“I felt that I grew as a person, while also improving my backcountry skills. I am so grateful that I ended up on this trip.”
—Clara, Yellowstone Expedition Student

Expedition Overview

Dates:  August 5-25, 2023
Age: Entering grade 11 - graduating seniors
Group size: max 8 students/3 instructors
Length: 21 days
Tuition: $5,985
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.

Through a partnership with the University of Montana Western and the Montana University System’s One-Two-Free program, students on this course have the 
opportunity to earn 2 college credits at reduced or zero cost. Contact MWS for more details about this opportunity!
Questions? Send us an email.

Suggested Prior Experience:
MWS Intro to Packrafting Adventure or MWS Missouri River Adventure (or equivalents)

MWS Essential Eligibility Criteria
Packing List 
Apply 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
  • Experience abundant wildlife and pristine ecosystems

Expedition Description

The Yellowstone Expedition provides an incredible opportunity to experience the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by both land and water for 21 days. As one of our longest expeditions, this course provides an excellent opportunity for students to fine tune both backcountry and leadership skills, and to build a strong an united expedition community through extended time in the wilderness.

The team will spend the first week backpacking in a remote mountain range and learning fundamental backpacking, camping, cooking, group travel & decision-making skills. During the second and third weeks of the expedition, students will hit the river to learn how to paddle both packrafts and expeditionary canoes, gaining exposure to basic swiftwater rescue techniques and technical paddling skills.

Across the course, participants will engage in lessons about place-based ecology, land history, Native peoples, land and water navigation, and leadership and communication styles. Each student will have several opportunities to lead the group as the Expedition Leader of the Day to gain experience with newly acquired leadership and backcountry skills. Expedition members will also obtain Leave No Trace® Awareness and Wilderness First Aid certifications to serve them in future wilderness travel. 

Interested students can earn college credit for this experience through University of Montana Western. For more information about MWS core curriculum and expedition progression see Expedition Life.

Expedition Objectives and Learning Outcomes

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

Safety 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 individual and 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

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 environment using map and compass skills

Technical Skills

Packrafting, Canoeing and Fly Fishing
  • Inflating, deflating, packing and securing equipment in an inflatable packraft
  • Reading water and understanding hydraulics in swift moving water
  • Swift water rescue skills
  • Packraft and canoe control and paddling skills in swift moving water and rapids
  • Students will have the opportunity to learn fly fishing skills
apply Now
Montana Wilderness School
P.O. Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771

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