Adult and Family Experiences

Flocks and Rocks

Join geologist Jack Oviatt and ornithologist Arch McCallum for a fusion of their disciplines as we explore a little-known corner of the Southwest—Leopold Country. Aldo Leopold (1885-1948) created the academic field of wildlife management, helped found the wilderness movement, and proposed the Land Ethic as a guide to our place in nature. There is something for every naturalist on this expedition. Expect lots of good stories, laughter, and great food, too!

Family Trek

Bring the whole family to these appropriate for all ages adventures! No need for any particular outdoor skills, just a willingness to try.

Bachechi Speaker Series

Click to learn more about our schedule of speakers at the Bachechi Open Space in Albuquerque. Past topics have included bird walks, nature journaling and mindfulness, plant walks, beavers, hiking and map reading, and others! If there are topics that you would like to see covered, let us know!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is your cancellation policy?

A nonrefundable deposit of 20% of the full tuition will hold your place in the group and is due with the initial application. The remaining balance is due two months prior to the beginning of the trek. If you sign up within 2 months, the full tuition is required in order to reserve a place.

If you need to cancel your enrollment, the 20% deposit is nonrefundable at any time. If you cancel prior to two months before the trek, the remaining 80% of your tuition is fully refundable. Within two months, no paid tuition is refundable. A full refund will only be made if an application is not accepted or if the expedition must be canceled. All adult and family treks have a minimum number of participants. If the minimum number of participants has not been met two months prior to the trek, we will cancel the trek and issue refunds. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause with travel plans.

What is the food like?

All of our cooks take pride in preparing delicious food for you while on trek. Each meal is prepared with both nutrition and taste in mind, using almost entirely fresh ingredients. While in Base Camp, groups eat family style in our mess hall, often enjoying organic vegetables from our own garden, or bread baked in our outdoor pueblo-style horno. On the road, the group cook prepares all meals, typically on a two-burner camping stove. Most, if not all, dietary restrictions can be accommodated for (i.e. gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian, etc.) provided that we are aware of them. Please make note of any special dietary needs that you have on your health form. As an organization, we pride ourselves on providing nutritious, delicious food for all of our programs.

What does "rustic" mean?

Our basecamp facility has a wonderful rustic charm. There are trails rather than paved walkways, the cabins are open to the surrounding environment so that you can enjoy all that nature has to offer, and our access to electricity and internet are limited. While your group is on the road, the accommodations are tents with cots or sleeping pads. At our base camp we have showers available for groups, and while on the road we do our best to camp at areas with showers every few days. With that being said, our programs are primarily camping programs—Bring a flashlight or headlamp and clothing to be outside. 


What does the materials fee cover?

Some of courses, notably the southwest arts, have a materials fee associated with them to help cover the cost of having sufficient, high quality materials for a course of this size. In most cases, you will be able to leave the course with a basic set of tools to help you continue honing your new found skill at home. 

Where do Cottonwood Gulch staff and instructors come from?

We recruit staff nationally and while some come to us with a specific area of expertise already, others have learned a great deal about geology, archaeology, astronomy, etc. during their time in the Southwest. Each year our staff is made up of a variety of people, from enthusiastic educators in their 20s to experienced and equally energetic educators in their 70s. We perform background checks on all staff and we strive to create a comfortable and trustworthy experience for all. For adult treks, we ensure that we have a knowledgeable and helpful staff team that can make your experience not only an educational one, but an enjoyable and fun one. 

What do I bring?

For our longer, week-long treks, a specific packing list is created. Those can be found on the individual webpages. For our shorter, weekend long experiences, we have a more general packing list that can be found here. Generally speaking, you should plan to bring comfortable, closed-toe shoes; clothing to dress in layers; and a sleeping bag rated to 20 degrees. If you do not have or wish to bring a sleeping bag, we have several available for rent. 

What level of physical activity will there be?

Participants should be able to comfortably walk for at least 15 minutes at a time for any of our programs. The level of physical activity varies based on the program. For example, our Fiber Arts Weekend will have substantially less physical activity required than our Geology of Western NM program, which will have less physical activity than our Introduction to Backpacking program. Often, we do what we can to create options for those who might want more or less physical activity—We might have two hikes departing from the same trailhead, one going a mile and the other going several. If there are specific physical requirements for a course, they will be noted in the description. If you have specific concerns, please let us know. 

What is included in the cost?

All meals, all transportation beyond Albuquerque, staff and specialists, group gear necessary for expedition (tents, cooking supplies, etc.), and backcountry permits are included. Some of our adult courses have an additional materials fee to cover the supplies needed for programming.

How much camp setup/breakdown should I expect to do?

For programs at basecamp, there is no real camp setup and breakdown that needs to be done. There are cabins to sleep in and a mess hall to cook in. For programs on the road, there are tents to set up and a road kitchen to assemble. Our staff are ready and willing to set up the kitchen and assist with tents as necessary; however, if you feel inclined to help, they likely won’t say no! Because the nature of our programs on the road is “expedition style,” there are a number of camp chores that need doing and in the spirit of group expedition, helping out with dishes and other camp chores is always much appreciated!

Are the adult programs unplugged the way youth programs are?

While we do not require all adult program participants to be “unplugged” on our programs, we do encourage it—At the Gulch we believe that all participants gain a deeper connection to each other, our programs, and the land when they are present in the moment instead of engaging with technology. Additionally, cell service is not guaranteed throughout the southwest, particularly in wilderness areas. With that being said, we understand that at times you may need to “check in” and we will do our best to accommodate that.