Education: University of Montana
Working: Outdoor Photographer and Baker
Medical Certification: Wilderness First Responder
Number of Summers Leading in Colorado for RLT: 5
June 24 - July 6, 2019
June 28- July 10, 2019
July 9 - July 21, 2019
Certain moments in life should be remembered forever. 5280' or Mille Passuum (In Latin, pronounced ME-lay PA-soo-um) is one of them. The 5280’ middle school community service trip and wolf conservation program, named for Denver's elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level, is one of The Road Less Traveled’s most diverse introductory middle school summer programs. It’s designed especially for students ages 12-14. From the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness to the Great Sand Dunes National Monument, we explore all the best of Colorado hiking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and challenge ourselves on the high sky-high aerial course.
Every day felt like an adventure and it definitely is an experience that I'll never forget.” - Kathy F., Colorado: 5280
It's not all adventure. We also visit a diary farm and volunteer at Mission: Wolf, a sanctuary in southern Colorado – one of our favorite places. Here we lend a hand to the staff and improve the lives of these majestic creatures.
Keep scrolling to learn more about our middle school summer program that combines a passion for service and a love of animals with a desire to spend a summer making a difference in the beautiful Wild West!
For this magical experience, we wake up to wolf howls, do meaningful work, and watch the sun set over the 14,000-foot peaks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. And we discover that looking into the eyes of a wolf is indescribable!
Great Sand Dunes National Park is probably the most unexpected natural wonder in Colorado. Thirty square miles of vast rolling sand dunes are perfect for testing sand-boarding and sand-sledding skills.
Rafting through Brown’s Canyon is a thrilling introduction to Colorado adventure. Don’t let the views distract you as you navigate around boulders, over falls, and through famous rapids such as Zoom Flume, Big Drop, and the Toilet Bowl.
#4 Cottonwood Pass
Cottonwood Pass on the Continental Divide follows the Taylor River to Almont where the Sawatch Range lines the west side of the Arkansas River Valley. High peaks soar to meet the clouds and sky, stretching almost 100 miles.
Between the famous Brown’s Canyon Wilderness Area and the towering 14,000-foot peaks of the Sawatch Range, five crags of exceptional guided rock climbing await all ages and abilities, no experience necessary!
Claiming 19 of the state's 54 “fourteeners” (peaks over 14,000 feet high), including Colorado's highest point, Mount Elbert, San Isabel is at the core of America’s natural riches. We learn how this treasure is threatened by unprecedented challenges.
This amazing course above the Lost Canyon is full of interconnected elements such as swinging bridges, swinging logs, cargo nets, balance beams, and tunnels.
Nestled in a beautiful river valley at the foot of the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Peaks, this family-owned, sustainable farm cares lovingly for their goats and makes award-winning cheese.
A must do: The hot springs pools are in the middle of the cool rushing waters of Chalk Creek. Fed by its own natural geothermal hot spring, it bubbles up into the creek bed for a good warm soak in the wild.
Environmental Community Service, wolf conservation at Mission: Wolf refuge and Organic Farm
A Certificate of Community Service indicating total hours worked and a Presidential Volunteer Service Award will be issued upon successful completion of the program.
Whitewater Raft: Arkansas River
Hike: Great Sand Dunes National Park, Cottonwood Pass
Rock Climb: San Isabel National Forest
Aerial Course: San Isabel National Forest
Visit: Goat Dairy Farm; Organic Farm
Swim: Princeton Hot Springs
We sleep in tents, shower about every three to five days, and use latrines or flush toilets as bathrooms.
Join in on the fun! Check out #5280RLT for a behind-the-scenes look at photos from past participants and leaders.
We meet and greet one another in the Mile High City of Denver before heading off to Great Sand Dunes National Park, one of the top outdoor and adventure spots in the western United States.
Here we acclimatize and explore the park’s 39 miles of trackless sand at the edge of the snow-topped Rocky Mountains. After a day of saucer-riding down the golden sand dunes, we move south to spend four days volunteering at Mission: Wolf, a peaceful sanctuary in the mountains.
Here we have the opportunity to learn about the wolves and possibly even come face to face with them in a safe environment. Gazing into their untamed yellow eyes, we are moved with compassion and respect. Each night as the sun sets, we fall asleep to the howls of these magnificent creatures.
From Mission: Wolf, we move on to the upper Arkansas River Valley and the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area. This region has few rivals. Wide, U-shaped valleys open up onto breathtaking mountain scenery. Dozens of lakes sparkle at the feet of striking rocky cirques and amazing, glacier-sculpted high mountain beauty. The area is home to the Arkansas River and from the riverbed we can see how time and the elements have shaped the earth.
We break out our paddles and rafts and roll down the Arkansas – a wild ride of pour-overs, standing waves, sharp turns, and narrow chutes that soak us all with exhilaration. The next day is spent flying high through 66 unique challenges suspended alongside the Arkansas River on an aerial adventure course.
We head to San Isabel National Forest to learn the basics of rock climbing: ropes, knots, and belaying. Before our journey ends, we take time to immerse ourselves in Native American hot springs, explore the local ranching culture, and hike the Continental Divide.
We enjoy our last moments together sharing a hearty meal and memories as the sunlight paints the peaks above us in brilliant shades of red and orange, and then say goodbye.
From Denver, CO, head out to the first stop, Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Explore some of the tallest dunes in North America, just over 750 feet high. Hike up and down through the small valleys and up the hills to reach Star Dune (the highest). From the top comes the fun part: sledding back down!
Depart for Mission: Wolf in the morning and, upon arrival, get acquainted with the wolves. Projects include building fire bunkers, rebuilding wolf enclosures, cutting firewood, making repairs to the staff’s housing, repairing the enclosures, and helping out at the farm. Part of the experience will include learning about the wolves and having a chance of socializing with the ambassador wolves.
Depart from Mission: Wolf. Head north to Buena Vista to begin the next adventure: rafting down Class 3 and 4 rapids through Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River. The next day, harness up for a high aerial course over the river. Final day of adventure is spent trying out basic rock climbing in San Isabel National Forest.
Spend a day lending a hand at an organic farm and goat dairy farm. Learn about the ranching culture and how these fascinating animals are raised and cared for.
Soak in hot springs, hike the Continental Pass on the Continental Divide Trail. Prepare a final banquet and spend the last evening together before heading home.
Homeward Bound (Day 13):
Return to civilization.
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 on the first day of the trip, and from the ending destination back home on the last day of the trip.