About the Program

Trip Snapshot

Dates:DaysAgesCostRound Trip
1613-17$2,400Fort Worth or Austin, TX
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New Mexico Desert

Just like all of our trips, we pick up campers in Austin and in DFW on our way to experience all that the “Land of Enchantment” has to offer.  We travel round trip from Texas via a 15 passenger van and trailer. NO AIRFARE or expensive equipment to purchase! Dreamed up by EPIC Adventures guides, this journey offers dramatic canyon landscapes, lush green forests, ancient ruins, and pristine mountain lakes. Big skies and stunning vistas will be the norm as teens paddle kayaks through majestic canyons, don their headlamps to explore massive caves, and hike along the top of the world in the Pecos Wilderness. Teens will also serve fellow adventurers by clearing and building mountain trails. Hot springs, petroglyphs, and wildflowers are a few of the treasures in store for those willing to get off the beaten path and explore New Mexico.

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Santa Rosa Blue HoleThe journey begins with a stopover at Palo Duro, “the Grand Canyon of Texas,” where teens will learn the basics of campcraft and cooking in preparation for the adventures ahead. Then we’ll stop to cool off at Santa Rosa Blue Hole, a spring fed gem in the middle of the desert. The first major journey is a five day kayaking trip down the San Juan River in northwestern New Mexico. The Upper San Juan is crystal clear, originating in the snowmelt of the Rocky Mountains. The world-renowned fishing waters amidst pasturelands gives way to muddier water and arid canyons as the San Juan joins the Animas. Paddlers will enjoy Class I and II rapids during the day and home-cooked meals, balmy evenings, and starry skies when they turn in at night.

Campers will explore the incredible geology and majestic caves of El Malpais, where lava flows created underground tunnels for the brave of heart to explore. Armed with a headlamp, hard hat, and boots, you’ll discover a hidden moss garden deep within Skylight Cave and a year-round frosted floor in Giant Ice Cave.

Chaco CultureThe rich Native American history and culture is essential to New Mexico, and campers will discover petroglyphs as well as the largest, best preserved, and most complex prehistoric architecture in all of North America at the Chaco Culture Park. This park is also one of only four Dark Sky Parks in the US, and after learning about the Chacoan people’s history and use of astronomy, teens will get to use a telescope to peer deep into space.

Heading out of the desert, the next sight will be the jagged peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the welcome coolness of the forested slopes. Teens will get to serve fellow nature enthusiasts as they partner with the National Park Service to clear and build trails, for a total of 16 hours of service. This time will allow them to acclimate to the 8,000 foot elevation as they look ahead to the five day, 20 mile backpacking trip. Carrying everything they need to thrive in the rugged wilderness, teens will follow a mountain stream in a landscape dotted with wildflowers. They’ll emerge on Skyline Drive, a trail that clings to a mountain slope, offering sweeping views of the Pecos wilderness. Campers will spend a day resting, playing, and swimming at the jewel of the Pecos, Katherine Lake, at an elevation of almost 12,000 feet. Hidden caves and ancient trees complete this loop, where you just might see bighorn sheep, elk, bear, deer, and turkey.

After backpacking, campers will be able to soak their sore muscles in a hot spring before heading back home, brimming with stories and memories, new confidence and new friends.

16 Day EPIC New Mexico + Service ItineraryNo Previous Experience or Expensive Gear Required!
Day 1Welcome to Camp / Travel
Day 2EPIC Wilderness Clinic/swimming at Blue Hole
Day 3-7River Clinic and 5 day River Trip
Day 7Prehistoric ruins and petroglyphs, Dark Sky telescope viewing
Day 8El Malpais lava tube caving and exploration
Day 9-10Service Work
Day 11-13Multi-Day Backpacking Trip to alpine lakes.
Day 14Finish backpacking trip, soak in hot springs.
Day 15Clean Gear, Pack, Travel, and celebrate with EPIC Banquet
Day 16Head home to share our stories


First things first, the staff will teach campers knot tying, shelter building, cooking methods, water purification, Leave No Trace ethics (LNT), how to select a proper campsite, and back country and front country safety. In addition, we also spend time teaching campers how to plan routes, basic orienteering, outdoor leadership, risk management skills, and how to maintain proper hygiene.  We believe strongly in hands-on learning and make every effort to put campers into real world situations where staff can mentor students in real time. Understanding these concepts ensures campers are not only prepared for our adventures together, but also leave the program with a greater sense of confidence.

teen adventure camps rafting

For our multi-day kayaking trip, we will explore the varied beauty of the San Juan River. From its sparkling clear headwaters, which boast some of the best trout fishing in the world, we will paddle to its wilder lower reaches, as it meets the muddy Animas on its journey to Lake Powell. The river cuts through the barren Badlands, providing a freshwater supply to the Navajo people still living there today. Campers may see roadrunners, javelina, and armadillo along the river, which passes through rocky canyons until the takeout point at Four Corners. Campers are given comprehensive instruction on proper kayaking techniques prior to beginning our adventure. Once we head out, we will be self sufficient for the remainder of the trip, cooking and camping along the way on the banks. Traveling by water is one of the oldest forms of adventure and this trip provides plenty of Class I and II paddling fun!

Perhaps the most challenging, but also the most rewarding, component of the trip is backpacking. Teens consistently learn more from backpacking than anything else we do at camp. Days begin by preparing breakfast and filling water bottles before beginning the day’s hike. On a typical day, teens will hike 4-6 miles before making camp. Hikes are challenging but designed to suit everyone’s varying abilities.  This is not a boot camp so don’t worry. Campers are given leadership roles each day and the gear is divided around the group equally. Campers usually make camp around 3-4 pm each day so they have plenty of time to build shelters, filter water, cook, and build campfires.  Campers will prepare their food over campfires or with backpacking stoves, cooking things like pancakes, quesadillas, pita pizzas, cheesy hash, chicken mac, and many other fun meals. In fact, camp parents often tell us their camper comes home and cooks for them! We build shelters from tarps or if the weather is nice we just sleep under the stars. To celebrate the end of our backpacking trip, we enjoy a soak in a hot spring and a well-deserved dinner at a local restaurant. The sense of accomplishment and bonding that occurs on a backpacking trip can’t be overstated.  The stories and experiences that come from our backpacking trips are often the ones that become EPIC!

teen Backpacking camp

We have partnered with local organizations to facilitate and lead service projects that are fun, engaging and impactful. Together we will work on clearing downed trees, repairing erosion, watershed restoration, and maintaining trails. Each camper will receive credit for 16 hours of service work.



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