**Available for Summer 2021 pending travel and border restrictions. 

The United States is, in many ways, a country unlike any other, and this experiential travel program offers an amazing immersion into the mountains and deserts of its majestic wild west.

It combines wilderness projects in diverse reserves; outdoor expeditions including backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, yoga and mountain biking; and educational adventure travel through the west's stunning mountain, forest and desert environments.

Facilitated by our supportive and experienced Program Instructors, this is an excellent opportunity for students wanting to develop personal and leadership skills, have new experiences and challenge themselves, be immersed in unique environments and learn about sustainability - not to mention, have an insane amount of fun!

The program is open to high school graduates, university students and graduates, ideally 18 – 24 years. Optional transferable academic credit is available to all participants.

While travelling domestically may look a little different from Pacific Discovery's other programs, our program design remains unchanged.

The Best of the West Summer program is a journey of discovery, where students are immersed in a facilitated learning environment, designed to maximize the educational and life-skills potential. Students are regularly encouraged to reflect and think about their values, goals, and what they wish to gain from the program experience and from their lives in general. It’s time to explore our own backyard, and there’s a lot of it!

  • Program orientation in Palm Springs, CA
  • Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, CA
  • Step into the wilderness and learn survival skills in Tucson, AZ
  • Practice leadership and development in student led section between Sedona, Arizona and Park City, Utah
  • Test your balance and strength on the mat on the water during a yoga retreat in Park City, UT
  • Discover the magic of the Grand Tetons during a partnership with the Teton Science School
  • Hike to see Old Faithful up close in Yellowstone NP
  • Multi day rock climbing expedition in Whitefish, MT
  • Epic kayaking trip in San Juan Islands, WA
  • Program wrap in Orcas, WA
  • Small group experience with qualified and knowledgeable instructors

Day 1 - 3. Orientation: Palm Springs, CA

You can fly or drive to join this program - our private transportation will arrange to pick you up at LAX Airport. Regardless of how you arrive at the starting point, you’ll be met by your awesome Program Instructors and transferred to our group’s private accommodation for an in-depth 3-day program orientation to focus on getting to know each other and create a positive and reflective group culture to support us in realizing our program goals.

Day 4 - 5. Hiking: Joshua Tree National Park, CA

If you don’t know, now you know. The Dali-like imagery of Joshua Tree makes our very own planet feel somehow warped and disoriented. From the massive boulders to the trees – each with branch shapes as unique as a thumbprint – we will have the opportunity to meditate among the madness as we spend our time hiking throughout its many trails and our evenings camping under the night's sky, accompanied by the Joshua Trees that surround us. 

Day 6 – 9: Survival Skills: Tucson and Sedona, AZ

What would you do if you found yourself lost in the desert, the mountains, or any number of beautiful, yet potentially dangerous environments? Would you know how to make the things that you need directly from the natural environment? Well over the next few days we’re going to learn! We’re set spend 2 days learning the basic wilderness survival skills, and test ourselves out in the open. These days will be spend challenging yourself and each other, and ultimately creating strong bonds with your teammates that will last a lifetime.

On to Sedona, which is most commonly – and appropriately – linked to its iconic red rocks. To discover the red rocks is to get a deeper understanding of the spirituality that resides in this unique destination. Renowned for its vortexes – identified locations that hold powerful and transformational energy centres – Sedona has long been a sacred site for the region’s inhabitants.

Day 10 - 13. Self-Led days

Pacific Discovery’s self-led weeks have long been ingrained in our company’s DNA. We truly believe in the amount of learning and growth our students experience throughout our semester programs, and this week puts that to the test. You will be handed over the reins to work collaboratively as a group and determine how you want to get from Sedona, Arizona to our next destination: Park City, Utah.

There are various routes but It’s up to you – and the budget you’re given – to figure it all out!

Day 14 - 16. Yoga Retreat: Park City, UT

Once we make it to Park City, you’ll get straight on your bike and start getting 

adventurous! We’ll spend our first day exploring our new habitat by bike, guided by fully qualified instructors who will share their local knowledge and give you a first-hand experience of the area. Once we’ve got the blood pumping a little bit and are feeling comfortable in our new surroundings, we’ll start exploring all the various ways one can practice the art of yoga, from introductory classes to paddle boards to connecting with yourself deep in nature. It will be a wonderfully resetting experience!

Day 16- 20. Grand Tetons & Yellowstone NP: WY

These few days are going to feel like you’ve been transported from our wondrous planet earth to a galaxy far far away. We’ll spend a full day exploring the majesty of the Grand Tetons, where we’ll get to learn about all the different ongoing environmental initiatives with the Teton Science School. Next we’ll continue onto Yellowstone National Park where we will spend a couple of days exploring the trails and get up close and personal with Old Faithful.

Day 21 – 23. Rock Climbing: Whitefish, MT

You are in for an absolute treat as we gear up in some pretty tight shoes and a sweet harness to spend two days learning how to climb, rappel and belay, and spending the exhausted nights sleeping under the stars.

Day 24 -25. Relaxation: Coeur d’Alene, ID

Surrounded by mountains, forests and water our next stop sits on the edge of the great outdoors. Known for its magical lakefront and water sports, Coeur d’Alene is the perfect spot for a couple days of relaxation. You'll never want to leave this postcard town!

Day 26 - 29. Hiking & Kayaking, Program Wrap: Orcas, WA

Explore the amazing islands off the coast of Washington. Spend your days hiking, wandering, and kayaking, keeping your eyes peeled for the various marine life around you. You will set up camp on rugged and quiet shores, enjoying the calm and clear skies that provide amazing stargazing opportunities!

Sadly, the time has come to begin processing the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that the last 29 days have taken us on. Our lives are all somewhat chaotic right now, so we are sure that you will reflect on how amazing it was to have a chance to take a break from everything, learn about ourselves, but also prioritise time to experience and have gratitude for our own beautiful and historic culture and environment.

For full program details, please request the information booklet

Suitability

Open to high school graduates, university students and graduates, ideally 18 – 24 years. This program is suitable for anyone of average fitness with an enthusiasm for conservation, humanitarian work, new experiences and different cultures. You need to be open-minded, and committed to and prepared for some physical work whilst on the volunteer component of the program. It is an excellent option for students and graduates wanting to be exposed to and immersed in a culture different to their own. You don’t need to have had previous experience with international travel or any of the activities offered.

The program is a shared group experience. We expect you to join the program with an open mind and a willingness to work together with your group mates to make the program an amazing experience for the whole group. Additionally, the program will be as much about the inner journey of personal growth and learning about yourself as it is about what you will experience in the outer physical journey. We expect you to be open to learning and challenging your ideas and assumptions.

Accommodation

Our accommodation will vary from simple share accommodation with shared facilities to modern hotels and guesthouses with private bathrooms. Laundry and WiFi will be available most days. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.

Meals

Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. Food is a highlight when travelling. 100% of meals are included in the program cost. We recommend you budget the sum of $10 per day for snacks and drinks not included in the program cost (approximately $300 for the program).

Program Tuition Includes

All activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary; Service-learning volunteer conservation project; Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism, history, and development; Experienced Program Instructors and local guides. 

Summer Dates 2 Jul - 31 Jul, 2021
Duration 30 days
(plus independent extension options)

Program Tuition $6,975 USD Estimated Flight Cost $250 USD
Availability Open
Group Size 13 Students & 2 Instructors Ages 18 - 24 ideal
Optional College Credit Yes Start/Finish Start: Palm Springs, California
Finish: Seattle, Washington