Western United States Semester Program | Pacific Discovery

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This 10-week semester program offers you enriching and inspiring experiences throughout the beautiful regions of the United States’ West Coast and surrounds. It combines service-learning conservation projects in diverse reserves; outdoor expeditions including backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, yoga and white-water rafting; and educational adventure travel through the west’s stunning mountain, forest and desert environments. Discover the weaving and cooking traditions of the Native Americans, the National Parks’ efforts to mitigate deforestation and reintroduce endemic wildlife, and uncover more about your own backyard than you even knew existed.

This fall and spring semester program is suitable for high school graduates, gap year students, university students and graduates, ideally 18 – 24 years.

  • Backpacking trip in Shasta Trinity National Forest, California
  • Mountain biking in Sedona, Arizona
  • White water rafting and horseback riding in Missoula, Montana
  • Ranger Guided Program in the White Sands National Park, New Mexico
  • 3-day yoga & hiking retreat in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Questions & Answers


8 Rating
based on 4 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 50%
  • 7-8 rating 25%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 25%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Housing 6.8
  • Support 6.8
  • Fun 8
  • Value 7
  • Safety 7.3
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
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Yes, I recommend this program

My Pacific discovery Western US Rating

I did have an incredible experience. The variety of places we went allowed me to experience and fully enjoy a vast amount of different environments from desert to snow and everything in between. The program has boosted my confidence by physically challenging me in ways I could not imagine before this trip such as rock climbing and mountain biking but I had such fun trying these activities that I now have more confidence to try new things in my everyday life. Additionally working with the group has helped me develop my teamwork and problem solving skills

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Mountain biking. I was slightly nervous in my ability to mountain bike as I never had before but I still had a lot of fun doing it.
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No, I don't recommend this program

Pacific Discovery Western US

Pacific Discovery Western US was a below average experience. The planning and coordination was incredibly poor; the second half of the trip was spent camping in below freezing weather in the rain and snow. It was incredibly dangerous, and we felt very uncomfortable, with very little concern from the instructions. In fact, while camping in the freezing cold, one of the instructors felt so uncomfortable that she slept on the bus instead of in her tent, leaving us to freeze all night by ourselves outside. Regarding the instructors, they were very immature and irresponsible, and when students felt unsafe or unhappy, they offered little to no input when issues were brought to their attention. Additionally, throughout the 70 days there were weeks in a row where we were doing non-stop activity, followed by weeks in a row where we had nothing planned but “relaxation days” and it became incredibly boring and unstimulating.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Mac n cheese!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Pacific Discovery West Coast

The trip was amazing because of the natural beauty that we explored like Arches National Park, Olympic National Park, Stanley - Idaho, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Montesano, Onalaska - Washington, San Juan Islands, Missoula and more. But the trip was so much more enjoyable because of the people including the instructors. I am not the most social person to have all these what were strangers be kind and accept me was really something that I will remember and take from this experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don’t go backpacking in the rain, we tried it and we had to turn around because all of our gear was soaked.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Western USA Gap Year Semester Program

This trip has been an amazing experience. We started in Colorado, went through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon and now we are in California. We have done lots of activities from hiking to service work to whitewater rafting to mountain biking and to many more activities. All of those activities have been a total blast and I will miss doing these activities with a group of people. I have made some incredible memories and friends on this trip and I will remember this for the rest of my life. The trip was very enjoyable in general and I hope to do something like this again in the near future!!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most unfamiliar thing I ate on this trip was just plain rice because I had never done that at home before. We were backpacking in Washington, we forgot to bring our vegetables so that evening we just cooked plain rice in our tents. It was ok but it didn’t really taste that good. It was very plain. It could of been better if I had it with veggies or meat!! Other than that, I haven’t had anything that is unusual!! We have had lots of stir fry, taco/burrito nights, pasta/ Mac and cheese, ramen so it has not been bad!! The meals have been good!!
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