Ready to find out what MSU Denver can do for you? We’ve got you covered.
Adventures are instructional, hard skills focused experiences that include new skills and review in challenging outdoor settings. Examples include rock climbing, ice climbing, trail running and more.
Welcome to Outdoor Pursuits. Thanks for visiting us on the Web!
|Slacklining, juggling &
|Various days & times – TBA||TBA||Included*|
|Hike||Friday, 6/10 9a-2p||OPC** or Trailhead***||Included*|
|Rock Climbing Basics of Climbing||Saturday, 6/18 8a-2p||OPC** or Trailhead***||Included*|
|OP Staff Training field day 1
OP Staff Training field day 2
|Tuesday, 6/21 8:30a (dep)
Wednesday 6/22 3:00p (ret)
|Climbing Wall Route Setting
|Thursdays, 7/7, 7/21, 7/28
|Rappelling||Saturday, 7/16 8a-2p||OPC** or Trailhead***||Included*|
|Hike||Wednesday, 7/20 9a-2p||OPC** or Trailhead***||Included*|
|Climbing Wall Route Setting
|Wednesdays, 8/3, 8/10
|CityScape||Friday, 8/5 noon-2p||OPC**||Included*|
|CityScape||Friday, 8/12 noon-2p||OPC**||Included*|
Please visit the Outdoor Pursuits Center (OPC) or the Campus Recreation front desk for more information about how Outdoor Pursuits (OP) is returning to a full-service outdoor program following University mandated pandemic protocols.
Email Bryan at [email protected] to learn how to get involved in OP this spring semester.
Adventure Leadership and Play (ALP) provides student leadership development and team-building for your group, club, class or office. Also, learn to facilitate team-building and participate in fun on-campus challenges. email Bryan for info at [email protected]
Adventure Leadership and Play
Look for ALP Seminar in fall 2022
ALP provides student leadership development and teambuilding for your group, club, class or office. Also, learn to facilitate teambuilding and participate in fun on-campus challenges.
This fall we are excited to launch a new version of our ALP certification! The new content will include online ice breakers and get-to-know activities. There will be a new emphasis on online ALP content delivery and learners are free to complete the entire certification online or to meet in person for part of the content. There is no fee for ALP and you are encouraged to participate and engage in the way you want and to the degree that you like.
Email Bryan at [email protected] for info and to get on the roster.
ALP Certification Curriculum
Introduction, Learning Outcomes, Course Design, Experiential Learning, Terminology, Risk & Safety, Assessment, Event planning, Ice Breakers and Warm-ups, Teambuilding Activities, ALP Kits & Gear
Introduction to ALP
The Outdoor Pursuits Adventure Leadership Play (ALP) Seminar and Certification combines text-based content and a variety of options including all online live interaction (Zoom or Teams) and face-to-face small group activities. For those who are new to small group facilitation, the ALP content provides an introduction and overview, while, for experienced facilitators, ALP can provide an opportunity to share and learn new activities and idea. Designed for and with the MSU Denver community in mind, the skills, knowledge, ideas, practices and techniques are transferable to other settings.
The Outdoor Pursuits (OP) ALP Seminar provides students, faculty and staff of MSU Denver opportunities to learn about teambuilding and acquire skills so they can facilitate groups. These are train-the-trainer events intended to enrich the community by providing more opportunities for developing effective work groups.
Student participants benefit additionally by practicing public speaking, leading groups, planning events, increasing skill sets and by adding the certification to their resumes.
Adventure Leadership and Play
In general, the ALP program provides teambuilding and leadership development facilitation for students, faculty and staff of MSU Denver.
ALP focuses on teambuilding and leadership development in three main areas:
Defining teambuilding on the Auraria Campus – conducting activities intended to accelerate the process of groups becoming teams and assisting in the assimilation of members into the team.
How do we do it?
ALP builds teams by facilitating physical and cognitive problem-solving activities. These activities typically use simple props and scenarios to represent complex interpersonal workplace situations. Activities promote and demonstrate valuable practices, roles and sensitivities essential to successful performance of team members. Our activities are participative and based on scenario and experiential learning theories. These activities also help to facilitate multiple learning styles. We endeavor to engage auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile learning modalities within the array of teambuilding activities included in an experience.
Most activities are followed by guided discussion designed to highlight the lessons learned from the activity and show how these might apply to working with the team. At a minimum, processing provides participants an opportunity to express themselves and share their thoughts.
ALP Learning Outcomes
Learners will be exposed to:
Course Design – Experiential Learning
Risk and Safety
Risk management is the process of acting or taking steps to reduce the exposure of staff and programs to financial loss associated with legal liability.
Safety and Environment
For participants to enjoy an activity and gain the most value from the experience it must be safe. Assuring safety includes taking steps to prevent injury. Actions Include
As programmers and facilitators, we spend far more time on safety than we do on liability issues. We check the liability practices off the “to do” list but practice safety techniques throughout the duration of each experience.
Teambuilding events require planning, preparation and review to be successful. Included in the process are three types of assessment – pre-assessment, formative evaluation and summative evaluation.
Whenever we solicit feedback, it is key that we respect the effort of those who respond by carefully considering the information and opinions provided, keeping in mind that we need not act on every piece of feedback.
Some team members can view giving and receiving feedback as risky. A positive outcome from a teambuilding experience might include creating an environment and culture focused on giving and receiving feedback. Encouraging an environment where giving and receiving feedback is viewed as a positive part of our work and facilitation experience. This can be a delicate practice and staff, or participants can deter the progress of the team by carelessness or by being disrespectful of team members. Conducted properly, feedback contributes to both personal and team success and organizational quality.
Pre-assessment – Is there a need and can we meet it? Included in pre-assessment is needs assessment. We ask the question “is there a need to do teambuilding?” Often significant resources are required to engage in teambuilding events so, hopefully, some careful thought and consideration goes into deciding what training is important. At ALP, we accept that if a group is contacting us they have already identified a need so in that case we do not conduct an additional needs assessment.
After we decide a teambuilding event is appropriate and needed, it is the facilitator’s responsibility, during pre-assessment, to establish that we can meet the needs of the group before moving forward with planning and event development.
Prior to moving into the planning stages of any training, it is important to understand where group members are relative to the content of the training (e.g. beginners or advanced). If the training includes teambuilding, the facilitator needs to understand how the group is currently functioning and where they are in the stages of development. Are they brand new? Been working together for a long time? Are there new members? Are they embarking on a new challenge?
Examples of questions you might keep in mind include:
Based on what you learn during pre-assessment you can decide:
Formative Evaluation – If you agree to work the event, formative evaluation occurs at various intervals during the planning and conducting of the event. It provides the leadership team members with opportunities to provide feedback to one another, solicit input from clients and opportunities for participants to express their views, reactions and response the event as it progresses progress.
While planning and developing activities and content, formal and informal formative evaluation provides event staff opportunities to give and receive feedback. This is facilitated by scheduling formal group feedback times, one-on-one meetings and creating email groups, Teams or text groups to facilitate feedback.
Participating in formative feedback helps to assure that work is progressing, efforts are aligned with planned outcomes, scope is maintained, and team members are not duplicating one another’s work.
Summative Evaluation – After the event: Summative evaluation describes bringing all the events experiences and evaluations together. It often includes participant and facilitator post event evaluations, evaluation of development process. Even an evaluation of the evaluation process might be included.
Soliciting feedback from participants is the most common type of event evaluation. Participants will expect to have that opportunity. At ALP, we recommend leaders inform the group of the type of feedback they will be asked for during introductions.
Feedback requests often include a modified Likert scale but should also include open-ended prompts to encourage written feedback. OP can provide examples of feedback forms. You may choose to modify or create your own form based on specific needs.
Summative evaluation asks; was the room too cold or hot? What did you learn? And, did the activity have the desired results? Were new practices implemented. So, summative evaluation could include follow-up questions, interviews or focus groups months or even years later. In fact, these longitudinal evaluations have the added value of reminding the learner of the events and gives them a chance to reflect again on the experience – actually increasing the value of the experience.
Once we know we are going to do a teambuilding activity, it is time to start planning. For bigger events, a formal planning process might be required with a timeline and a series of deadlines. Use the strategy or software package that works best for you.
There are three types of questions that fit into event planning. Some you ask yourself and co-facilitators, others you ask your client(s)
These are desired characteristics and participant outcomes of the event.
What does the group representative want to see members get from the activity?
What is the expectation for quality? Are expectations realistic?
These are things we can measure and count.
What are your staff to participant ratios?
How many participants are going to be involved?
How much time is allotted for the event?
How many widgets do we need to do this activity with this group?
How big a space is needed?
This generates the “to do” list that supports the activities aimed at the qualitative and quantitative outcomes.
Do we go outside?
How far is the venue from OA? What are our transportation needs? Do we provide refreshments?
There Are Tasks Along the Way:
Make appropriate reservations Recruit staff
Arrange for parking Address any access issues
Check that the gear is available and in working order Get your liability waivers signed, if need be
Notify maintenance crews (you don’t want the sprinklers to come on!)
Schedule leadership team meetings
Your event is unique – there may be other things to do… Please click for the Planning and interview support document
ALP Certification Curriculum – Ice Breakers
ALP Ice Breakers are fun and informative activities designed to help people get acquainted. They serve to accelerate formation of teams by helping people learn each another’s names, get people chatting and find things in common.
Name-games and get-to-know icebreakers are indispensable when working with newly formed groups. On the other hand, they are a waste of time with groups that have been together and know one another.
Although icebreakers also help to warm up the group, often, additional specific warm-up activities are valuable and should be included in the plan. These include activities that warm and stretch the muscles and help people ramp up to greater challenges. Many teambuilding activities can be used to warm-up the group.
Here is a list of icebreakers you can find in the Resources:
Initiatives and Trust Building
Teambuilding Activities are often broken into two main activity groups.
These activities require the group to work together to find a solution to a problem or reach a well-defined goal. The props and equipment are simple, and solutions range from simple to complex. The key is that the activity cannot be performed, nor the goal reached without group members working together. Examples include bullring and chasm crossing.
Activities designed to require members of a group to rely on one another, often the activity is perceived as high risk. Examples include trust falls, willow in the wind and leading blindfolded participants.
Here’s a list of teambuilding activities found in the Resources:
Each resource includes a description of one of these activities. The pages can stand alone as a resource for that particular activity. You will find a copy of each of these descriptions within the teambuilding loaner kits.
Here is what is included in the Resources:
ALP Certification Curriculum – ALP Kits
The gear required to conduct each activity is included in the portable “ALP Kit”.
Kits are inventoried each time they are loaned out and each time they are returned to assure everything you need is included.
Additional equipment is also available including:
Explore the urban setting and discover the beauty and grit of Denver including art, archeological and historical sites surrounding campus. Join students for mellow social walks in the city and on the trail.
CityScape summer 2022
|CityScape||Friday, 8/5 noon-2p||OPC**||Included*|
|CityScape||Friday, 8/12 noon-2p||OPC**||Included*|
Located in the fitness center, the climbing wall is open when the fitness center is open (Monday-Friday 7am-7pm). Stop by and check it out – we hope you will find it welcoming, interesting and challenging.
Please call or visit to schedule climbing wall instruction and skills checks.
Route setting summer schedule:
|Climbing Wall Route Setting
|Thursdays, 7/7, 7/21, 7/28
|Climbing Wall Route Setting
|Wednesdays, 8/3, 8/10
The Campus Recreation climbing wall provides the MSU Denver Campus community a place to gather, meet other climbers, boulder, top rope and learn to rock climb.
A modest wall, 22 feet high and 40 feet wide, provides approximately 900 square feet of climbing space.
Located in the Fitness Center, the climbing wall is open any time the fitness center is open.
The climbing wall is for all levels from beginner to expert.
Student groups, such as classes, clubs, program staff or just a group of friends, are encouraged to contact us to set up events. Examples of events include start of semester kick-off, end of semester celebrations, teambuilders and skills classes. These can be custom designed and scheduled to meet your needs.
We welcome and encourage students to participate in route setting events. Check the OP schedule or contact us to learn more.
Climbing Wall Route Setting Policies,
Procedures and Guidelines
Welcome to the Outdoor Pursuits (OP) climbing wall route setting gathering. Our goal is to reset routes once each semester. This includes removing all holds, inspecting and replacing damaged holds and resetting the wall with new routes.
Each course setting gathering is intended to provide students of the Auraria Campus with opportunities to create original routes, gain experience and knowledge of route setting and get to know others with common interests.
We recognize that Outdoor Pursuits, including the climbing wall, is a student resource. As such, we make every effort to make the climbing wall as accessible as possible while maintaining a safe and welcoming environment.
Thank you for volunteering!
Route setting volunteer and staff guidelines
Refer to and follow the OP Climbing Wall Route Setting Policies, Procedures and
Route setting is climbing and is subject to all the risks associated with climbing. Wall waivers are required. If you have not read and signed a waiver, please ask for assistance at the desk or from OA staff.
Located in PE 002, the Outdoor Pursuits Center (OPC) provides a place to hang out and talk gear and adventure. The OPC is staffed by-students, for-students.
We are in the process of returning to full OPC operations this fall.
Summer Shop Hours are Monday-Friday 10am-2pm
Item Rental Fees (Tax Included)
|Cook Kit – (backpacking pan kit)||4.00||5.00||9.00|
|Crazy Creek Chair||3.00||4.00||7.00|
|Headlamp – (batteries not included)||3.00||4.00||7.00|
|Helmet – (aquatic, bike & climbing)||3.00||4.00||7.00|
|PFD – (aka life jacket)||5.00||7.00||14.00|
|Stand Up Paddleboard||No||longer||available|
|Stove – (two-burner for car camping)||7.00||12.00||20.00|
|Tent – (1 person)||4.00||7.00||14.00|
|Tent – (2 person)||7.00||12.00||20.00|
|Tent – (3 – 4 person)||12.00||18.00||32.00|
The Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) rental shop is the place where student staff work to plan and prepare for the stuff we do outside – canyoneering, rock and ice climbing, snowshoeing, hiking, etc. It also provides students with a place to meet one another and share their interests in the outdoors.
The OAC rental shop is student fee supported, staffed by students, and serves MSU Denver with affordable rentals of high quality outdoor gear.
Please visit the OAC located in the PE/Event Center,
Room 002 or call 303-615-1499
for more information
Daily, On-campus use is free
Personal use, off-campus rentals: Weekend – $7 Weekly – $11
Welcome to the ever growing and evolving Outdoor Pursuits online resources page – OP Online. Included are close-by places to visit, resources and knowledge about safe travel in the back-country, outdoor skills and ways to engage and connected to the outdoors while staying safe.
OP Online schedule coming Fall 2022
Avalanche Information and Safety Training
Avalanche Awareness Online
Avalanche slideshow video
Pause the video to read the captions.
Take a level One Avi course from us or another reputable source like the American Avalanche Association.
Know before you go.
Understand your motives and decision making tendencies from a hindsight perspective.
Keep learning and be safe.
Avalanche Awareness 2021 (click to download PDF)
The OP Online avalanche awareness slideshow based on the Four Factors:
Weather – Snowfall, Wind, Temperature|
Terrain – Slope aspect, Signs, Terrain traps
Snowpack – Layers, Bonding, Stability, Evaluation
Human – Decisions, Equipment, Survival, Rescue
Avalanche and Mountain Weather Phenomena
Discussion with Thomas
Panel Discussion with Thomas Horner, Founder of Highpoint Weather [ https://highpointwx.com/ ] , discusses the Dyatlov Pass incident and new theories that seem to solve the decades-old mystery of how nine winter mountaineers perished on the Russian peak, Holatchahl (meaning Dead Mountain). The mystery includes missing eye balls and severed tongues. Other topics include avalanche and weather phenomena.
Avalanche instruction and certification:
Excellent content for all levels of back-country enthusiasts and snow science geeks.
Topics related to travel to and into the Colorado backcountry for all four seasons
Intro to Backpacking 1st episode
Intro to Backpacking One
Getting started is the hardest part. This series is intended to put things into perspective and make getting started “do-able” and fun. We include lessons learned and tips for beginners.
Intro to Backpacking Two
Leave No Trace and Lessons Learned.
Intro to Backpacking Three
Technology in the Outdoors
Tech outdoors video
Professionals, including geospatial specialist, meteorologist and outdoor educators discuss the pros and cons of technology in the outdoors.
Intro to Backcountry Cooking
Backcountry Cooking Intro
Get an overview of cooking with a single-burner stove.
Tune and Wax a Snowboard
Tune and Wax Video
Including articles, organizations, podcasts, TedTalks,
locations to visit and academic sources.
Student research and internship project
Diversity in the Great Outdoors: Is Everyone Welcome in America’s Parks and Public Lands?
This article talks about the racial inequality of people visiting public lands, and the barriers behind this, as well as strategies for moving forward.
Why National Parks Accessibility Matters
This article talks about the efforts that the National Park Service is making to become more inclusive and accessible, through changing the internal culture, expanding outreach and education, and improving affordability.
Mount Evans Commemorates More Than One Colorado Tragedy
Mt. Evans was named after Governor John Evans who played a large role in the Sand Creek Massacre. Work has been done to change the mountain’s name, but has not yet been successful. Other places in Colorado are named after racist figures as well, such as Stapleton in Denver.
Bringing Outdoor Recreation to Native Americans
This article is from the Adventure Journal, and talks about efforts to bring Native Americans into the outdoors. It focuses on Marshall Masayeva, who grew up on the Hopi reservation, majored in outdoor education, and started a nonprofit called Adventures for Hopi. The goal of the organization is to get Hopi kids outside and Hopi guides to take them. This program takes kids on all sorts of adventures, and students can go for free in exchange for community service on the reservation. The ultimate goal of the organization is to incorporate outdoor recreation into reservation culture, leading to economic development.
Numerology: Native Rights
This article talks about Native American’s ancestral connection to the outdoors, and how they often get left out of conversations about wilderness, wildlife, recreation, and conservation.
Tracing the Native American Roots of Natural Icons in the US
This article focuses on Jalyn Gough who grew up on the Navajo reservation, and grew up climbing, hiking, and biking on the reservation. After college she realized how much she needed the outdoors in her life, and in 2017 founded the “Whose Land Are We Exploring On” initiative. This initiative was to make the Native American’s historical connection to the land a mainstream part of the outdoor industry.
I Am Not Just Another Hiker
Shilletha Curtis is a Black, queer person who plans on hiking the Appalachian Trail. The article talks about the fears of being a Black hiker in the South, and how white privilege plays into hiking.
Colorado Woman Hikes 485 Miles from Denver to Durango
Patricia Cameron hiked the entire Colorado Trail. She is the founder of Colorado Blackpackers, a nonprofit organization addressing gaps in representation outdoors. They provide gear, outdoor excursions, and education for free or reduced cost, and participants also get volunteer, internship, and job opportunities.
“The Only Black Person Out There:” Patricia Cameron Encourages Others After Completing 485 Mile Colorado Trail
Patricia Cameron took 7 weeks to hike the Colorado Trail to bring awareness to the barriers to hiking and to inspire other people of color to get out on the trails.
The Blackalachian: First Gold-Mouth Rapper to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail
This article talks about Will “Akuna” Robinson, the first African American man to complete the triple crown of long distance hiking.
Backpacking in America as a Person of Color: Hikers Share Their Experiences
This article discusses different people of color’s experiences backpacking in the US. They talk about both positive and negative experiences during their time on the trail, and barriers that stop people of color from backpacking.
Closing the Gender Gap in the Great Outdoors
This blog post is about the challenges girls and women face in getting outdoors, and the difference between male and female participation, and the potential reasons behind it, and strategies for change and the importance of change.
Next 100 Coalition
The Next 100 Coalition is an organization with an inclusive vision for the next 100 years of conservation and stewardship in America. National public lands play a big part in protecting the environment and culture, but a lot of people do not enjoy the benefits of them. The Next 100 Coalition’s guiding principles are for the public lands to reflect the faces of the country, respect for all cultures, and the responsibility to engage all people.
Melanin Basecamp’s purpose is to inspire diversity in outdoor adventure sports with content from Black, Brown, Asian, Indigenous, and Queer People of color. Their website includes featured bloggers, trip reports, gear reviews, and more.
Diversify Outdoors is a coalition of social media influencers who all want to promote diversity in outdoor recreation and conservation.
Every Kid Outdoors
Every Kid Outdoors is a federal public lands youth initiative to get all 4th graders and their families to public lands. They provide every 4th grade family with free national parks passes.
Open Outdoors for Kids
Open Outdoors for Kids connects kids to nature through outdoor activities, experiential learning, and cultural heritage exercises.
National Brotherhood of Skiers
This organization was founded in 1973 in order to get a black skier on the US ski team. It is now a collection of ski clubs.
Slippers and Sliders (Colorado)
Slippers and Sliders, located in Denver, was one of the founding clubs National Brotherhood of skiers.
Colorado Blackpacker’s mission is to provide outdoor gear, trips, and education for free or for a lower cost, to connect participants with volunteer internship, and job opportunities and resources, and to create economic equity in outdoor recreation. This organization was founded by Patricia Cameron in 2019.
City Kids is an organization that bring DC students to Jacksonhole, Wyoming during the summer, after preparing through programs in Rockville, Maryland. City kids don’t necessarily have outdoor opportunities, and many of them are kids of color. This trip is low cost, and is for middle and high school students. The program also has tutoring, support, and job training programs.
Adventures for Hopi
The goal of the organization is to get Hopi kids outside and Hopi guides to take them. This program takes kids on all sorts of adventures, and students can go for free in exchange for community service on the reservation. The organization teaches kids lessons about culture, biology, and job skills. The ultimate goal of the organization is to incorporate outdoor recreation into reservation culture, leading to economic development.
This is a Native American owned outdoor apparel and media company. Their mission is to empower indigenous communities through products and storytelling, to work towards a sustainable world. The organization started as a social media project telling stories of Native people in outdoor recreation to address the lack of representation. Now they advise and consult with the outdoor industry on the intersections between tribes, public lands, and outdoor recreation. They work with tribal governments, community organizations, and individuals to increase access to outdoor recreation and connect people to resources and opportunities in the outdoors.
Black Outside, Inc.
The mission of this organization, based in San Antonio, TX, is to reconnect Black/African American youth to the outdoors through culturally relevant outdoor experiences. They aim for their participants to explore themselves, their culture, and the outdoors. They have an overnight camp for black girls, Camp Founder Girls, the Bloom Project, which helps heal youth impacted by incarceration, and more.
Camp Founder Girls
This camp is America’s first Black summer camp for girls, resurrected in 2019.
Wild Diversity, based in Oregon, aims to welcome and create a sense of belonging in the outdoors for BIPOC and LGBtQ+ communities. Their programs include outdoor adventures, outdoor education, and community workshops.
LatinXhikers inspires more people of color to go outdoors through storytelling and outreach.
Unlikely Hikers Spotify Podcast
This podcast talks about diverse stories from people in underrepresented groups in outdoor media and culture.
She Explores Spotify Podcast
This podcast tell stories of women who are inspired by the outdoors, covering many topics as they intersect with the outdoors.
Wild Ideas Worth Living Podcast REI
Starting a Movement to Encourage Diversity in the Outdoors with Karen Ramos and Adriana Garcia:
Karen Ramos and Adriana Garcia are the founder of Latinx Hikers, and in this podcast (Wild Ideas Worth Living by REI) they talk about their experiences leading them to become passionate about the issue of diversity outdoors, and how they came to found this organization.
How to Overcome Our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them
Verna Myers, a diversity advocate, talks about how our biases towards out groups can be dangerous and deadly. She talks about how to acknowledge your biases and move towards overcoming them.
Recolor the Outdoors
Alex Bailey, the founder of Black Outside, Inc, speaks about how the outdoors is not a diverse space currently, and the benefits of spending time in nature. He talks about both the tragic and triumphant histories of people of color in the outdoors.
Your Style of Outdoor
Mercy M’Fon, the founder of the organization Wild Diversity, talks about the history of people of color in the outdoors, and the barriers people of color face in getting outdoors. There are many different ways to get outdoors – not just those defined by the outdoor industry.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park was established to preserve the heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people. This park, located in southwestern Colorado is full of archeological sites and cliff dwellings. There is camping and hiking in the park, as well as guided tours.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is in southwestern Colorado. This monuments contains many Native American archeological sites dating back to 10,000 years ago. The Pueblos were one of the tribes that lived there. There is also a visitor center and museum.
Chimney Rock National Monument
Chimney Rock National Monument is a Pueblo archeological site in southwestern Colorado. There are archeological structures, artifacts, and wildlife in this beautiful national monument.
Hovenweep National Monument
Hovenweep National Monument has six prehistoric villages, and is a Native American archeological site for many tribes, especially the Pueblo. You can hike, camp, and stargaze in this national monument located partially in southwestern Colorado and partially in southeastern Utah.
Yucca House National Monument
Yucca House National Monument is located in southwestern Colorado and is an unexcavated Ancestral Pueblo site. There are no signs, facilities, or information, so be sure to print out the visitor guide before you go.
Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park
Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park is an archeological Native American site on tribal land in southwestern Colorado. Various types of tours of this park are available with Ute guides, catering to more active and less active groups, and groups who want to see remote parts of the park. Camping is also allowed, and transportation into the park is provided.
Crow Canyon Archeological Center
Crow Canyon Archeological site is located in southwestern Colorado, and does archeological research and experiential education programs about Native Americans. They offer tours as well as archeology and lab programs. They encourage citizen scientists to participate in the archeological process. Their education programs include one day trips for schools and overnight programs. They also offer summer camps and programs for adults.
Southern Ute Museum
The Southern Ute Museum, also known as the Southern Ute Tribe Cultural Center, is on tribal land in southwestern Colorado. The museum educates about and celebrates Ute Native Americans, Colorado’s longest continuous residents. Tours are self-guided, and behind the scenes guided tours and school group tours are also offered. There are also events and temporary galleries.
Ute Indian Museum
This museum connects history to current Ute life and culture. It is located in Montrose, Colorado.
Trail of the Ancients
The Trail of the Ancients is a 116 mile long scenic byway in southwestern Colorado, goes through Native American historical sites, including Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep National Monument. The byway continues to Utah’s Trail of the Ancients.
The Gendering of Outdoor Recreation: Women’s Experiences on their Path to Leadership
Participation of women in outdoor recreation is growing, but white men still dominant the face of outdoors recreation. One explanation for this could be the effects of gender socialization. Participating in outdoor recreation has physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits, and since there are fewer women involved, there are fewer women benefiting.
Adolescent Girls and Outdoor Recreation: A Case Study Examining Constraints and Effective Programming
In this study, focus groups and individuals were interviewed. There were 34 adolescent girls interviewed, six female outdoor program leaders, and five adult women. The constraints to women participating in outdoor recreation include stereotypical gender roles, differences in opportunities for men and women, peer and family expectations, access, and physical and environmental factors. Outdoor programs help girls to overcome these constraints. This study was meant to show the constraints and how outdoor programming can overcome them.
Home-Grown Racism: Colorado’s Historic Embrace – And Denial-of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
This paper talks about the history of racism in Colorado, its impacts on the state, including higher education, up until the modern day.
Recreation Equity: Is the Forest Service Serving Its Diverse Public?
This research article talks about how racial minorities don’t use Forest Service opportunities at the same rate as white people. It talks about the barriers to public lands and outdoor recreation, the importance of involvement for everyone, and strategies for moving forward.
Linking the 2010 Census to National Park Visitors
This study compared visitor characteristics from the Visitor Service Project survey with census data, to find that National Park visitors are more highly educated than the general public, with higher income, and whiter.
National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Survey Results: 2010/2011
This survey was done on 53 wildlife refuges, to understand visitor needs and experiences, in order to design programs and facilities. Visitors to these refuges were largely white, with a higher income and education level than the general public.
2019 Outdoor Participation Report
This report was done by the Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic branch of the Outdoor Industry Association. This report talked about the growth and declines in diverse groups participating.
People of Color and Their Constraints to National Park Visitation
This paper talks about how people of color visit National Parks disproportionately less than white people, and how the survival of the national parks depends on making them welcoming and relevant to the changing population. The paper goes through constraints to national park visitation and discrimination in the outdoors, and the roots of all this.
Racial Complexities of Outdoor Spaces: An Analysis of African American’s Lived Experiences in Outdoor Recreation
This thesis talks about how African Americans experience the outdoors, and the historical, economic, and cultural factors.
Challenging the Narrative and Amplifying Voices: Resources for Education and Inclusivity in the Outdoor Industry
This link includes a list of videos to watch, and articles and books to read about diversity in the outdoors.
To learn to kayak, take lessons and find a partner and learn together
Progress is earned | Kayaking can be dangerous | Take it slow | Be real
These resources are intended to support correct execution of skills – not to teach how to river kayak. Learn from a pro.
Video One – Kayak Parts and Shapes
Kayak video one
Video Two – River Hazards
Man Made Hazards Video
Learn to recognize river hazards, scout before you paddle any section of river. Never practice skill upstream of river hazards.
Video Three – Pollution
Clear Creek pollution foaming up
Urban waterways and boat parks are popular kayak locations – be aware of and scout for pollution. Common pollutants include fertilizers from lawns and golf courses, oil from streets washed in by rain and human waist. All are best avoided.
Video Four – The Paddle
Offset paddles are the standard for river kayaking. You will notice the offset right away and at first, it is one of the more confounding aspects of learning to paddle. With careful observation, a little practice and after a few errors, you will master the wrist rotation and the offset paddle. At that time you will fully embrace the virtues of offset paddles.
Video five – River Hazards- Low Head Dams
Low Head Dam
Low head dams present very real danger to kayakers. Give them a wide berth, don’t attempt to boat them and don’t practice skills just above a low head dam. What’s going on that makes these so deadly? The fact that there are strong and uniform recirculation that traps people and boats.
Video six – Straight Stroke
Making a river kayak go straight is the hardest thing – river kayaks are designed to turn, or more specifically, to spin on a vertical axis. The curved bottom or your kayak does nothing to guide the boat on a straight course (compare to sea kayaks, motor boats and ships with V-shaped hulls that make them go straight, and hence, take a long time to turn). The need to change course while kayaking a river rapid is constant – the curved bottom facilitates that. So, to make your river kayak go in a (mostly) straight line, think about pulling the kayak rather than pushing – this is accomplished by sitting tall in the cockpit, leaning forward and reaching out and starting your stroke near the bow and finishing the stroke near the middle of the kayak. The bow will pitch left and right with every stroke – this is inevitable – so each stroke includes an element of correcting your line.
Straight stroke thoughts:
Think of each paddle placement as a placement into cement and pulling your kayak forward
Use the whole paddle on every stroke
The moment you stop “pulling” strokes, your kayak will spin out (barring other stroke inputs)
So, pivot your kayak and put the bow on an object (tree or rock) proximal to the course you plan to follow, make a stroke, pitching the bow off of the object, then make a stroke on the other side of the boat, bringing the bow back toward and then past the object, repeat, repeat, repeat – each new stroke will require less course correction as speed and momentum is acquired.
Video Seven – Accelerating Straight Stroke
Accelerating Straight Stroke Video
The accelerating straight stroke is used to gain momentum to facilitate entering and exiting and crossing river current features such as waves, holes and eddy fences. All the same principals of the straight stroke (above) apply with the addition of a more aggressive stroke. To add speed in a short distance, as is often needed, lean forward, shifting your weight toward the bow and assuming an aggressive, athletic stance. Make tension in your legs so that you feel pressure in you sit-bones on the seat, knees on the braces, heels on the floor and balls of your feet on the bulkhead or pegs. This “locks” you into the boat, using the boat for leverage and assures the power of each stroke is transferred to paddle. In this position, the kayak response is immediate and there is a feeling of being one with the boat. Remember to offer the bottom of your boat to the current, correct your line on every stroke and make use of the full paddle face.
Video Eight – Bow and Stern Draw (turning the kayak)
Bow and Stern-draw Video
Spinning the boat on the vertical axis is the goal. In this video, the kayaker is stationary, but the same strokes apply to spinning a moving kayak to point in a new direction to propel toward or away from a river feature. As the names imply, bow and stern draw strokes, pull (draw) the front or back (bow or stern) of the kayak toward the paddle face. Always keep in mind, we want to use the power face of the paddle for (nearly) all strokes. Notice the paddle position is changed on each stroke so that the kayaker is using the power face, and as much of the power face as possible to gain the greatest affect from each stroke. The power of the draw strokes comes from the core, so think about spinning the boat while maintaining the position of the paddle in the water. Torque the torso to create potential, place the paddle and uncoil. You should feel pressure in the lower-body kayak-touch-points – hips, sit-bones, knees, heels and feet.
Video Nine – Draw Stroke (moving the kayak left and right)
Draw Stroke Video
The goal of the draw stroke is to move the kayak left and right without rotating on the vertical axis – so the direction of the bow does not change as we draw the kayak laterally. Using the power face, reach out and, using as much of the paddles as possible, pull your hips toward the paddle. Just before the paddle contacts the side of the kayak, either turn the paddle 45 degrees or lift the paddle from the water – then move the paddle to the first position and repeat (or make different stroke to move forward, etc.). You’ll learn to make subtle adjustments to the position and angle of the paddle so that the kayak is drawn sideways rather than turned. It takes practice. Remember to offer the bottom of your kayak to the current – drawing to the right (paddle on the right side), you should feel pressure on your left sit-bone and right knee. The power of this stroke comes from the upper body and the movement of the paddle. A sculling stroke can also accomplish a draw stroke effect.
Videos Ten and Eleven – Sculling Draw Stroke
Sculling draw stroke 1
Sculling Draw Stroke
To draw the kayak laterally with a sculling stroke, the paddle remains in the water and actively moved fore to aft and aft to fore while alternating the angle of the paddle blade so that water is displaced toward the kayak. The sculling position includes the advantage of offering a high-brace position allowing the kayaker to lean toward the paddle creating a stable “tripod” position – once mastered. Sculling on the right side of the kayak, you should feel pressure on the left thigh-brace and heal/foot/bulkhead and on the right seat-bone (mirrored for the left side scull draw).
OP Knot List and Videos
Figure eight follow-through (retraced figure eight)
Retraced figure eight video
This is the classic harness tie in knot. It is often the first knot learned and is the most commonly used for climbing, canyoneering and mountaineering. At Outdoor Pursuits, we teach this knot on all our rope-access sport courses as an essential and basic skill.
Figure eight on a bight (Flemish bend, figure eight on a loop)
Video link (coming soon)
This knot is useful make a loop attachment point to clip to or to attached a rope to an anchor.
Video link (coming soon)
Tied in the ends of the rappel rope, the stopper knot prevents accidental rappelling off the end of the rope. Also, when tied to the belay-side of the rope in top-rope and single pitch scenarios, a blocker knot prevents the break strand from passing through the belay device while lowering thus, preventing dropping the climber.
Overhand (flat overhand)
Video link (coming soon)
Video link (coming soon)
This is a hitch with many applications. It is quick to create and undo and has the added benefit of being easily adjusted for varying length needs. The clove hitch, while not common in gym or single pitch sport climbing, is common in advanced anchor building, multi pitch and trad climbing settings.
Video link (coming soon)
Swiss Seat Improvised Harness
Video link (coming soon)
Video link (coming soon)
Video link (coming soon)
Video link (coming soon)
Optional second knot – double overhand
This knot is often tied after the follow through figure 8 and as a backup for other knots. Referring to this knot as a backup when it is tied after a follow through figure 8 is a misnomer because a properly tied follow through figure 8 does not need a backup. For this reason, the double overhand backup is widely considered to be unnecessary and is no longer taught or used by Outdoor Pursuits rope access activities. It is good to know because many climbers still use the second knot and some climbing gyms still require it.
Anything trails-related from local tours to construction to the zen of trails and being outside
Getting Started With Hiking 14ers
Starting 14er Video
Learn how to get started hiking Colorado 14,000 foot peaks from accomplished 14er hiker (climbed all 54 peaks) and MSU Denver professor, David Kramer. This includes all the basics you need to know plus special insights to make your adventures more successful and rewarding.
Modern Recreational Trail Design OP Online Podcast
Modern Recreational Trail Design video link
Check out our trails discussion with geologist, certified geospatial specialist, drone pilot, professional trails contractor, project manager and MSU grad, David “Barney” Barnett. Topics include careers, planning, bike features, environmental and archaeological impacts and modern tools and construction techniques.
Recommended reading: On Trails by Robert Moor, https://www.robertmoor.com/
Forecasting weather – afternoon thunder showers – this short video shows the warning signs of gathering summer afternoon thunder storms that can come in quickly and present risk of lightning strikes.
Walk Along the Ice Park – Check out the view from the top of the Ouray Ice Park.
Hiking above Castle Rock – close encounter with a Cooper’s Hawk
Coopers Hawk Swoops In
33 seconds of a Peaceful Waterfall.
The Human Anchor video shows rappelling while the rope is anchored to humans.
Get qualified instruction if you are interested in technical canyoneering.
Forecasting and Safety
Thunder clouds short video
Thunder storms are common in the Colorado mountains and plains. They can appear quit suddenly, rolling in from the west with storm clouds rising tens of thousands of feet in just minutes. The energy contained in some of the storm cells is tremendous and the inevitable lightning can be deadly.
https://highpointwx.com/ (link to website)
“Weather forecasts for the recreating in the Colorado high country — mountains, ski resorts, and crags.”
I follow through on my figure 8 knot, tracing the rope in the opposite direction, shifting every loop so it lines up perfectly then pull it tight. I finish the knot and check my partners belay device while she checks my knot and harness. We assert our readiness with a final verbal check and then I am off.
Hands and feet in place I begin the climb. By now I know the movement and the holds well, I have attempted this climb many times. After a large huck-to-a-crimp on the right, I work my feet up the wall and then move left through a series of small but positive holds. I come to the first draw and let out a long breath. As I reach down I focus solely on that draw, exhaling the fear and distraction. The second the rope is clipped in to the draw I begin to move through in a state of flow.
I have done this climb many times. I know the sequence by hart. I know how to make each move as efficiently as possible to avoid using any extra energy. I know the best places to put my hands and feet on each hold and I know where my center of gravity should be for every move. I float through to the second draw, clip the rope and pause to shake out. I carry on from here, getting my foot to a small hold out right, pulling up with my left arm and rotating my body as I reach with my right to the next hold. A pinch that I grab in the exact location I had intended. From there I move through a series pinches. Straight up from there for a while, and then back to the right on a series of slopers, using a heel hook to stabilize myself. I come to the seventh draw and clip the rope.
I shake out as best I can, switching from left to right dipping my fingers in the chalk bag on my back. This is the last draw before the anchors, my forearms are burning and I am trying desperately to regain control of my breath. I need to move, I have 2 more meters and 4 more moves to the top and even though I am resting I am still using energy to stay on the wall.
This particular route has saved the best for last, to get to the finishing hold I have to get past the biggest and most powerful move of the climb. From my rest position I cross to a crimp and then bump my hand a bit further to a slightly higher, slightly more positive crimp. From there I work my feet up the wall and move my right hand to a side pull just above the previous two crimps. In what seems like one seamless move I reach my left hand to an undercling at waist height, I walk my feet over to the left and pull in and up with all my strength.
This is it, the last big move, my right finger tips make contact with the bottom corner edge of the hold. I am able to hold myself on the wall for a moment, right hand almost secure on the finishing hold. But then I feel the strength in my hand give way. I fall through the air, then I feel the weight of my bleayer on the other end of the rope and I hear the sound of my knot tighten and then I am dangling.
Suspended in midair, defeated once again. My belayer lowers me to the ground and I am struck by a feeling of accomplishment. No, I didn’t get a clean send this time, but I got closer. I have tried this climb many times. I have fallen and gotten back on and fallen again. Each time I eventually get to the top but never without falling. This is the closest I’ve been, and even if it wasn’t a send, it was still progress.
By Bryan Ferguson
All too often (maybe even all the time?) outdoor educators, outdoor leaders and outdoor enthusiasts present a paradigm of outdoor participation that includes a heavy burden of gear, fitness, training and knowledge that makes it impossible for some of us get out there and enjoy nature.
While not everyone will agree with that premise and my proposition, I will suggest that we can and should work with intention to change this message and encourage everyone to go outside and enjoy nature.
As good as getting outside and walking gently through the woods is for me, it would be selfish of me not to share the opportunity with others, and to be intentional about not presenting barriers. Beyond that and most importantly to me is to work within my outdoor education sphere to reduce the barriers for others. It’s within that spirit that I propose barrier-free entre into the world of nature and all it has to offer.
For starters, we can choose to go to places that are close to home, that are not remote, isolated and scary and where no special gear is required. Just going out for a walk among trees, plants, fresh air and open space, a gental walk in nature.
So, with this in mind, here’s a gear list for a gentle walk in nature. Not essential but suggested
Appropriate warm/cool weather comfortable clothes
Water bottle or bottle of water
Here’s my list of the essentials for a gentle walk in the woods
Critical thinking that supports decision making
Get hooked on movement
I’m hooked on movement and when I got sick a few years ago, that “addiction” saved my life. The notion of being hooked on movement not only provides life-enhancements on the margins but it can literally save our lives and can contribute to a life well lived.
It’s nothing extraordinary
I don’t consider anything I have done in the outdoors to be extraordinary. This despite my entire life’s experience in the outdoors, including a life spent learning and teaching in the outdoors. The only thing that is extraordinary is the profound effect the outdoors and nature has had on me and my life. A gentle walk in nature is not extraordinary, by design.
It’s not about working out, strength or fitness
We want to make sure we don’t confuse a gentle walk in nature with a trip to the gym. While there might be personal health benefits to working out, getting out there does not need to include a cardio workout to be of value. A gentle walk is not a workout, by design.
It’s not about advancing our skills and commitment
Meet yourself where you are and discover how you experience joy in nature. It is not about progressing to mountain climbing – unless that’s what you want, of course. It is about experiencing nature, engaging with nature, touching nature. There are no prerequisites or post-requisites. A gentle walk is not about advancing our skills, by design.
Get nature into our lives
Exploring and being aware of plants, clouds, the surface underfoot, sounds of birds, sounds of our footsteps, shapes and colors of leaves and flowers, feeling the breeze, smelling air that is free of city pollution, walking on a trail while mostly unobstructed by other walkers, cars, streets and curbs. Being aware of our foot placement on irregular surfaces – unpaved surfaces, gravel, rocks and roots.
Principles of a gentle walk in nature
It is a fair weather activity for starters
Moving among nature including flora, fauna, ground and sky
Touching nature, literally touching trees and other plants, but not poison ivy I hope!
Observing and acknowledging plants and how they are similar and different
Becoming the foremost expert on you
Meet yourself where you are
No special gear required
Jefferson County Open Space Parks
Douglas County Open Space Parks
Castle Rock Open Space Parks
By Bryan Ferguson
Castle Rock area
Clear Creek Trail Corridor Through Denver and Golden
The Colorado Chautauqua
Deer Creek Canyon
Eldorado Canyon State Park
There is just one short period of time each year when traffic on I-70 rivals the busiest ski days and that is when our beloved quaking aspen turn from green to spectacular shades of yellow – the fall foliage show. While I would never deny the value of a trip to the higher mountains for fall colors, I would like to suggest these excellent alternative (or complimentary, if you prefer) fall foliage experiences. So, stay low for a fall foliage show.
While going higher has its benefits, staying low and close to home saves drivetime, extends the season and helps reduce our carbon output. Staying low and close to home also allows for a quick, one- or two-hour weekday get-away. These options also avoid the weekend crowds and parking hassles at our more popular trailheads.
High in the mountains, we often glimpse the overstory from a distance. By staying low, we still get to see spectacular overstory fall colors, but we can also look low to find special fall colors in the diverse understory. While there is much to appreciate in the vivid yellow overstory, there are many plants with changing fall foliage to appreciate in the understory; dogwood and it’s amazing shades of red, the yellows of rabbitbrush, purples of the late-blooming dotted Gayfeather, bright whites of various bursting seed pods, an amazing range of colors of Mountain Mahogany, Rocky Mountain maple, Choke Cherry, Clematis and the surprising greens of Bearberry. Be sure to pause and look closely for mosses, mushrooms, and lichens.
At the lower elevations of these locations, autumn canopy colors come mostly from cottonwood, willow, boxelder, gamble oak while at the higher elevations of our locations, we can spot the quaking aspen.
Best viewing times are early to mid-morning and early evening. The north-facing slopes tend be more lush, have more diverse plant species and therefore, more variety of fall colors.
It’s important to recognize times passages and to celebrate the passing of the season and the beginning of the new fall season so I hope you get out and enjoy the drama of Colorado’s lower elevation fall foliage.
Links to how to get there and information:
Castle Rock area
Clear Creek Trail Corridor Through Denver and Golden
The Colorado Chautauqua
Deer Creek Canyon
https://www.jeffco.us/1208/Deer-Creek-Canyon-Park This link is specific to the park but it also provides the location for Deer Creek Canyon
Eldorado Canyon State Park
Golden Gate Canyon
https://www.jeffco.us/1335/Mount-Galbraith-Park This is a link to Mount Galbraith Park located in Golden Gate Canyon
Colorado State Forrest – https://csfs.colostate.edu/
Colorado State University – https://extension.colostate.edu/
Inaturalist – https://www.inaturalist.org/
The Tree by Colin Tudge
As we walk along the path, the leaves crunch under our feet. It is a beautiful crisp morning late in fall.
Movement in a nearby bush catches Lola’s attention. She cocks her head and watches until the source of the noise is visible. When a squirrel finally leaps out, sees us and scampers away she wags her tail in excitement. Now that the mystery has been solved we continue on our walk.
As the sun grows higher in the sky and the air loses its chill from the night before I begin to notice another sound. Sounds I should say, because it is a chorus of birds greeting the morning. I can hear Black-billed Magpies Chattering in the distance, the ever-present chirping of house finches surrounding me, the occasional tweet of a Black-cap Chickadee as it fly overhead and sometimes, if I am lucky, I hear the “yank-yank” call of a Red-breasted Nuthatch. One of the most adorable birds, in my opinion.
Squirrels and rabbits rustle in the leaves and the whole day seems to be awakening from a long slumber.
Lola and I have been spending most of our mornings this way. Because I am no longer taking the hour long train ride into the city every day for school, and because most of my social obligations are now void, I have found myself with a bit more time on my hands. As daunting and empty as that time seemed at first, my view on it has changed now.
I made the decision to see this empty time as an opportunity to enjoy the moment and the small things in life. Last year, at this time in the morning, I would have been waiting at the train station, nervously checking my emails, wondering if there was anything I had forgotten to do. Now I walk along the streets and sidewalks and paths of my neighborhood. I leave my electronics at home and I allow myself to unplug, if only for a little bit. I take the time to observe the things around me and I am often surprised, especially by the birds.
I don’t live in a remote cabin in the woods where I am alone with nature, I live in a booming suburb, with traffic and construction and all of the other daily noise and distraction. But somehow the birds are still here. They may not be magnificent raptors or exotic song birds, but they are cheerful, charming and diverse and they are finding a way to live in this chaos.
We come to a bench and take a seat, watching a Flicker hop around on the ground in search of breakfast. The sun rises behind us, its rays warming our backs. I take in the world around me, absorbing the sights, smells and sounds.
And for a brief moment in time, amidst all the obstacles and struggles, my mind is still and I have peace.
Here at Outdoor Pursuits we are interested in better understanding the field of outdoor education and recreation including the physics of anchors, the value of participation and different leadership styles, to name a few.
We have tested many different anchor systems, load shares, releasable anchors, slings and knots. We have plans to do more of this type of failure testing. We have a few of our test videos on the Campus Recreation YouTube page here
As this page develops, we will include more information about our tests and share the results of others’ research.
Thanks for visiting. Please forward your reactions and suggestions to Bryan at [email protected].
Thank you for your interest in employment opportunities at Outdoor Pursuits
Please Email Bryan at [email protected] or visit the Outdoor Pursuits Center (OPC) to learn how to get involved in OP this spring semester, following University mandated pandemic protocols.
Scroll through our OP page to see what the program is all about – we employ students in all areas of OP.
OP Individual Staff Meeting Plan
Goal Setting Meeting
Meet to address concerns anytime
End of Employment Meeting
OP Group Meeting Plan
Campus Recreation semi annual In Service (August and January)
OP Semester Kickoff meetings
Spring Trip and Activity Planning (TAP) Meetings
End of Semester Wrap Meeting
Employment at Outdoor Pursuits presents many opportunities and challenges. Most of us who work in outdoor education have a keen interest in developing new skills while improving our existing skills. To support outcomes related to these interests, OP includes a goals-driven element to our employment.
Student staff members, we ask that you develop a set of goals, discuss them with the Associate Director, share them with the group, write them down and use them to enrich the OP workplace and your experience.
More on goals coming soon, but for now, any goal can be considered – practical, measurable and attainable as well as aspirational and hard to measure.
Additional employment resources and assets to be placed here.