The Gulch Base Camp


Time-lapse photo of the night sky above our Mess Hall

Life at the Gulch

Each group spends part of their expedition at the Cottonwood Gulch Base Camp, a 540-acre nature preserve in the foothills of the Zuni Mountains. The Outfit, our youngest group, spends most of their two-week session at Base Camp, while other groups will spend between 6-12 days at The Gulch as part of their longer expedition. What you’ll do at Base Camp:

  • Sleep in open-air cabins
  • Eat meals in our family-style mess hall
  • Relax along Sawyer Creek or in our pool
  • Silversmithing and pottery in the Native Arts Workshop
  • Harvesting vegetables from our organic farm
  • Tree coring and archeologist with our resident naturalist and archaeologist
  • Participate in restoration and conservation projects in the Cibola National Forest

A Living Laboratory

Our 540-acre Base Camp is a “living laboratory” that is home to many different microclimates and ecosystems. Each year, trekkers find their own hidden spots to dig and explore, which makes Base Camp feel like a second home.


Located 7,500 feet above sea level, the Base Camp summer weather is idyllic:


The Prairie Trek outside one of our cabins

  • Average High: 83
  • Average Low: 54
  • Humidity: Very low
  • Clear Blue Skies: Plentiful
  • Number of Visible Stars: Immeasurable

Our Cabins

Our embody our outdoor-oriented philosophy. We don’t believe in air conditioning at The Gulch. Fresh air is much better. Our cabins are certainly comfortable, but they are also open-air and rustic. They were designed to be part of the landscape, so outdoor lovers won’t have any trouble feeling right at home.


Our Food

Our Base Camp and group cooks take pride in feeding trekkers well. Each meal is prepared with both nutrition and taste in mind, using fresh ingredients and produce from our farm. Groups eat family style in our mess hall, often enjoying organic vegetables or bread baked in our outdoor pueblo-style horno. In addition to simply eating the food, interested Trekkers can work side-by-side with our cooks to help prepare meals. Each year we have several “cooks’ assistants” who learn everything from how to chop an onion to how to prepare an entire New Mexican meal for their group. Consequently, many Trekkers return home with newfound skills with which to “wow” their families and friends.


Meal time inside our Mess Hall

Dietary Restrictions and Food Allergies

Our cooks are happy to accommodate a wide variety of dietary needs: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free are all common. While we cannot accommodate every diet on the planet, we rarely have a trekker that we cannot please—the food gets outstanding reviews each year, and we are committed to keeping it that way.

Gulch Gardens

We love our gardens, and we even hire a resident farmer each year to tend them and teach our Trekkers how to grow and prepare a variety of fresh food.

Read more on The Gulch Farm page

Pool and Showers

Every afternoon to cool off in our pool and wash up in our heated showers. While it is never unbearably hot at The Gulch, an afternoon dip is something we can all look forward to.