Paleontology Trek (ages 14-18)

APPLICATIONRequest Information

Paleontology Trek (ages 14-18)

Serious Science. Seriously Cool Dinosaurs.

Unique to The Gulch, our 17 day Paleontology Trek connects Trekkers with a professional Paleontologist and his colleagues in some of New Mexico’s most exciting dig sites. Trekkers will travel to multiple active excavation sites to unearth dinosaur bones and prospect for future discoveries. Trekkers will aid expert excavation crews with their research and will learn the most up-to-date techniques for processing artifacts for local museum displays. These young paleontologists will learn basic camp-craft skills of life on the road like cooking, camp set-up, and outdoor community living. Trekkers will sleep under the stars, wake up with the sun, and experience some of the most majestic places the Southwest has to offer. Expect to receive an intimate tour of Albuquerque’s Natural History Museum, and see their impressive collection typically reserved for curators and museum staff only. Trekkers will also receive four college credits for this course! Paleontology is at the very core of this unique trek. You don’t need to know the difference between an Ornithischia and a Saurischian when you arrive; you only need to be willing and eager.


Is this trek right for me?

Paleontology is at the very core of this unique Trek. You don’t need to know the difference between an Ornithischia and a Saurischian when you arrive; you only need to be willing and eager. We work with college professors and researchers, and the conditions are often challenging; long days at the dig site, under the sun. Though the rewards immensely outweigh the challenges, Trekkers should be prepared for potentially harsh conditions. High School students who love dinosaurs, or are interested in paleontology, will thrive in this Trek.

Flexible Itinerary

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.

Apply Online for this Trek

Send me more information

Scholarship Information

*Our cancellation policy

Trek Details

Apply Online for this Trek

Send me more information



  • All Genders: Ages 14-18
  • 10-15 members
  • Cost: 
  • College Credit included
  • Dates: 2021 dates coming soon

Packing List


  • Unique, behind the scenes tour of Museum of Natural History
  • Work with a professional paleontologist on an active dig site
  • Explore sites with geological and paleontological significance
  • Hike Mount Taylor
  • 5 days at Base Camp


“Dr. Axel showed us what he’s been digging up. There were many, many bones kept under plaster and tarps. A few of us worked excavating from a spot that seemed promising. We uncovered an armor plate (osteoderm) which was very large and impressive! The others prospected and dug up Phytosaur teeth from a certain place that had many. It was quite hot, but it was really interesting to see how excavation is done.
Now we’re relaxing in the shade, drawing and talking and laughing. Michael is playing his guitar. It’s amazing how comfortable we are with each other! The people on this trek are so interesting, and I’m learning so much.”

— Michelle, ‘13 Paleontology Trek

Places We Go

Have Questions?