Alternative Spring Break Program

RMFI provides opportunities for universities to offer their students a service-focused spring break alternative that blends hands-on environmental service learning with outdoor skills and recreation opportunities in the magnificent Canyonlands region of Utah.


1. Provide an educational experience dedicated to the integration of outdoor leadership, environmental education, and volunteer stewardship.

2. Introduce outdoor leadership skills including Leave No Trace, map and compass navigation, equipment care and selection, and backcountry cooking, among other skills.

3. Inspire both a reverence for the outdoors and a dedication to environmental stewardship through hands-on service to the land.

  • Introduce basic trail building and landscape restoration techniques.

4. Advance understanding and interest through educational group discussions and guest speakers focusing on the following environmental issues:

  • The natural and human history of the Canyonlands/Colorado Plateau area
  • Current regional and local public land conservation issues
  • The increasing challenges facing U.S. public land management
  • The increasing importance of involvement in individual public land stewardship

Environmental Service Project
The bulk of the program revolves around the environmental service project. RMFI believes the future protection and restoration of our public lands lies in cultivating a public ethic of stewardship. RMFI has been working with the Bureau of Land Management in Indian Creek Canyon Utah since 1989 to create a sustainable trail infrastructure and revegetate eroded and denuded areas in this highly popular recreational rock climbing area. 

Recreation/Education Component
The recreational component of the program allows students to explore the magnificent desert landscape of Cedar Mesa. This component furthers students’ understanding of the natural and archaeological elements of the Colorado Plateau while promoting a deeper bond with the landscape. The recreation day consists of 3 hours driving (round trip), plus a hike of about 5-miles (round trip). There is some rock scrambling to get to the ruins but it is very much worth it and a favorite among students.



Indian Creek Recreation Area
The duration of the program takes place in Indian Creek Canyon, an internationally renowned crack climbing area, and focuses on volunteer service. The service objective includes re-routing and improving climbers’ access trails in Donnelly Canyon. Donnelly is located in the middle of the Indian Creek Canyon corridor and is the most popular spot for climbing in the Creek. There is an extensive network of user-created trails that leads to the base of the cliffs; however, the trails are loose, heavily eroded, and often hard to locate. The group will improve the trail network to be sustainable and require less annual maintenance. The new alignment will require construction of stabilizing structures such as rock steps, risers, and retaining walls in many locations.

After workdays during the week, visits may be made to archeological sites within Indian Creek Canyon including Cottonwood Canyon and Newspaper Rock State Historic Park. Camp will be a basecamp-style setup with a group kitchen (pavilion with picnic tables) and 4-person sleeping tents. For all but one of the days at Indian Creek, we will wake at sunrise, help make breakfast, pack lunches, then hit the road to the work site. We will spend the duration of the days at the work site, eventually heading back to the campsite in the late afternoon. After a little bit of R&R, we re-convene to make dinner. Then it’s doing dishes, perhaps an evening stroll or group game, then to bed. RMFI staff will assist with the ‘chores’ but all participants are expected to contribute. RMFI staff will be camped nearby the group, but they will have a separate camp.

Cedar Mesa
For one day during the program, the group will visit the majestic landscape of Cedar Mesa. Cedar Mesa is a world-renowned destination for backpackers and archeology enthusiasts. It is famous for its beautiful canyons and wealth of Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) sites. The mesa top is primarily pinon-juniper woodland, with ponderosa pine in higher and cooler areas. The canyon bottoms contain cottonwood trees and occasional riparian zones. The canyons are eroded from Cedar Mesa Sandstone, a beautiful, multi-hued sedimentary rock that has eroded into shelves and ledge systems that provide for interesting travel and campsites. On the Cedar Mesa recreation day, we will leave Indian Creek and drive approximately 1.5 hours south to the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. There, we will meet with a representative from the Friends of Cedar Mesa who will lead an educational hike and talk to the Moonhouse Ruin Site. This hike is approximately 5.6 miles round-trip.


2018 Program Information coming soon. Please contact [email protected] for 2018 spring break inquiries and scheduling.