Turquoise Trail

Summer Trek




Overview of Turquoise Trail

Join a group of adventurous young women who enjoy being outdoors to explore the Southwest. This supportive and motivated group of girls 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 TT 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 TT 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 TT 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 TT will also have the opportunity to get to know trekkers on other treks and serve as role models for our younger trekkers. 

The TT 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 TT alum chooses to do in the future, she will have skills and confidence that she 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 TT is a perfect opportunity to build them. TT 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 TT. 

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: Female 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: $5,830

Scholarships Available - Click Here

June 20 - July 25

Enroll Now

Registration Deadline: June 17, 2022

COVID-19 Considerations:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe outdoor education is more essential than ever. While we don’t know exactly what the pandemic will look like for Summer 2022, we are hopeful that we can run small group treks in outdoor spaces. Some experiences noted in this document, such as caving, may not be possible.

Trek Log


“Today was the first day of TT. We hung out at the airport for a few hours and I hung out with PT friends. Then, we drove to Magdalena Water Canyon Campground and set up camp. We talked and bonded and had pesto and chocolate fondue for dinner. People were messy so I had to lick up the chocolate from the bench. My mom gave me a frisbee and some funny things so we tried playing frisbee in the dark and Dessa hit Lucy in the face and gave her a bloody lip. Then, we had campfire and talked about our fears and goals and all the new info about camp. We sang a couple songs pretty badly then went to bed and talked.”

Captain Krasilovsky of planet Fanta Se

“Today, Commanding Officer Hailey and I were awakened by Crewmember Julia asking if bug bites had enlarged her head (they had not). Then, we took a leisurely stroll to the pit toilets, where Crewmember Juila opened the unlocked door to a scandalous nerd that could live in his mother’s basement with a smooth, yet feathered mullet, massive biceps, and a Cap. America muscle shirt. As he exited the lattie, he said that the door was locked, although it clearly was not. Then, we returned to camp and loaded into the vehicles. We said our final goodbyes to Chick Magnet Bob with the long chest hair and the bear/cougar from last night, and we were off. Commanding Officer Hailey, Crewmate Julia, and I all rode in the com with Cook and Morale Officer Nicole and got to play our music and made first contact with a cellular device.

After the drive, we were introduced to the Tierra Wool weavery where we learned how to weave on their looms and spin and dye wool. While there, we ate lunch in the nice grass. I pulled the tarp back over the commissary vehicle being used to transport our stuff and people, and we drove off to another campsite. This one is in between Bandelier and Chimayo. For dinner, we had “fried rice” which was a bit gooey, but it was very good. After an early KP, we started our first real campfire in a long while. We read log entries, played hotseat, and I played guitar. It started drizzling, so we ended speedily and went to our tarps. Right now, I am with Crewmates Iris, Ada, and Julia, along with Commanding Officer Hailey, counting seconds between lightning and thunder.”

-Signing off, leader of the Imperial Fleet

Resources for Parents

Sample Itinerary

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

Day 1

Arrive and get to know everyone

Day 2

Prepare for backpacking

Day 3-6

Backpacking in the Blue Range Wilderness

Day 7

Eat pie in Pie Town, NM on the Continental Divide

Day 8

Caving in El Malpais National Monument

Day 9-15

Basecamp Loop (Cottonwood, Solo)

Day 16

Stay with community member on the Navajo Nation

Day 17

Day hike to Keet Seel

Day 18

Valley of the Gods

Day 19-20

Explore Canyonlands National Park

Day 21-25

Backpacking trip in Manti La Sal National Forest

Day 26

Resupply in Moab

Day 27

Explore Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Day 28

Day hike at Mesa Verde National Park

Day 29

Rock climbing in Jemez National Forest

Day 30

Meet with local artist in Jemez

Day 31-32

Conduct stream study

Day 33

Camp in Cibola National Forest

Day 34


Day 35

Trek wrap up, final banquet

Day 36

Head Home

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