Prairie Trek

Summer Trek




Overview of Prairie Trek

Join a group of adventurous young men who enjoy being outdoors to explore the Southwest. This supportive and motivated group of young men will wander desert canyons, summit mountain peaks, learn about local culture and ecology, and work together to overcome challenges. Even for someone who has never been camping before, this trek is a great fit to learn about the outdoors, leadership skills, the Southwest, and oneself.

The itinerary varies from year to year (see below for a sample itinerary), but you can rest assured that each year it will be packed with opportunities for hands on learning in the amazing backdrop of the American Southwest. Some years, the PT has summited Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in New Mexico, while other years they have hiked 15 miles in a day to get to Keet Seel, a spectacular cliff dwelling in Arizona. They may learn to read a topographic map, cook on a single burner backpacking stove, tie knots, work through conflict, select a campsite, and more. These experiences lead the teens on PT to reflect on their increased resilience, self love, and self confidence after completing their five week trek. By the end, they come away with new friends, outdoor and leadership skills, great memories, and new perspectives after five weeks of independence and exploration.


The PT spends the majority of their time exploring the wild places of the Four Corners states, though they will have about a week to get to know Basecamp. While at Basecamp, trekkers will have the opportunity to learn new skills from our specialists like metalsmithing, animal tracking, plant identification, mountain biking, farming, cooking, music, and rock climbing. The exact specialties of our staff vary from year to year, but we always have an incredibly talented and knowledgeable team that is excited to introduce trekkers to new skills as well as offer deeper exploration for those already familiar with a topic. The PT will also have the opportunity to get to know trekkers on other treks and serve as role models for our younger trekkers.

 The PT could serve as a prelude to our longer Mountain Desert Trek or be a great foundation to other outdoor adventures for years to come. Regardless of what a PT alum chooses to do in the future, he will have skills and confidence that he can rely on at school, work, and home. In today’s world, communication, conflict resolution, empathy, and other interpersonal skills are more important than ever and the PT is a perfect opportunity to build them. PT alumni have gone on to become Gulch interns and staff, scientists, photographers, artists, professors and other educators, guides, directors of nonprofits, business owners, and many other careers influenced by their time on the PT.

While on trek with us, participants will complete a project in a field they are interested in. These are meant to be opportunities to take advantage of the vast knowledge sets of our staff, dive deeper into a topic of interest, and to walk away from the summer having a tangible example of all that was accomplished. Examples of past projects include: building a latrine at basecamp, creating maps, conducting a stream study, creating a field guide, compiling an art portfolio, writing an original song, planning and leading activities for other trekkers, and many more. To help us prepare to facilitate these projects, we will send a survey for your trekker to complete. If they aren’t sure, that’s okay! Our staff are ready and excited to talk with them about their interests and figure out what makes sense. 


Age Range: 14 - 16

Gender: Male Only

Min Group Size: 8

Max Group Size: 18

Instructors: 3

Elevation: 5,000 to 13,000 feet

36 Days on Trek

number of days on the trek

Cost: $6,550

6/30 - 8/5

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Trek Details

This trek will encourage trekkers to explore, create, learn, listen and play. Here are the details!

Explore|Outdoor Adventure

  • Great Sand Dunes, CO
  • Tree Climbing the Ponderosa Pines at Basecamp
  • Rock Climbing in multiple locations like Mentmore sandstone crag which multiple single pitch options.
  • Solo Backpacking! Our leaders will drop you off in a valley, nature’s safety bumpers, and you will spend a night on your own!

Create | Art / Music

  • Making Pies in Pietown
  • Beading with Barb
  • Knife making
  • Nature-based art projects to beautify and educate other trekkers

Learn | Science / Technical Skills

  • Personal Service Learning Project
  • LNT
  • Trail Work

Listen | Culture / Community

  • Visit a Native American festival, pending invitation and Covid regulations, (pre-covid, our organization was lucky enough to be invited to Pueblo Feast Day of the Zuni, Laguna and Acoma peoples, respectively
  • Volunteer at a Dine/Navajo farm
  • Service Learning Project to help better the community


  • Mountain biking

Trek Log

Zachary Demarest

This morning there were some tarp problems so breakfast wasn’t as hot as usual. After we packed up, we drove and stopped a couple of times along the way for gas and lunch. For lunch we stopped in the town of Escalante, and we got to buy some stuff at the store. I learned that a large bottle of root beer has like 600% of the recommended daily sugar, and also has the potential to give someone type 2 diabetes. After we left there, we eventually got to our campsite– after getting the van stuck for over an hour, but finally freeing it by brute force –and set up the groover in a good spot. We got some fresh glizzies for dinner and then got a Prius unstuck (2 vehicles total today). The most important part of the day was when we learned the many ways to store feces in our backpacks for maximum efficiency.

P.S. – RIP groover

Ezra Goldner

We woke up at the normal time, packed up our stuff, and then had breakfast which was eggs and corn tortillas plus rice krispies. It was very good. Then we went on a day hike through a canyon and the trail was very sandy. We hiked for a little bit and then we drove out of our campsite and ate lunch down the road a little bit. After lunch, we went to our next campsite and played camouflage. Then we ate dinner, had campfire (where we meditated) and then went to sleep.

Resources for Parents

Within Your Itinerary You Might

The trek itineraries vary year to year, depending on permits and staff expertise

  • Meet with a musician
  • Visit an Amphitheater
  • Take some Day hikes
  • Meet with an instrument manufacturer
  • Visit music festival
  • Visit Hispanic Cultural Center and Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
  • A Sunset hike
  • Basecamp Loop (Cottonwoods)
  • Visit Zuni Pueblo to meet musicians and artists
  • Meet with an artist 
  • Visit Georgia O’Keefe Museum and other local art based museums  
  • Visit Taos Earthships
  • Explore Lavender Farm
  • Day hike Canyon de Chelly
  • Day hike El Morro National Monument

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