-hour daylight, ... (more)

NOLS Alaska Backpacking and Sea Kayaking

Palmer, AK  -   Summer Program
Alaska is a land of incredible fjords, forested ocean coasts, and high alpine meadows. Your month-long adventure will give you a chance to learn two ... (more)

NOLS Alaska Mountaineering

Palmer, AK  -   Summer Program
This course takes you to a place in south central Alaska often referred to as "the mountain kingdom of North America," where a chain of ... (more)

NOLS Leave No Trace Master Educator

Multiple Locations, United States  -   Summer Program
Learn to travel responsibly and sustainably in wild places. Within the rich ecosystems of our public lands, you will learn and teach the principles of ... (more)

NOLS North Cascades Mountaineering

Mount Vernon, WA  -   Summer Program
This NOLS course will take you to Washington’s North Cascades, a mountain range characterized by jagged peaks, deep valleys, cascading waterfalls and vast glaciers. More ... (more)

NOLS Pacific Northwest Backpacking

Mount Vernon, WA  -   Summer Program
Grow as a leader during a month in the wilderness. In this NOLS course, you’ll dive into learning leadership and outdoor skills in the North ... (more)

NOLS Pacific Northwest Sea Kayaking

Mount Vernon, WA  -   Summer Program
In this NOLS course, explore the lush, wild coastline of British Columbia, Canada, on this month-long sea kayaking adventure. Paddle between densely forested islands and ... (more)

NOLS Rock and River

Vernal, UT  -   Summer Program
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 ... (more)

NOLS Rock Climbing 30 Day

Lander, WY  -   Summer Program
Find new challenges rock climbing in the mountains. On this course, you’ll join a group of your peers and dive into learning leadership and rock ... (more)

NOLS Salmon Backpacking and Rafting

Driggs, ID  -   Summer Program
Dive into your next big adventure: climbing mountains and paddling rapids in the Idaho backcountry. Backpack along high ridges and scramble up rugged peaks, pausing ... (more)

NOLS Waddington Range Mountaineering

Mt. Vernon, WA  -   Summer Program
Find new challenges on an unforgettable adventure in Canada’s beautiful and remote Waddington Range. On this month-long expedition, build the technical mountaineering skills you need ... (more)

NOLS Whitewater River Expedition

Vernal, UT  -   Summer Program
Meet new challenges and develop as a leader. On this river expedition, you’ll explore over 100 miles of the breathtaking canyons of Utah’s Green River, ... (more)

NOLS Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA)

Multiple  -   Summer Program
If you travel or work in remote areas and need more extensive training than a Wilderness First Aid course, our Wilderness Advanced First Aid course ... (more)

NOLS Wind River Mountaineering

Lander, WY  -   Summer Program
Head to Wyoming and explore the mountains. On this course, you’ll travel through Wyoming’s Wind River Range learning the basics of traveling and climbing in ... (more)

NOLS Wind River Service Expedition

Lander, WY  -   Summer Program
You’re ready to work hard and play hard in the Rocky Mountains. You’re looking for an opportunity to contribute to something bigger than yourself and ... (more)
Show More

Participant Reviews

Write a Review

This program hasn't been reviewed yet. Write the first review!

Participant Reviews

Write a Review

This program hasn't been reviewed yet. Write the first review!

Request More Information

Close Icon

Want More Information about NOLS Wilderness Horsepacking?

Your request will be sent directly to National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).

I am a:
 
By submitting this form I confirm that I am at least 13 years of age and give my consent to be contacted by National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) by email as well as by phone and/or mail (if provided).