Ways You Can Take A More Sustainable Vacation

In celebration of Earth Day, let’s visit the impact that our vacations have on our environment. Not only do we leave a carbon footprint everywhere we go, but also, we sometimes forget about what the world around us offers, such as natural wonders and marvelous views. There are several ways that you too can make your vacation a more sustainable one.

While many people wish to take cars, planes, and cruise ships when they travel, there are other options out there that can help us to reduce the impact these methods of travel have on the environment. For example, instead of flying or driving, taking the train is a more eco-friendly way to travel.

Another great way to see some of the most beautiful places on Earth is to backpack or take a bike tour. Not only are you limiting your carbon footprint, but you are also able to experience the best of what nature offers firsthand. Most National and State Parks offer hiking and biking trails for beginners, as well as those looking for a challenge.

Another more sustainable way to vacation is by visiting your local State and National Parks. Not only do these parks offer wildlife, views, and nature, but it is also an excellent way to forget about the technological world we live in for a while and experience spending quality time with your family and friends, all the while getting the opportunity to sleep under the stars.

While sustainable travel may not be readily available to you, it is always a good idea to consider your options while planning your vacation.

Wilderness Adventures is dedicated to teaching our students a more sustainable way to experience the great outdoors. Visit us to see all of our teen adventure camps that we have to offer today.

Categories: Bike, Camp, Classic Adventures, Community Service Adventures, Discovery Trips, Hike, Outdoor Education, Outdoor Learning, Summer Camps, Sustainable Travel, Teen Adventure, Teen Adventure Camps, Teen Summer Camps, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Are You Looking For A Wilderness Challenge?

Discovering the great outdoors can be fun and exciting for any age. That’s why we at Wilderness Adventures have come up with a wilderness challenge for every type of adventurer. From easy, to moderate, to challenging, we are proud to offer students a once-in-a-lifetime wilderness challenge specific to their skill levels.

Are You Looking For A Wilderness Challenge?

Discovery Adventures- These adventure trips are the perfect way for students finishing the 6th grade to explore the great outdoors and all the adventures that await them. From Yellowstone, to the Blue Ridge Mountains, there is an adventure to help build character and confidence.

Classic Adventures- These adventure trips are perfect for both beginner and the more seasoned adventurers. With these 2-3 week long trips, students will learn a variety of outdoor skills, as well as get the opportunity to camp in the wilderness every night. From the Hawaiian Islands, to New England, there is exciting adventure waiting for you.

Leadership Adventures- These adventure trips are designed for high school aged students that wish to be challenged. Not only are they given an opportunity for more decision-making, but they are also building great leadership skills. From Alaska College, to the High Sierra, there are many adventures to help you become a more accomplished adventurer.

International Adventures- These adventure trips are ideal for high school students who wish to gain a more global perspective of some of the most magnificent places around the world. In addition to an amazing outdoor adventure, students will also have the opportunity to perform services to the communities they visit. From Kilimanjaro, to Australia, there is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure waiting for you.

Community Service Adventures- These adventure trips are perfect for those high school students who wish to serve communities domestic and abroad. In addition to the many community service hours, these adventure trips will offer an opportunity to create meaningful bonds through cultural immersion. From Thailand, to Alaska, there is a community waiting for your lending hand.

To see a full listing of our wilderness adventure trips, visit Wilderness Adventures today!

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Historic Málaga and Southern Spain

by: Michaela Barnett

Michaela, our esteemed author, soaks up some rays on the catamaran.

Michaela, our esteemed author, soaks up some rays on a  catamaran during the Spain Language program.

Thanks to veteran leader Michaela Barnett for being our guest-contributor! Read on to find out more about beautiful Málaga and the incredible places you’ll visit on our Spain Language program. 


Local malagueños call the cathedral of Málaga “La Manquita,” the One-Armed Lady, because the southern tower, 130 feet shorter than its twin, looks like a lopped off stub. Malagueños will eagerly tell visiting Americans why, after almost five hundred years, the cathedral remains unfinished: construction funds were donated to the patriot cause during the American Revolution to help beat Spain’s rival, Great Britain. And, in the relaxed attitude typical to Southern Spain, after five centuries they haven’t yet decided whether or not to finish it.

On the Spain Language trip, you’ll walk some of the same streets as Christopher Columbus in Sevilla, explore the Alhambra (a stunning palace complex in the ‘Pomegranate City’ of Granada) and become a modern-day link in the chain that has connected Spain and the Americas for centuries. On this side of the world, we consider 1492 to be important because it marks the encounter between the Old World and the New: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue . . .” In Spain, the unification of two kingdoms and the final expulsion of Muslim rule from the South prompted the Spanish monarchs to fund a relatively unknown Italian explorer, known in Spanish as Cristobál Colón.

In Málaga, your home base for the summer, a twenty-minute stroll on cobblestoned sidewalks can carry you through over 2,000 years of history. From the cathedral, you can easily walk to Roman theatre remains from the 1st century where plays are still performed. Or, you can tour the Alcazaba, a stunning Moorish fortress built in the 11th century and a remnant of the Arabic cultural traditions, architecture, and language that still permeates Andalusia and Málaga today. An Islamic Empire ruled in Spain for over 700 years, from the 8th to 15th centuries, and this heritage is nowhere more apparent than in southern Spain. For a tradition that began in the 18th century, visit the Plaza de Toros where classically dressed matadors still fight bulls with swords and red capes.

On the trip, you’ll enjoy the sunshine and white sand beaches while you surf at Tarifa, the southernmost tip of Europe that divides the Atlantic and Mediterranean. No trip to Spain is complete without a visit to Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya and the cosmopolitan epicenter of Spain where you’ll stroll along Las Ramblas, visit Gaudi’s famous cathedral, and explore the narrow streets of the Gothic neighborhood.

Málaga rests on the Costa del Sol, the Sun Coast, a region of Andalusia that well deserves its name. After class, afternoons will be spent enjoying sunny beaches, visiting the famous Nerja caves, learning new salsa moves, and, of course, enjoying famous fried churros and hot chocolate! Not only can it boast of being the birthplace of iconic painter Pablo Picasso (with a museum in his childhood home) and actor Antonio Banderas, Málaga is home to a rich history, warm beaches, cuisine caught fresh from the sea, and some of the friendliest Spaniards you can ever encounter.


Some fun on a lake in El Chorro!

Some fun on a lake in El Chorro!

The group takes a day trip to El Chorro, to go on a dayhike and take a dip in the blue-green waters.

The group takes a day trip to El Chorro, to go on a dayhike and take a dip in the blue-green waters.

On the beach... with the mountains of Morocco in the distance.

On the beach… with the mountains of Morocco in the distance.

The group learns to cook paella... and then enjoys the fruit of their labor!

The group learns to cook paella… and then enjoys the fruit of their labor!

WA ladies posing in front of the port of Malaga.

WA ladies posing in front of the port of Malaga.

Trying on some fashionable headwear in the streets of Malaga!

Trying on some fashionable headwear in the streets of Malaga!

The Moroccan quarter of Granada

The Moroccan quarter of Granada

A group posing in front of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

A group posing in front of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

The group strolls through downtown Malaga on an afternoon after class.

The group strolls through downtown Malaga on an afternoon after class.

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How Wilderness Adventures Gives Back

We here at Wilderness Adventures understand the importance of giving back to our land and communities in which we visit. That is why we have not only made it of great importance and dedication that we focus on how we can help serve our communities during every single one of our adventure trips, but we also make it critical that we leave a minimal impact on the land and our environment.

Sustainable Travel

Whether we are visiting Yellowstone, Costa Rica, or Thailand, we are dedicated to teaching our students about the importance of sustainable travel, showing them how to use resources to travel such as in boats, by foot, or by traveling in smaller groups. We promise to support the local communities and economies that we travel to by ensuring that we are reducing our carbon footprint.

Zero Impact Camping

It is critical to ensure that we are sensitive to the impact we have on our environments with our adventure trips. For this reason, we are committed to practicing zero impact camping, leaving the rare and unique places we visit just the same as they were before we were there.

Community Service

We feel that it is important for our students to be offered with opportunities to form meaningful bonds within the communities we visit. From maintaining trails, to building schools, to improving habitats for wildlife, our students will learn the value of sustainable and meaningful service work.

Wilderness Adventures is also committed to supporting a wide variety of organizations that support the sustainability of the environment, such as The National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society, and the World Wildlife Fund.

If you are interested in giving back by attending one of our wilderness adventure programs, then visit us today!

Categories: Community Service Adventures, Leadership Adventures, Summer Camps, Sustainable Travel, Teen Adventure, Teen Adventure Camps, Teen Summer Camps, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

And the Winner is… Stephanie Stephens!

Congratulations, Stephanie, on being our first-place winner! Your prizes are in the mail today! Thanks so much for sharing your work with us. Your essay does an excellent job of describing the Wilderness Adventures experience and we loved reading it. We hope you continue to share your experience of growth and adventure with others, instilling a desire and love for exploration with everyone around you!

Stephanie was a student on Northwest and Montana Wyoming. It was on her Montana Wyoming trip that she had the awesome and once-in-a-lifetime experience of climbing the Grand Teton. We bet this is just the beginning of Stephanie’s mountaineering career….

Stephanie stands on top of the Grand Teton.

Stephanie stands proudly atop the Grand Teton

Summiting the Grand

To me, where the wind whips and whistles, is the quietest place on Earth. At 13,776 feet above sea level, the Teton Wilderness’s highest point is an exhilarating accumulation of boulder and stone. Above is a limitless ceiling of only thick blue atmosphere, and below, the extensive stretch of the vast world. The summit of the Grand Teton may be just a location, but it now enjoys a permanence in my persona. I lived the mountain’s peak for a brief fifteen minutes, and it was worth every bit of the two days it took to scale it. For every one of its guests, the summit is an introspective, empowering, and liberating experience. Ultimately, I found the Teton’s summit to be the most rewarding and humbling corner I will ever discover.

After waking up in the blind of the night at 3 am, I lifted myself out of my sleep, packed up my gear, and trekked up the steep ridge of the mountain’s saddle with nowhere to look except the tunnel of vision my headlamp could manage. For the following four hours, I scrambled, more and more fatigued, up the unyielding face of the mountain, crawling and clambering every step of the way. My bones shook and shivered from the icy air that shocked my body at each rest stop. The wind was violent, powerfully pushing me off my feet and sending me backwards as if I were weightless. As I questioned my limits and potential, the climb became a mental feat, rather than a physical one. To take in my surroundings and see the immense size and authority of the Grand Teton unsettled me and made me doubt my own abilities. My body wanted to retreat, but my will wanted to advance. After a few moments of self-reflection, I began to comprehend that the most strenuous efforts come with the most gracious return.

My journey was the most difficult task I have ever undertaken, but I was not alone in my labor. Bounded by thick rope, three boys, our guide, and I moved up the mountain as one solid unit instead of as individuals. Victory that morning was more gratifying knowing that what got us up there was pure teamwork. Climbing as a single body, we worked in tandem with each other, supporting and buttressing our team members during the entirety of the ascent, and rock wasn’t our only obstacle. The altitude took its toll as two of my team members began to feel light-headed and weak. Sharing a common goal, we encouraged and lifted each other’s spirits, knowing that we were not alone in our exhausted states. In the end, synergy and cooperation was what truly propelled us up the face of the Teton.

Atop the summit, I was staggered to realize how alive I felt. This energized feeling wasn’t just a runner’s high. I felt attentive and incredibly aware of my own consciousness. The mountain in no way belittled me; instead, it made me feel larger than life. Well aware of where I stood, I realized I had the power to accomplish extraordinary things and affect the world around me, and this realization ignited a confidence that still stands strong today. This heart-racing sensation was breath-taking and humbling. Surrounded by a mosaic of earth, light, and air thinner than hair, the Teton’s summit is where I felt most at peace with not only the world but, more significantly, with myself.

Now, the Grand Teton is as rooted in my identity as it is to the earth beneath it. Arlene Blum, a mountaineer and writer I admire, once said “You never conquer a mountain. You stand on the summit for a few brief moments and then the wind blows away your footprints.” My mark on the Grand Teton ended the moment I stepped down its ridge, but the mark the mountain branded in me will surely last my lifetime.

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2015 Alumni Essay Contest Second Place Winner!


The second-place winner of this year’s alumni essay contest is Ian Wilkinson! Ian was a student on both the Colorado Utah and Yellowstone Teton Service trips. Thanks so much for sharing your work with us, Ian!

Ian's Yellowstone Teton Service Group

Ian’s Yellowstone Teton Service Group

Ian's shot of Mt. Sheridan in Wyoming...using his (gasp) disposable camera!

Ian’s shot of Mt. Sheridan in Wyoming


“The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness”

- John Muir

      As I stood at the edge of a path in the woods, wielding an intimidating pickaxe, I gazed up at the sky and smiled. That smile summed up every emotion that was coursing through my body. I found myself in a state of bliss. My companions and I had just finished constructing a new section of trail in Wyoming, beginning a three week service and camping trip. While we took a short break, a hiker approached our group and said nothing but a simple “thank you.” What struck me was not what she said, but the manner in which she said it, bestowing meaning and value upon our work. The weeks we spent outdoors, the dozens of hours of service we performed, and the sore muscles were worth it. I began to realize the true significance of volunteering and community service.

Several days passed. I zipped up my jacket and pulled my arms in tightly as the wind whipped around me, nearly knocking me down. Trudging up the mountain through an icy patch of snow, my body recoiled in a sudden panic when a loose rock slid out from underneath my boot and tumbled down the slope. Finally reaching the summit, I discovered the most gorgeous view I’ve ever seen. The sky, a clear, crystal blue with only a few clouds in the distance, offered an exquisite panorama of the shimmering lake, endless forests and rolling hills. As I stood there, speechless, surrounded by the peacefulness, beauty, and importance of nature, I realized that I want to work to preserve what I have seen, so that others can have incredible wilderness experiences to call their own.

One week later, my legs shook and my hands grew sweaty as I clenched onto the damp, jagged rock. I pressed my body as tightly as I could against the face of the rock, not willing to move a muscle. Though I was completely secured, horrifying images of impending death flooded through my mind. I needed to stretch myself across a crevasse between two large rocks and pull myself onto the far side. Summoning more courage than I knew I had, I took a leap, and nearly threw myself onto the other rock. I scrambled onto the flat area and sat down. Breathing a heavy sigh of relief, I laughed to myself as I realized what I had just done. I had accomplished something that I was terrified to do and would have never done before. Now, I use that moment to encourage myself to do what I previously thought impossible.

The high-pitched hum grew to a loud roar as the plane ascended off the tarmac. I smiled to myself once more and reflected upon the lifetime of experiences I had in three short weeks. Those experiences guided me through a journey within myself to discover a universe of knowledge: the value of service, the importance of our natural world, and my own true courage.


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2015 Alumni Essay Contest Third Place Winner!

The third-place winner of our 2015 Alumni Essay Contest is… Morgan Monz! Morgan was a student on Washington Mountaineering and Grand Teton, and was a leader this past summer on both the Montana Fly Fishing and Yellowstone Wilderness trips. Morgan wrote this essay after her trip as a student in 2007 and dug it up just for us. Thanks, Morgan, for sharing your awesome essay with us!

Sunrise on Yellowstone Lake

Sunrise on Yellowstone Lake

Awake at last

There are things in life that we take for granted. We are all guilty of it. Sometimes we become so absorbed in something that we forget how to live in the moment, how to appreciate the simple things and people that shape our lives. It is easy to lose sight of what really matters, but every now and then, these seemingly simple moments in time can be the ones that ground us.

5:00 am: drifting out into the vastness of Yellowstone Lake I could feel the crusty remnants of sleep around my eyes. My hands were frozen to the ice painted paddle, and the crisp air bit my cheeks. I squinted intently trying to bring the shadows embedded in the morning haze into focus, but I could barely make out the blurred silhouettes of the neighboring kayaks. No one was awake enough to talk, but the occasional paddle shattered the glassy water as it dipped into the surface, reminding me that I was not alone.

The early hours made it nearly impossible for my brain tell my aching muscles and blistered hands to propel the kayak forwards, so I let my head fall back on my shoulders and I drifted. As the kayak rocked gently in the water, I watched stars fade while the beginnings of dawn washed over like a blanket tucking them away. I could hear branches breaking on a nearby shore hinting that life was waiting close by. Shivers crept up my spine as the sound of a howling wolf traveled past me in the wind, beckoning for morning light.

The birds knew it first, and they began to chirp softly, warming up their voices for what was about to come, so I lifted my head back into position to face the rising sun. It began to peek out from behind a tall mountain in the distance. Shy at first, the initial rays danced on my icy cheeks, and my body began to tingle as warmth flooded in. Stronger, it rose lighting a fire in the sky and chasing off the darkness with brilliant colors. I could feel my eyes widen in awe. The kayaks were glistening as the frost melted down the sides racing to join the lake, and trees along the shore stood taller, basking as they were highlighted by the new day. The lake was clear and flat, broken only by the occasional radial waves of fish coming up to feed. And I sat there in my kayak, unable to move, unable to think, and completely absorbed by the most natural phenomenon: the awakening of the world how it was meant to be.

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Lobbying for Wilderness Access

This February, our director Mike Cottingham met with the Wyoming Delegation in Washington, D.C. on behalf of America Outdoors Association. The meetings focused on expanding access on federal lands for the outfitting industry and simplifying the permitting process for all outfitters.

Mike and Co

Pictured from left to right: Wyoming senator John Barasso, Mike Cottingham, director/owner of Wilderness Adventures, Aaron Bannon, public lands director for NOLS, and Wyoming senior senator, Mike Enzi.

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How Hiking Is Good For Your Health

Hiking is perhaps one of the most rewarding outdoor activities. Not only are hikers often rewarded with incredible views and the chance to be at one with nature, but they are also rewarded with exercise.

Here are several reasons why hiking is good for your health:

  • Hiking improves cardio-respiratory fitness in your lungs, heart, and blood vessels.
  • Hiking improves muscle strength.
  • Hiking improves bone density, and slows down bone density loss.
  • Hiking lowers the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.
  • Hiking lowers the risk of colon, breast, lung, and endometrial cancers.
  • Hiking helps sleep quality.
  • Hiking lowers the risk of depression, as well as tension and anxiety.
  • Hiking lowers the risk of the effects of osteoporosis and arthritis.
  • Hiking aids in weight control, since hiking burns on average between 250-350 calories per hour, depending on the activity level.
  • Hiking lowers the risk of early death (based on a study in which a person that is active 7 hours a week, risk of early death is decreased by 40%, compared to a person who is only active 30 minutes a week).
  • Hiking works almost every part of your body, including your mind.

It is important to remember that all of this cannot be achieved without 150 minutes of exercise each week.

Whether it is in your neighborhood, at a local forest reserve, or in the mountains, there is a hike waiting for you!

If you like to explore the great outdoors, Wilderness Adventures has the perfect adventure trip waiting for you! Visit us to see a full listing of our teen adventure camps today!

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What Kind Of An Adventurer Are You?

For more than 40 years, Wilderness Adventures has been specializing in teen adventure camps. From Classic Adventures, to our Community Services Adventures, we offer a variety of teen adventures for any type of adventurer. So, what kind of an adventurer are you?

Discovery Adventures- These adventures, designed for students completing 6th grade, are the ideal adventures for beginners. With these trips, adventurers will be introduced to activities such as hiking, sea kayaking, and surfing, giving them a better understanding of what outdoor adventuring is all about.

Classic Adventures- These adventures, which are ideal for students that are completing 7th grade through 12th grade, offers adventurers a variety of outdoor experiences, helping them learn new outdoor skills as well. From Alaska, to Hawaii, there is a destination for everyone.

Leadership Adventures- From Mount Rainier, to the Yellowstone Wilderness, these more challenging adventures are for students completing 9th grade and up, providing them with opportunities for extended wilderness experiences.

International Adventures- These adventures are perfect for students that wish to experience beautiful destinations around the world. For students completing 7th grade through the 12th grade, these trips allow students gain a better global perspective.

Community Service Adventures- These adventures allow students to help others in communities that are in need. From Alaska to Peru, students that are completing 9th through the 12th grade will learn about sustainability, as well as more about the communities they will be helping.

Wilderness Adventures is sure to have the perfect adventure for you. Visit us to see a complete listing of our adventure programs today.

Categories: Classic Adventures, Community Service Adventures, International, Introductory Adventures, Leadership Adventures, Outdoor Education, Outdoor Learning, Summer Camps, Teen Adventure, Teen Adventure Camps, Teen Summer Camps, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off