ARCC Gap: Southwest - Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona & California

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Immerse in a western Colorado homestay on a cattle ranch and learn what makes small family farms vital. Soar atop the rapids of the Colorado River and retrace history as we address water rights issues and sleep under starry skies. Build a toolkit of medical skills, join the ranks of the outdoor professionals as Wilderness First Responders. Get your hands dirty building an entirely sustainable home and learn first-hand the power and potential of renewable energy sources.

ARCC’s Southwest Gap Semester provides access to some of America’s most beautiful and remote landscapes ranging from the depths of Utah’s most spectacular canyons and the jagged peaks of the Colorado Rockies to the expansive deserts of New Mexico and Arizona and the dramatic coastline of Southern California. Building upon our 38-year history of running domestic programs in the U.S., this semester provides hands-on opportunities and access to areas usually unavailable to the everyday traveler.

  • Raft Cataract Canyon and Explore Lake Powell While Learning About Water Rights
  • Work alongside an Organization Building Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Housing
  • Earn Your PADI SCUBA Certification Among the Colorful California Marine Life
  • Learn about Immigration Reform and Initiatives along the Southern Border
  • Explore Arches National Park and Catch a Sunset at Delicate Arch

Questions & Answers


10 Rating
based on 4 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 100%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
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  • Housing 9.3
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
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Yes, I recommend this program

Some of the Best 70 Days of My Life

This trip was some of the best 70 days of my life. I loved the combination of spending time in nature while also learning about the Southwest and volunteering. Even with COVID, ARCC figured out how we could safely work with most of our partners in person, whether that meant spending four days rafting the Colorado River while learning about water rights or building a fence for a wolf sanctuary. In addition to learning about the Southwest and more academic topics like environmental sustainability and immigration, I learned a lot about myself. I have a better sense of what it what I'm passionate about and how to achieve my goals.
While the prospect of spending 70 days in a tent seemed a little daunting to me at first, by the end of the trip, my tent and the rest of my group felt like home to me. There's nothing like waking up to the sun glowing through your tent and the sound of your friends laughing next to you. I'm grateful that I made so many close friends with whom I still talk to regularly. My instructors were also so passionate about their work. It was inspiring. They cared enough to take time to connect with us as people too, not just students.
If even part of you is considering taking a gap year, do it. I'm so glad I did and that I chose to do an ARCC program. 100% recommend.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Come in with an open mind, never miss a chance to ask questions, embrace every experience head on, even when it is challenging, and appreciate your time as much as you can. The semester will end sooner than you want it to.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Unexpected, but impossibly valuable

I had no plan to deviate from a four year college plan, right out of the gate of high school. But when COVID quickly turned college into a learn from home experience, I became open to other options. ARCC fit every niche of what I was looking for in an extracurricular experience. It brought together my love for the outdoors, adventure, and was a brief and welcome break from social distancing. The trip was safe and exceptional, and seeing the Southwest was like traveling through a nat geo issue. Every partner we had the opportunity to work with was enthusiastic and truly devoted to educating our group. We could be a handful at times, but an air of enthusiasm followed us around and carried into every activity.

What was your funniest moment?
We were left to cook our own meals, which was an important experience, and one evening we ended up with 48 servings of burnt spaghetti in the form of a pasta brick.
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Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Southwest Gap Semester Review

ARCC's trip was incredible! For one, the instructors were amazing; connecting with each and every student, being there to support us, and helping build a unified group. Secondly, the trip itself had a great balance between hiking in the beautiful outdoors, learning in a classroom setting, service work, and bonding with the group. Due to COVID, some experiences had to be changed last minute and ARCC adapted the programs well. I grew as a leader, student, and as a person. Highly recommend to anyone taking a gap year/semester.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
When we went scuba diving, there were sea lions swimming all around us!
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Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Southwest Program Fall 2020

This program was amazing and unique is every way. It was educational but had a balanced schedule of fun and adventuring. Group leaders were great and always made us feel safe and made sure we enjoyed what we were doing. Everyone in the group got along great and even when things got difficult or confusing we had a good group attitude about it. Long car rides in a 15 passenger van are no biggie when you are with 14 amazing friends. I was nervous to go on this semester but after only a few days on the trip I knew I had made the right decision :)

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Come prepared to be as present as possible and to be a good group member
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