Course Code: CUYH-2442
Start Date: 7/24/24
End Date: 8/7/24
While rafting, you’ll get to feel the exhilaration of rushing waves as you paddle through whitewater rapids. By canoe, you’ll have the chance to slow down and take in the beauty of the canyon. Camp along sandy shores and search for shooting stars under pristine skies. Spot ancient dwellings and rock art and pictographs tucked within the canyon walls. There will be times of excitement as well as times to slow down and connect with your crewmates and the natural world. By the end of course, you and your crewmates will be the leaders as you hone-in your skills in backcountry camping and river travel. No previous boating experience is necessary to enjoy this expedition. At the end of it all, you’ll emerge a confident and resilient leader with the tools to be your best self on the river and at home.
Desolation and Gray Canyons, Utah
Surrounded by the Tavaputs Plateau and bordered by the Uinta and Ouray Reservation on the east, the journey on the Green River begins in Desolation Canyon near Sand Wash. Throughout the canyon, there are spectacular rock formations, archaeological sites and abandoned ranches including McPherson Ranch, once frequented by Butch Cassidy's “Wild Bunch.” The tiered rock walls of Desolation give way to the earthy bluffs of Gray Canyon, creating a striking contrast that characterizes the next 25 miles of the journey.
On longer rafting courses you may continue your journey down the Green River through Labyrinth Canyon, where the river dives deep into the pink sandstone of the Navajo Formation which characterizes southeastern Utah and the Canyonlands area with narrow winding side canyons, orange Wingate cliffs, pinnacles and ledges. These regions are within the ancestral lands of the Ute and Diné Bikéyah nations.
Photo: Harmony McCoy |Ute and Diné Bikéyah lands
Utah's Canyon Country
The most spectacular aspects of the Utah landscape are the hidden treasures found within its vast canyon networks. The canyons are composed of a spell-binding labyrinth of towering walls, arches, and slot canyons just waiting to be explored. On course, these vibrant formations are a geological playground for scrambling and teamwork. The desert ecosystem is characterized by aromatic plants like sagebrush and juniper and birds soaring high above canyon walls. The days can be hot in the summertime, but it always cools down in the evenings. These regions are within the ancestral lands of the Ute, Pueblos, Southern Paiute, Diné, and Hopi nations.
Labyrinth Canyon, Utah
You will launch on the Green River in two-person canoes for 63 miles through Labyrinth Canyon. The river enters Labyrinth Canyon slowly, named for the serpentine path it carves as it dives deep into the redrock sandstone that characterizes southeastern Utah and the Canyonlands area. Narrow and winding side canyons, towering cliffs rising vertically out of the river, pinnacles and ledges all await you as you fine-tune your paddling strokes. The canoes provide you with great freedom and maneuverability. While many of the skills you learn canoeing are transferable to rafts, the small craft will demand a high level of coordination and cooperation with your canoeing partner. During this phase of your course, your instructors will introduce you to the most important elements of river life: environmental stewardship, outdoor cooking, first aid, natural history of the river canyons, the night sky, and of course, paddling skills. This region is within the ancestral lands of the Ute nations.
What is a land acknowledgment?
At the Colorado Outward Bound School, we include land acknowledgments in our work as a formal way to recognize and respect the traditional territories and Indigenous Peoples as stewards of the land. It is important to understand and acknowledge the comprehensive past, present, and future of the places we travel and to seek to understand our role therein. To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation we give to the Indigenous Peoples who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. Read more about land acknowledgments at Outward Bound here.
On the river, each day is spent learning to navigate various obstacles and how to anticipate the forces of the current from upstream. You and your companions will work to become a team, coordinating your spacing and paddle strokes. You will have an opportunity to be the captain of your crew and put to use what you’ve learned as you maneuver your raft through Class 2-4 rapids. Interspersed between the rapids are flat-water sections where there is a current, but no whitewater. At times, you will take advantage of this calm water to hone your skills and enjoy the view. Time in a raft is ideal for getting to know each other and forming boat pride, laughing your way downriver as you relax into river life. Afternoons can bring strong up-canyon winds, which create a challenge as you dig in to reach the camping destination. Rafting connects you to the river: the oasis of flora and fauna (including humans!) that rely on the river to survive in the desert. The soaring canyons complement the roar of whitewater, as well as the silences that can only be found in such remote beauty.
Photo: Curtis Huey |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Diné, and Pueblos lands
Guided Reflection and Transference
At Outward Bound we believe there is no learning without reflection. Throughout course, you will be prompted to reflect on what you’re experiencing on course, and what it means in the greater context of your life. Sometimes this is a journaling exercise, sometimes a group sharing experience, and sometimes a moment of solitude to sit and think. You spend focused time toward course progression end exploring how your new knowledge, skills and attributes can apply to your life after course.
Solo is a time when you’ll get the opportunity to spend time alone during course. With sufficient food and equipment, your Solo will be a chance to reflect on your course experience, journal, and connect with nature. Depending on your course length and environmental factors, Solo can range from 30 minutes to an overnight experience. You will not travel during this time and your Instructors may check on you occasionally. Your solo site will be close enough to your Instructors in case of emergency, but far enough removed to enjoy solitude. Many students are initially nervous about solo, but later recall it as one of the highlights of their course.
Service is a pillar of the Outward Bound experience. On each course, students learn to practice intentional service to themselves, to others and to the environment. This may look like practicing self-care or supporting a crewmate who is having a hard day. Participants also learn to Leave No Trace ethics, practicing service to the environment by preserving and respecting the fragile ecosystems they encounter. Students experience firsthand the social and emotional benefits of acts of service. They are encouraged to bring this ethic of care to their life back home.
Canoeing is an opportunity to experience the jaw-dropping canyons and magic of the river. The tranquil waters allow for reflection and relationship-building with your canoe partner. The calm waters can change with up-canyon winds that require strength to push forward. The canoes provide you with great freedom and maneuverability. While many of the skills you learn canoeing are transferable to rafts, the small craft will demand a high level of coordination and cooperation with your canoeing partner. Canoeing allows for connection to place, water, and people.
Photo: Ashley Perry |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Diné, and Pueblos lands
Our expeditions help students grow into the best version of themselves. We use adventure in the outdoors to help students discover their strengths and build authentic connections with their peers. Compassion for oneself and others is foundational to the Outward Bound experience. As students develop outdoor skills, they also gain confidence and leadership tools that will last a lifetime. Course outcomes include:
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