About the Program

Trip Snapshot

Dates:DaysAgesCostRound Trip
7/1 - 7/29
2913-17$3,500Austin or Dallas, TX
Save $500

Refundable Deposit Required
Register Before 12/25
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Want double the time in the mountains? This EPIC Adventure combines the Ultimate Ozarks 15 day trip with our 16 day Blue Ridge trip. The Ozarks provides the opportunity to do an extended multi-day paddle trip down America’s First National River whereas when we travel east towards the Appalachian Mountains the river trips are action packed day trips with lots of rapids with guided rafts. We will do Three backpacking trips and 50+ on the trail, explore wild caves, waterfalls, zip line, and perform service work on both sections of the trip.

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Teen Summer Camp in TX

We will paddle 40+ miles over several days down the Buffalo setting up camp and checking out some of the side hikes as we paddle down river. The river cuts through the heart of the Ozarks and has numerous iconic rocky bluffs that dot the edges of the river to create some really neat side hikes and waterfalls. Once we make it over to the Appalachian Mountains we switch from flat water multi-day river trips to day long white water rafting trips. The Nolichucky River Gorge (class II – IV) whitewater rafting trip is an adventurous 9 miles of action with 25+ class II-IV rapids. Starting just below the headwaters of the river, the trip winds through the deepest river gorge in the South along the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee surrounded by towering cliffs and flowery rhododendron. The headwaters and tributaries that feed the river are all from the slopes of Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain on the entire East coast. In addition to that rafting trip we will also take on the The Ocoee River. This class III – IV section of awesome big water is full of huge splashy rapids with action from start to finish! There are over 26 adventure class rapids on this 5 mile stretch of river with names such as Grumpys, Double Trouble, Tablesaw and Diamond Splitter, which make it one of the South’s most popular rivers. The Ocoee River was also home to the whitewater sports for the 1996 Summer Olympics!

As is with all of our trips that have a backpacking element on them we see teens learn the most about themselves on the trail. The backpacking portions of the trips are similar only in the fact that they will be hiking through a forest. Arkansas trails are not as well maintained as they are further east but they make up for it by being a little more remote and steeper than are the trails in North Carolina. Campers will knock out about 50 miles of trails over the course of the three backpacking trips and several day hikes.

Teens will also get to participate in three days of service oriented activities ranging from river cleanups to invasive species removal when we partner with local conservation groups to assist with facilitating the work.

This combination trip really gives teens the opportunity to test their skills out!

29 Day ArkeRidge+ Service ItineraryNo Previous Experience or Expensive Gear Required!
Day 1Welcome to Camp / Team Building
Day 2EPIC Wilderness Clinic / Day Hike to Swimming Hole
Day 3-64-day Backpacking Trip
Day 7Service work removing invasive species from the area
Day 8Service work working on watershed preservation
Day 9-13River Clinic and 5-Day River Trip
Day 14Meet up with the Blue Ridge Campers and Laundry
Day 15Zip Lines Smoky Mountains
Day 16Day Hike to River Overlook
Day 17-18Overnight Backpacking Trip to Eagles Bluff
Day 19Caving / Laundry
Day 20Whitewater Rafting - Nolichuky River
Day 21Service Day with River Link
Day 22-26 Backpacking Trip, Waterfalls, and Sliding Rock
Day 27Whitewater Rafting - Ocoee River
Day 28EPIC Banquet, Pack and Clean Gear, Travel
Day 29Depart for Home

Activities

First things first, the staff will work with campers teaching them knot tying, shelter building, cooking methods, water purification, Leave No Trace ethics (LNT), how to select a proper campsite,  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. Having a good understanding of these concepts ensures campers are not only prepared for our adventures together but gives them confidence when they leave.

Wilderness Camp in TexasPerhaps the most challenging component of the trip but also the most rewarding part of the trip is backpacking. Teens consistently learn more from backpacking than anything else we do at camp. Hiking high above the desert in the mountains, the air is much cooler and the views are incredible. Days begin by preparing breakfast and filling water bottles before beginning the day’s hike. On a typical day, teens will hike 4-8 miles before making camp. Hikes are challenging but designed to challenge everyone to their 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, and many more fun meals. In fact many 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 have  a well deserved dinner at a local mountain lodge 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!

For our multi-day kayaking trip we will adventure down the Buffalo River. Running the Buffalo River’s rapids then enjoying the quiet pools of clear water, it will not take long to see why this river became the first National River in the United States. Located in the heart of the Ozarks, the river is surrounded by cliffs, isolated wilderness, and amazing views. It is not uncommon to see elk and possibly black bears as well as over 400 species of animals and birds in the area. 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 is certain to be full of it!

Located on the edge of the Smoky Mountains, this zip line trip is action packed and exhilarating. Discover the tree tops as you zip along a 1300′ long zip line 120′ above the river! This is sure to get your juices flowing.

This hidden place is perched 2000’ above the Nolichucky River overlooking one of the class IV rapids we will raft. From here the rafts will look like little rubber ducks floating down the river! We will hike down to the rim of the second deepest river gorge on the East coast, crossing several creeks and streams along the way. A great way to warm up and get ready for our multi-day backpacking trip.

The Nolichucky River Gorge (class II – IV) whitewater rafting trip is an adventurous 9 miles of action with 25+ class II-IV rapids. Starting just below the headwaters of the river, the trip winds through the deepest river gorge in the South along the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee surrounded by towering cliffs and flowery rhododendron. The headwaters and tributaries that feed the river are all from the slopes of Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain on the entire East coast.

Wilderness Camp in TexasFor many campers this is their favorite part of the trip. Guided by a local guide who knows every corner of the cave, campers will adventure deep into a wild cave with nothing but a headlamp for light. Teens will not find lighted walkways, but muddy passageways that require campers to crawl, climb, slide, and squeeze  in order to discover the many hidden treasures that lie deep below the surface. This is a wild cave loaded with stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, waterfalls, and much more that will leave campers in amazement. Interesting facts about the cave we will explore: remains of a saber tooth tiger were found inside, members of Jesse James’ group used it to hide, and Native American artifacts dating back 8,000 years have been discovered!

The Ocoee River  (class III – IV) is an awesome big water river with huge, splashy rapids and action packed from start to finish! There are over 26 adventure class rapids on this 5 mile stretch of river with names such as Grumpys, Double Trouble, Tablesaw and Diamond Splitter, which make it one of the South’s most popular rivers. The Ocoee River was also home to the whitewater sports for the 1996 Summer Olympics!

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