Discover the birds and geology of the Southwest

with our 2018 “Leopold Loop”

Geologist John Bloch and ornithologist Arch McCallum know New Mexico like the backs of their hands. Join them for a fusion of their disciplines as we explore the upper Rio Grande from Espanola to Alamosa. With world-class continental rift geology (tectonics, volcanics and rift architecture) as the organizing principle and a 7,000-foot gradient of bird habitat that should be good for over 100 species (including five species of Empidonax), there is something for every naturalist on this expedition. Expect lots of good stories, laughter and great food, too!

Is this trek right for me?

  • Great for the science and adventure-minded
  • Perfect for birders, hikers, and outdoor-lovers
  • No previous outdoor experience required

Flexible Itinerary

A note on “The Gulch Way”

The major differentiating factor between The Gulch and other outdoor experiences is “The Gulch Way”. It’s one part careful preparation, and two parts improvisation.

Each season we outline the Trek plans, then allow our knowledgeable staff to embrace unique opportunities that couldn’t otherwise be planned. We often adjust our itineraries when we’re invited to a ceremonial feast day, local flea market, or rug auction. We may be asked to help excavate an archaeological dig, or participate in a local art installation (both have happened!).

The nature of outdoor education reserves innate changes due to shifts in weather, wildfire, and trail or road closures. This is all part of the adventure that distinguishes Cottonwood Gulch.

What is included in the cost?

Tuition includes everything once you arrive in Albuquerque:

  • All meals
  • All transportation
  • Staff, educators, field specialists
  • All gear necessary for group expedition
  • Special activities (rafting, mountain biking, art classes + more) and backcountry permits

Trekkers are responsible for covering travel costs to and from Albuquerque the first day and last day of the trek. Gulch staff will be at the Albuquerque Sunport to greet incoming Trekkers.

For more logistical questions, visit our FAQ page, or give us a call: 505-248-0563.

*Our cancellation policy

Trek Details

Apply Online for this Trek

Send me more information

  • Co-ed: Ages 21+
  • 10-20 members
  • Cost: $1250
  • Dates May 19-27, 2018

Packing List


  • Explore the Gila National Forest
  • Hike in El Malpais
  • Which birds and plants are where, and why?
  • Learn about continental rift geology


Places We Go