Yellowstone Expedition

“I feel like I’ve realized that I need to be more selfless and appreciate what I have. And I feel like this expedition has taught me to live more simply and try to block out all the stress of the world.”

-Rus, MWS student

Backpack in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and then packraft, canoe and fly fish the legendary Yellowstone River! During this dynamic land and water expedition students will learn and practice MWS core skills in navigation, camping, backcountry cooking and teamwork. You will progress from the mountains to your river section and learn to paddle both packrafts and canoes with your expeditionary team. The Yellowstone Adventure is specifically designed for 16 to 18 year old students looking to challenge themselves both in the mountains and on an iconic Montana river.

Expedition Overview

Dates: July 28 to August 17th, 2018
Ages: 16 - 18 years old
Group size: Max 8 students/2 instructors
Length: 21 days
Tuition: $4,305

*This expedition includes a wilderness first aid course. During this 16-hour course students will have an opportunity to receive a national recognized certification from Aerie Backcountry Medicine.

Questions? Email Us.

Additional Resources Enroll Now

Expedition Highlights

  • Backpack in the mountains of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem
  • Packraft and canoe the Yellowstone River; the longest free flowing river in the lower 48 states!
  • Learn swift water rescue techniques
  • Adventurous white water paddling experiences
  • Learn to fly fish on a blue-ribbon Montana river
  • Experience abundant wildlife and pristine ecosystems

Expedition Description

The Yellowstone Expedition is designed for 16 to 18 year old students to provide them an opportunity to experience the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem both on land and on the river. Students will spend the first week of the expedition backpacking through vast valleys in a remote mountain range and learning fundamental backpacking and camping skills. During the second and third week of the expedition students will get in their packrafts and canoes and paddle down the scenic and iconic Yellowstone river. This part of the expedition will provide them opportunities to learn how to paddle both expeditionary canoes and inflatable packrafts and will expose them to basic swift water rescue techniques. Fly fishing techniques and skills will be incorporated during the paddling sections of the expedition on this blue-ribbon Montana river. From beginning to end, students will also engage in lessons about place-based ecology, leadership and communication, gaining formal tools they can then practice with their expeditionary team. For more information about MWS core curriculum and expedition progression see Expedition Life  

Expedition Objectives and Learning Outcomes

Backcountry camping and navigation skills
  • Use safe backcountry kitchen practices to cook nutritious meals on a camp stove or fire
  • Demonstrate an ability to select an appropriate campsite and set up a shelter while minimizing the impact on the ecosystem
  • Understand and demonstrate how to stay healthy, warm, and comfortable in the backcountry
  • Understand and demonstrate techniques for camping and traveling in bear habitat
  • Use various navigation and route-finding tools and methods for on and off trail travel
  • Travel efficiently in the alpine and river environment using map and compass skills
Teamwork and communication skills
  • Learn positive communication skills with diverse group members to create a healthy community, build trust, and make sound decisions in the backcountry together
  • Develop an expedition philosophy, apply it to the course, and understand how it can transfer back to the student’s home environment

Risk management and wilderness based decision-making
  • Backcountry hazard evaluation and risk reduction guidelines and tools
  • First aid awareness for backcountry settings: identification and treatment of common backcountry illness and injuries
  • Learn to collaboratively make decisions in remote environments that prioritizes group safety

Conservation Ethic
  • Use basic observational and interpretive skills to demonstrate an understanding and respect for the natural environment
  • Discuss the history, facts and potential solutions to pertinent environmental and social issues affecting the wilderness in the expedition area
  • Reflect upon and discuss the conveyance of wilderness conservation ethics into personal life and build a capacity for commitment and stewardship to wild places
  • Develop comprehensive understanding of Leave No Trace© ethics and apply them during the expedition
Technical Skills

Canoe paddling skills

  • Packing and securing equipment in a canoe for a week of travel
  • Canoe control and paddling stokes
  • Reading water and understanding large river hydrology
  • Endurance techniques for long distance paddling
  • Canoe rescue and capsize drill experience


  • Inflating, deflating, packing and securing equipment in an inflatable packraft
  • Reading water and understanding hydraulics in swift moving water
  • Swift water rescue skills
  • Packraft control and paddling skills in swift moving water and rapids

Fly fishing

  • Basic understanding of Entomology in respect to fishing
  • Catch and release principles and ethics
  • Fishing techniques; casting, knots, reel control
  • Basic river and mountain lake ecology