Grad School Orientation Black Canyon Canoe

Days spent paddling along the Colorado River are calm but challenging. As we move up the river, the valley turns to a canyon with walls towering vertically out of the river. We might see an occasional Bighorn Sheep, and what is left of the silver and gold mines of the area. Camping on the river next to hot springs we will have the opportunity for a day trip to a sauna cave, and the heated waterfall in Gold-strike Canyon. You will learn valuable paddling skills used to conquer the river’s many currents while travelling upstream toward the Hoover Dam, but will also enjoy being able to float lazily along the waters on your way back down.

The Trip

As one of the most amazing paddling trips in the west, this flatwater stretch of the Colorado is perfectly suited for beginners. We will get a chance to experience numerous heated streams, pools, and waterfalls throughout our time in the canyon and while not paddling, we'll be eating delicious food, and telling stories under the array of desert stars. Each day you will travel from beach to beach along the river in your canoe, gliding through the emerald green waters of the river and seeing the remnants of old abandoned mining operations. Besides learning how to paddle, you will also develop your outdoor cooking, navigation, and Leave No Trace skills. These skills may seem specific to the wilderness, but you'd be surprised how helpful they can be in every-day life. In spending time on the river with your fellow Wilderness Orientation participants, you will develop a sense of community and will discover how face the many challenges of the river as a member of a team. This experience will help you prepare for the many obstacles you will encounter once you begin your stay at UCSD. Click here for a Trip Video Click on a Trip Slideshow here

Course Area - Black Canyon

Black Canyon is one of the most amazing places to canoe in the west. This section of the Colorado – Black Canyon – is best known for its numerous mineral hot springs that emerge from the crevices of the canyon walls. And because we will be camping along the river, on many nights we will be able to soak away in the natural, hot mineral waters until dinner. The heat of the Arizona summer is impressive, but it’s nothing that can’t be conquered with a dip in the chilly Colorado. And if warm air and cool water weren't enough to make you want to play on the river, the emerald green caves and coves are enough to take anyone's breath away. This is one of our most awesome trips, and for that reason it will fill early, so register soon.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – Meet at the Outback Adventures Headquarters at 10am. Check out your gear and then experience the Challenge Course. Drive to Willow Beach and camp along the Colorado River. Day 2-5 – Paddle along the Colorado River and enjoy the hot springs of the Arizona Desert! Drive back to campus on day 5 for trip cleanup and a final celebration dinner. Camp at Outback Adventures for the final night. Day 6 - Breakfast, Closing Ceremonies, Depart 10.00am. Plan flights no earlier than 12pm (noon).

Physical Demands

Canoeing is a unique skill to master and can be very tiring. As you will learn before you get on the water, you must use your core muscles to execute proper paddling form. This may take minutes or days to master, depending on your skill level. The heat of the Arizona desert in August is nothing to take lightly. Wearing proper sun protection is essential as well as drinking lots of water. Luckily for you, though, you can cool off any time you want in the waters of the Colorado!*We are more than willing to work with participants who may require adaptive solutions. Please call the Director for more information at a minimum of 30 days in advance of the trip start.

Registration Fee Info

Registration fees cover transportation from UCSD to the trip destination, instruction, most food and all group gear (tents, cooking equipment, canoes, kayaks, surfboards, first aid supplies etc.). Participants provide personal equipment on the trip packing list, most of which can be purchased or rented at Outback Adventures.


Drugs, alcohol, tobacco and firearms are not permitted on any Outback trip. Presence of these items is grounds for immediate removal from the trip at the participant's expense.

Current emergency contact and medical information must be provided.

All participants must complete a Liability-Waiver (PDF) prior to the trip.

Cancellation Policy

Rental gear listed as provided above by Outback Adventures must be reserved and picked up at the Outback Rental Shop prior to the trip, during store hours. There is no extra charge.


Adventure travel has inherent risks of injury and/or death. These risks contribute to the "adventure" aspect of our trips. UCSD Outback Adventures and its employees assume no liability for any damages, loss, injury or death as a result of our trips. Some trips have a prerequisite fitness level, for which the participants are responsible. Any person participating in an Outback Adventures trip is personally responsible for his or her own safety.

WO DOES NOT REPLACE FORMAL COLLEGE ORIENTATION and students must schedule WO and college orientation without a time conflict.