Mountain Desert Trek (16-18)
46 Challenging Days Immersed in the Wilderness and Culture of the Four Corners
Mountain Desert Trek is an experience unlike any other. Are you ready to spend 6 weeks backpacking through desert canyons, up mountain peaks, across rivers, and into the wilderness? Do you enjoy ghost towns, Native American cultures, local artists and musicians, service learning, and organic farming? MDT Trekkers will develop leadership skills through personal projects, planning expeditions, demonstrating expedition mentality, and communal living. Most importantly, Trekkers will learn self-reliance, compassion for their peers, and how to overcome personal challenges.
This trek is our toughest and longest expedition, but certainly the most rewarding. The MDT is for 16-18 year-olds who want to take on both physical and mental challenges. You’ll embark on three wilderness backpacking trips, pushing your physical limits. You’ll also take on mental challenges: ecological restoration, construction projects, and unique art projects. Trekkers live and work and play in a small group of peers for the duration of this trek, which is an entirely different kind of challenge. Many potential Trekkers and families have apprehensions regarding the length of this group; however, the length of this trek is precisely the thing that makes this experience so rewarding.
Is this Trek right for me?
This Trek is our toughest and longest expedition, but certainly the most rewarding. The MDT is for 16-18-year-olds who want to take on both physical and mental challenges. You’ll embark on three wilderness backpacking trip, pushing your physical limits. You’ll also take on mental challenges: ecological restoration, construction projects, and unique art projects. Trekkers live and work and play in a small group of peers for the duration of this Trek, which is an entirely different kind of challenge. When you get back home, you’ll understand that the challenge was worth it. Many Trekkers come away with lifelong friends.
Many potential Trekkers and families have apprehensions regarding the length of this group. The length of this Trek is precisely the thing that makes this experience so rewarding.
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.
Consider adding Trekker spending money when you register (to use for gifts, souvenirs, and trinkets to remember their experience). Trekkers are also responsible for providing personal belongings outlined in the packing list for their chosen expedition.
For more logistical questions, visit our FAQ page, or give us a call: 505-248-0563.
- Explore White Sands National Monument
- Backpack in Guadelupe Mountains National Park
- Spelunk in Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- Backpack in the San Juan National Forest
- Backpack in Zion National Park
- Explore Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah’s mushroom rocks
- Service project to conserve wildlife and public lands
“The length is just right. I would say that even though it sounds like a really long time it flies by fast and the experience is much richer and deeper for being so long.”