The Road Less Traveled
2331 N. Elston Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
June 24 - July 8, 2018 // 15 Days
July 11 - July 25, 2018 // 15 Days
Inspiring a love for new environments and the outdoors, our middle school service-adventure program takes us throughout the American Southwest to landmark National Parks and to lend a hand and heart to make a difference in animals’ lives.
It was her first time being away from home for an extended period of time and she said it was one of her best experiences ever!” - Parent of Jacqueline W., Utah: Unleashed
Best Friends Animal Society sent their emergency response team to begin search and rescue efforts after Hurricane Harvey. They are the only national animal welfare organization focused exclusively on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. With an eye towards projects such as trail work, light landscaping, painting and maintenance of dog and cat buildings we work around the current needs of the different areas throughout the Sanctuary. Days are filled with service projects, educational talks and presentations, and hands-on activities with rescued animals (such as walking dogs, brushing cats, and giving potbellied pigs belly rubs).
We'll cool off paddle boarding, explore the surrounding trails and vistas, and gaze upward at the starry sky free of night pollution. From Zion to Bryce Canyon, and even Grand Canyon National Park, we'll experience the history, the views, and the fun adventure in these vast, wild must-see spaces and protect the lives of homeless pets — lives that matter. Together, we can save them all.
Learn more about our middle school adventure-community service program, and get ready to unleash your adventurous spirit while helping some amazing animals. Click on the Description tab below.
One of the seven natural wonders of world! Six thousand feet deep and 18 miles wide, the canyon is immense and kaleidoscopic with steep canyon walls and jutting mesas.
The ultimate places to learn about and enjoy the splendor of the night sky are far from the light pollution of civilization. In specially protected dark sky parks, the light show is quite a reward on moonless and clear nights.
A part of Navajo land, Antelope Canyon features some of the most spectacular views in the midst of smooth, curving sandstone. As we move up and down, left and right, our Navajo guide will explain the cultural significance of the stunning slot canyon. Don’t forget your camera as we enter one of the most photographed spots on our trip!
Each day more than 9,000 dogs and cats — about six per minute — are killed in animal shelters, simply because they don't have safe places to call home. Volunteers help the Best Friends Animal Society, the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, save each of those lives.
From the mammoth-tracking peoples of ancient times to tourists of today, Zion provides refuge, peace, and a sense of hope with its awe-inspiring beauty and abundance of wildlife. The magic of Zion includes dozens of waterfalls, the knife’s-edge Angels Landing trail along a serrated mountain ridge, emerald pools, and cool creeks through narrow red-rock passageways. It’s both beautiful and improbable.
Stand up paddle boarding, "SUP" for short, brings a dramatic perspective to the impressive Hoover Dam. Paddlers can explore the calm, cool waters of Lake Mead with breaks for swimming, relaxing, and taking pictures.
Some of the best panoramic views await in Bryce Canyon National Park. On clear days, the naked eye can see up to 160 miles away to the Black Mesas of Western New Mexico. Wind, water, and time have eroded the sandstone cliffs into a stunning playground for adventure.
One of the greatest engineering achievements in history, Hoover Dam sits as tall as a 60-story building. With a base as thick as two football fields, the amount of concrete used in building it is enough to pave a road stretching from San Francisco to New York City.
With nearly 1.6 million acres, the Kaibab is Arizona’s largest national forest. A plunge through the sagebrush and sweet smelling pines on the way to the north rim of the Grand Canyon often introduces visitors to antelope, mountain lions, elk, black bear, and even the precious California condor!
Estimated to be 10-15,000 years old, this giant sand box is set in paradise. Rosy buttes of sand contrast with remarkable dark-colored cliffs, sweeping hills, pinions, and ponderosa pine that pierce the skyline. Delicate white- and pumpkin-colored flowers flutter in the breeze while desert treasures are found around every dune.
Beat the heat by gaining elevation at Mt. Charleston for some day hiking. Views that remind us of Yosemite await as we venture through the great smelling pines and over the sparking granite rocks.
Environmental community service, animal care and socialization at a no-kill animal sanctuary in Angel Canyon, Kanab, Utah
A Certificate of Community Service indicating the total hours worked and a Presidential Volunteer Service Award will be issued upon successful completion of the program.
Explore: Lake Mead, Grand Canyon National Park, Antelope Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes National Park
Hike: Mt. Charleston, Horseshoe Bend and the Toadstools
Paddle Board: Lake Mead National Recreation Area
6 - 8
We stay in a private home. Bedrooms will be divided by gender and participants will sleep slumber party style – in sleeping bags, rotating available beds nightly. Showers are available; however, we shower every three to four days to conserve resources and support sustainability.
Las Vegas, NV (LAS)
Join in on the fun! Check out #UnleashedRLT for a behind-the-scenes look at photos from past participants and leaders.
We arrive in Las Vegas, Nevada, before heading out to Lake Mead National Recreation Area in the Mojave Desert. Imagine spending the day at the beach gazing at teal-blue waters – in the desert. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which occupies about 1.5 million acres and is twice the size of Rhode Island (with 820 miles of shoreline), is America's largest reservoir.
We explore the lake, visit the impressive Hoover Dam, and spot wildlife as we cool off with a swim and test our balance in stand up paddle boarding. We explore the landscape hiking down to the Colorado River before transferring to Kanab, Utah to prepare for our work with our new “Best Friends.”
The Best Friends sanctuary, known as “a place of healing,” is a refuge for nearly 2,000 homeless dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, horses, pigs, goats, mules, sheep, burros, and other wildlife. Some have health challenges and others have been neglected. We help care for these creatures while they heal and wait for the perfect home. From feeding and maintaining their shelters to providing safety, security and comfort to the animals, our days are full of magical moments, fascinating stories, and rewarding service.
In between honing our caregiving skills and veterinary practices, we dive into the incredible parks of the region, some of America’s best. Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks hold picture-perfect views and exciting trails over, under, and around Mother Nature’s sandstone sculptures. We sled down the dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, an expanse of photographic bliss. We take off our shoes to leave footprints in the orange-red sand formed by the erosion of the Navajo sandstone cliffs. Descending down into the earth, we explore sandstone slot canyons at Antelope Canyon alongside Navajo guides, hike out to Horse Shoe Bend, and play on toadstool formations.
Traveling to the legendary Grand Canyon National Park, one of the natural wonders of the world, reveals a 277-mile cross section of the Northern Arizona desert with 2 billion years of geology. The canyon stretches up to 18 miles wide and more than a mile deep from the rim to the Colorado River below.
Sharing a traditional closing feast of great food and lots of laughter, we watch the night sky come to life one last time, hoping to wish upon a shooting star before boarding flights home.
Arrive in Las Vegas, NV, and then head east to the first stop: Lake Mead.
Take a hike on the highest mountain in both the Spring Mountains and Clark County.
Explore Hoover Dam, day hike around the Colorado River that pulses through it, and paddle on the largest reservoir in the United States, which was formed by the dam.
Moving around the northern edge of the lake, transfer to Kanab, Utah and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. At the no-kill sanctuary, help care for cats, dogs, rabbits, parrots, and even pot-bellied pigs! Explore nearby Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, as well as Kanab and its neighboring desert gems like Horse Shoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.
The Grand Canyon & Final Banquet (Day 14)
At the end of service work at the sanctuary, tour through the red rocks and dazzling ravines of southern Utah. Journey south to the Grand Canyon to explore the breathtaking landscape, watch the sunset, and share in a final banquet rich in tasty treats and remarkable memories.
Back at the Las Vegas Airport, say farewells and board flights home.
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
Please click below to view your program’s equipment and packing list!
For an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST at 773-342-5200 and we’ll happily send you one!
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT provides instructions for specific arrival and departure time windows. Those details are typically released in mid-spring.
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare to get their student from home to the starting destination of Las Vegas, NV on the first day of the trip, and from the ending destination of Las Vegas, NV back home on the last day of the trip.