Trekkers on our School Groups discover a life full of adventure and curiosity, with a strong environmental ethic to boot. Spring, summer, and fall.

For the last decade, Cottonwood Gulch has been growing rapidly. Many of our trekkers, staff, and alumni don’t see a dramatic change from year to year because our summer programs, the bedrock of Cottonwood Gulch, have been strong and consistent. From 2005-2013, we have led between 130 and 160 Trekkers on expeditions each summer, meaning most of our groups are full or nearly full each year.

Big Tubes 1What summer trekkers don’t see, however, is the growth in School Treks, which has been nothing short of astonishing. In 2005 we had one or two School Treks, totaling around 75 participants for the year.  In 2013, there were 910 participants in our School Treks, and we anticipate a similar number in 2014.  Most School Treks come from New Mexico, but last year we had groups join us from as far away as New Jersey and Poland.

In other words, each year we lead over a thousand kids on wilderness expeditions. Some Trekkers spend one night with us, others spend 42, but the goals are the same for each group. We teach the basics of camping, backpacking, and environmental ethics, along with “hard skills” in science, art, and archaeology. Many groups have the opportunity to experience a culture that is decidedly different from their own–Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni. And above all, we seek to impart a spirit of adventure and inquiry in every Trekker who passes through our gate. For most kids, especially in our School Treks, the Gulch provides their only opportunity for a wilderness adventure.

As every Trekker who has climbed to the top of a mountain can attest, growth–be it personal or institutional–comes with challenges. For us, this means more complex logistics and learning how to prepare for unpredictable spring weather. Our facilities were made for summer use, so we’ve had to make some adjustments like replumbing our water system and providing big, warm sleeping bags for spring Trekkers. In 2014 we will hire more staff, purchase and rent more vehicles, and cook more food than ever before, presenting a host of logistical and maintenance challenges.

Before long we will need to expand our facilities in order to accommodate this growth, but for now we are busy making plans for the coming spring. School Treks are making the Gulch stronger, and by getting more kids outside, they help us better fulfill our mission. They have been financially beneficial as well, but more than that they give us opportunities to share our love of the outdoors, our love of science, our love of history, and our love of art with an ever greater number of young minds.


A beautiful outdoor experience awaits

A beautiful outdoor experience awaits

Our Spring 2014 Schedule:

March 26th      Montessori Middle School Land Lab 7 (Albuquerque)

Mar 27th         Montessori Middle School Land Lab 6  (Albuquerque)

April 5th          BASE CAMP OPENING


April 7-9          South Valley Prep (Albuquerque)

April 13-18?    Wounded Warriors  (National)

April 20-25      Environmental and Adventure School (Seattle, WA)

April 24-25      Rio Grande School  (Santa Fe, NM)

April 24-25      Uplift Community School   (Gallup, NM)

April 28-May 9     Montclair Cooperative School  (Montclair, NJ)

April 28-May 2     Keystone Montessori  (Phoenix, AZ)

May 2-3           Teach for America   (Gallup, NM)

May 5th           Montessori of the Rio Grande, 3rd-4th   (Albuquerque)

May 7-8?         MRG Overnight 5th  (Albuquerque)

May 6-9           The Montessori Middle School 6th  (Albuquerque)

May 13-16       Escuela del Sol Sr. Elementary   (Albuquerque)

May 14-16       Escuela del Sol Jr. Elementary    (Albuquerque)

May 19-22       Rio Grande School   (Santa Fe)

May 19-23       The Montessori Middle School 7th   (Albuquerque)

May 19-21       Mountain Mahogany  (Albuquerque)

May 24-25       Amigos  (Albuquerque)