Prairie Trek Itinerary

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Prairie Trek Itinerary in one page

Wilderness Adventure: Two backpacks through the remote wilderness of New Mexico; Rock Climbing; Rappelling

New Mexico is the 5th largest state in the country, with a population that is smaller than Brooklyn. That means if you are looking to explore remote wilderness, this is the place.  The 2014 Prairie Trek will embark on two backpacks: a 4-day excursion through one of the most rarely visited places in the country: the Apache Kid Wilderness in central New mexico, and a 5-day trek through the majestic Pecos Wilderness that overlooks the city of Santa Fe. You will also have a chance to climb and rappel from glorious red rock walls with our resident climbing instructor.  Throughout these adventures you will summit mountain peaks, eat the tastiest burritos imaginable over your camp stoves, and learn how to live comfortably and confidently in the wilderness.

24 Days on the Road

More Than Backpacking: Bat Caves, Ancient Ruins, Ghost Towns, Astronomical Observatory, Geology

This is an Expedition, not just a backpacking trip.  In addition to two challenging backpacks, the PT will visit several of our friends around the state of New Mexico.  This includes a former trekker and current Ranger at El Malpais, where you will venture into pitch-black lava tube caves; professional archaeologists and geologists who will let you explore the history of New Mexico with your own hands; and astronomers and pie bakers who will feed you delicious food while regaling you with stories of what it’s like to live in rural New Mexico.   Expect a stop or two at Ghost Towns and modern towns like Taos and Window Rock.


“Being in a non-co-ed expedition created a really tight bond between us.  With no social pressures from trying to woo the ladies it allowed everyone to be themselves.” 

12 Days at the Cottonwood Gulch Base Camp: Create your own Legacy Project

Are you one of those people who needs to get your hands dirty in order to learn?  This is more than just your typical summer of arts & crafts or guided horseback rides.  This is a chance to connect with the Southwest through experiential education–our culture, art, history, and the natural world.  The PT will spend 12 days at the Gulch Base Camp with our resident artist, archaeologist, naturalist, and farmer.  Each of them specialize in the Southwest and will reveal the magic behind this landscape of red rocks, hidden springs, and mountain peaks.  They will help you to investigate one or two of the following areas in depth.



Experience Native American Culture

Cottonwood Gulch was virtually co-founded by Grandpa Tom Henio, a Navajo man whose family is still deeply connected to the Gulch.  Many of Grandpa Tom’s relatives and friends live nearby, and you will have the unique opportunity to take part in this historic relationship by living with a local Navajo, Hopi, Apache, or Zuni family and engaging in activities like rebuilding a Hogan, constructing a new fence for horses, or restoring an eroded riparian ecosystem.  Even more important than the work is the chance to learn about an entirely new culture firsthand, a truly irreplaceable experience that will stick with you well beyond your time at the Gulch.

073Discover a Love for Ecology, Archaeology, Art 

The PT is about experiential learning.  Expect to clamber over lava rocks in search of bat guano, stomping through creeks and overturning rocks, catching as many lizards as you can, and staring slack-jawed at herds of elk and mountain goats in the mountain forests of New Mexico.  We explore the natural world by getting our hands dirty.  Often this is with a goal in mind–we are continually assessing the health of our forests and streams, or searching for new archaeological artifacts, and in the PT you will contribute to this knowledge while learning more than you’ll realize.  The really amazing part of this experience is that as you explore ecology, archaeology, or art, you’ll discover the nuanced beauty of the Southwest with your own hands, and you’ll return home with newfound interests and energy.  This is a step toward becoming a lifelong learner.

Volunteer Work? Service Projects? Yes, but we don’t call it that

The Prairie Trek engages in several projects that we could easily define as “service,” but we don’t call it that.  Since 1926, we have built strong ties with neighbors, friends, and families throughout the Four Corners states.  We consider this entire network across the Southwest our community and we place a high value on contributing work to make it a better one.  When expeditions visit our friends on the Navajo Reservation or the Zuni, Acoma or Hopi pueblos, a portion of the visit is usually spent helping to construct a new hogan, repair a fence line, or prepare for a kinaalda ceremony.  These same families often visit us at base camp to share their skills and history with us.  Similarly, expeditions may work with the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, or Park Service to improve and maintain trails and campsites, gaining access to restricted or otherwise hard-to-find areas.  Trekkers learn how to work with their hands in order to give back to the community.

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