Utah & Nevada Backpacking & Canyoneering

Leadership & Guide Training Course
(7, 12 & 24 days)





The Utah desert is one of the more remote areas in the continental United States. Between Canyonlands National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument there exists a landscape of red rock canyons, high mesas, lush river valleys and sandstone bluffs. This area offers varied terrain for exciting backpacking and technical canyoneering.

Picture friction climbing up a narrow sandstone slot as you navigate a desert canyon from top to bottom or turning a corner and finding a spring surrounded by green ferns, mosses and grasses in this arid land. The desert landscape is ideal for wilderness expeditions into the heart of canyon country.

This comprehensive backpacking and canyoneering course is the perfect setting to achieve your goals whether you are looking to become a professional guide, hone your technical abilities for personal adventures, or expand your leadership skills. It focuses on teaching students to be safe, efficient, knowledgeable and confident outdoor leaders in a winter mountain environment.

THE INSTRUCTORS AND GUIDES OF IWLS of IWLS are widely recognized as some of the very best in their field and have practical leadership experience from around the globe. They are well trained and have an uncommon enthusiasm for sharing their skill and knowledge, borne out of a passion for outdoor exploration.

The International Wilderness Leadership Schools’ educational model nurtures leadership development and creates an awareness of the guiding mentality that is essential for leading safe, fun adventures in the mountains. The combination of technical skills training, experiential education and practical leadership experience make the IWLS curriculum world class.

THE IWLS GENERAL CURRICULUM outlines the essential components for effective outdoor leadership. Here are a few points that your course will focus on.

  • Leadership: Opportunities to lead the group will be abundant and you’ll have the time to learn and practice multiple styles of leadership.
  • Natural and Cultural History: Having a strong understanding of cultural history, flora, and fauna is an integral part of leading people in an outdoor environment. You’ll learn some of the botany, ecology, and geology that apply to these remarkable areas.
  • Environmental Ethics: As adventurers in some of the most pristine environments on the planet, it is our duty to respect the natural world. All of our courses practice and teach Leave No Trace® principles.
  • Travel Techniques: Course instruction will help you discover ways to safely maximize your efficiency, whether hiking down a well-beaten path or traversing an exposed ridge.

-Eli Fierer

IWLS BACKPACKING CURRICULUM prepares students for exploration into remote, backcountry settings. Here are some points we’ll cover on your course:

  • Pre-trip Activities: Learn how to plan and prepare for an extended wilderness expedition. We’ll cover everything from technical camping equipment to group and personal expectations.
  • Stoves and Campfires: The ability to repair a broken stove, make an emergency fire after being submerged in an icy river, and melt snow efficiently for water are key components for leading a group in the wilderness.
  • River and Stream Crossings: In river crossings, attention to detail and safety are #1. You’ll learn and practice safe techniques for wading across a small stream or doing a Tyrolean traverse across a raging river.
  • Geology: From plate tectonics to granitic batholiths, you’ll learn the history of the land you are exploring and how these forces create and influence the environment around you.

EXPERIENCE LEVEL No previous experience is necessary for this course. However, with a desire to learn and an enthusiasm for adventure, you’ll develop the skills necessary for a lifetime of wilderness exploration.

CERTIFICATIONS Upon completion of the 7, 12 or 24-day course, participants may qualify for the following certifications:

7, 12 or 24 Day Certificate of Completion
International Wilderness Leadership School

DATES & PRICES Please see our schedule for current dates and price information.