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Western Group of Friends

Western Expedition
4 Environmental Science College Credits Available

Trip Overview

“The most fun and valuable experience in my life thus far.”11th Grade Female, Charlotte, NC

Explore the heart of the San Juan Mountains. Walk amongst the ancestral Pueblo peoples in Chaco Canyon. White water raft the thrilling Colorado River. Discover the historic mining town of Silverton, Colorado. Contribute to regional and global research projects. Earn college credit with Queens University. Push yourself. Be a part of GRP’s Western Expedition (WXP).

Chaco Canyon, and Northern New Mexico

Experience the ancient civilization of the Pueblo peoples on our introductory hikes in the gorgeous desert Southwest. Exploring a place that was central to thousands between 850 and 1250 A.D., we will enjoy the chance to acclimate and grow together as a community.

Discover the historic mining town of Silverton, Colorado

Further acclimated and ready for adventure, we will day hike and prepare for our backpacking trip in Silverton, a community resting at 9,318 feet and surrounded by striking 12-13,000 foot peaks. Established in 1874 as a mining community, it remained as such until the early 1990’s when the last mine closed. We will have the opportunity to climb to the Old 100 Boarding House with a local geologist and get our feet wet in the backcountry of the San Juan Mountains.

group silverton

san square

wbx flowers

Explore the San Juan Mountain Backcountry

Ready and eager to explore the rugged and high mountain range of the Rockies, we will set out on our 10-day backpacking trip circumnavigating the town of Silverton. Waking each morning to snow-capped peaks, we will hike through phenomenal flower filled meadows and gorgeous mountain landscapes. From our campsites, we will enjoy delicious meals and evenings spent under a brilliant canopy of stars.

Research with Mountain Studies Institute

Mountain Studies Institute (MSI) is a non-profit research, education, and outreach center whose mission is to enhance the understanding and sustainable use of the San Juan Mountains. Prior to departing on our backpacking trip, we will spend a day with MSI researchers learning and practicing research tools we can use and contribute in the backcountry. Projects in the past have included mountain fen restoration, high alpine lake sampling, and monitoring pika as an indicator species for climate change.

Whitewater Rafting and Inflatable Kayak the Colorado River


We will spend 3 days rafting along the mighty Colorado River. Starting in solo duckies, Expeditioners will be guided through class I and II rapids. Once we get the hang of paddling, we will hop into guided rafts and explore the 17-mile thrilling section of Westwater Canyon. This action packed section will see us through class II, III, and IV rapids with visits to swimming holes, ancient Indian petroglyphs, and phenomenal campsites along the way. This will be an experience you will never forget!


Day 1

Arrive in Albuquerque, NM (ABQ).

Day 2-4

Day hikes in historic Chaco Canyon.

Day 5

Day hike to Old 100 Boarding House in Silverton, Colorado.

Day 6

Logistics and preparation day.

Day 7- 15: Backpack Trip in the Mighty San Juan Mountains

Spend 8-10 days circumnavigating the town of Silverton, a place surrounded by 13,000-foot peaks. You and your friends will enjoy tromping through the high alpine wildflower filled meadows and admiring the amazing mountain vistas!

Group on the Pass

river with flowers


Day 16

Arrive back in Silverton for some rest and relaxation!

whitewater group

Day 17-19: Whitewater raft the thrilling Colorado River

Pilot solo inflatable kayaks on the Ruby Horsethief section and then hop in guided rafts for the exciting Westwater Canyon portion.

Day 20

Wake up on the river and drive back to Albuquerque for our final celebration.

Day 21

Depart from Albuquerque, NM.

We reserve the right to alter the itinerary prior to and throughout the trip. Itineraries may change due to: severe weather, student ability, motivation and conditioning, high or low rivers, high or low snow pack, unpredictable natural disasters, vehicle breakdowns, road closures, forest fires, illness, ever changing permit regulations, any potential threat to safety; even a brilliant idea from an instructor or student. In the event of a schedule change, comparable activities will be substituted when possible and you will be notified by e-mail of significant changes.

Download the Western Packing List.