• United States of America
4 - 12 weeks

Program Details

Hiking Rafting Scuba Diving
Cabin Guesthouse Host Family Hostel Lodge Tent
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
$14,000 USD
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Some Equipment Meals Park Fees Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Domestic Airfare
Dec 10, 2020
Jun 03, 2021

About Program

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.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • 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

Program Reviews

9.71 Rating
based on 7 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 100%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Housing 9
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.9
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 7 of 7 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Review of Southwest program

My experience on the trip changed how i acted around other and i’m proved my leadership skills and roles, everyone in the group bonded pretty well together. If I could do this program again, i would, this was a great experience and at first i didn’t want to go on this trip because i didn’t want to go outside of my comfort zone. But then i tried it and it felt good to try new things and experience all these good memories and moments we shared. It’s definitely worth going, I can promise you i had so much anxiety before the trip and my anxiety only went up a couple of times which is great.

What was your funniest moment?
When we were playing a game called mafia, I would always get so mad when someone accused me of being then mafia, it was just super funny whenever someone would do it.
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC southwest

My experience on the ARCC Southwest program was an incredible one and I highly suggest it. I had never gone camping before and was quite nervous but the supportive staff were very accommodating. My peers on the trip were very nice and like minded, so we were able to have great discussions on the academic elements of the trip as well as become close friends. This program isn't an intense backpacking experience but you'll learn a lot about living in a group, and hopefully have good takeaways on yourself. The places in nature we went to were incredible and there is much beauty to be found in the southwest, especially in how varied the landscapes are. If you're looking for a good mix between political, structured adventure activities, and camping ARCC is a great trip. We also became Wilderness First Responder certified. I highly suggest ARCC Southwest, or otherwise if you want to go on an outdoors gap trip but are either newer to outdoor activities or want a varied experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
You're going to go to so many amazing places but a lot of them will be crowded. You're going to be with people all day every day so go and seek the places where you can connect with the incredibly unique spots in nature you visit. Having deep conversations with your peers on the trip in these landscapes is truly a blessing and don't be afraid to leave the "main area" of many of these spots.
4 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Southwest

I had a great time! Wish I had done one in the fall too! I definitely recommend this trip, make sure to pack warm, the Southwest can be deceivingly cold. I really enjoyed the education aspects that focused on immigration and water rights. I do wish that there was less waiting/sitting around, I think if we were able to go more places some of the weeks that would have been great. Also, I particularly had a fun time on the rafting trip, surfing, and hiking at the different national parks. I wish we got to the Narrows hike at Zion, but we did get to do Angel’s Landing. Overall, had a really fun time!

4 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
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.
4 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
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.
6 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
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!
6 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
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
4 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers