Aztec Adventures

Southwest National Parks Tour Camping & Hiking Exploration

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About Southwest National Parks Tour Camping & Hiking Exploration

The Southwestern United States offers some of the most picturesque landscape in America with endless potential for adventure. This expedition will feature diverse and special experiences; from backpacking in Grand Canyon National Park, to camping and exploring the Utah’s unique landscapes of Canyonlands and Arches, to hiking through across cliff-sides and through river-filled slot canyons in Zion National Park, this trip will be the one for a lifetime.

Southwest National Parks Tour Camping & Hiking Exploration


Pre-Trip Meeting: A mandatory pre-trip meeting is held on a weekday evening before your outing. You will meet the leaders and other trip members, as well as cover all details such as weather, menu, safety issues, and clothing requirements.

Day 1: Meet on campus at 8am and leave for Grand Canyon National Park. Expect to arrive at Mather Campground at around 7pm, located in a prime location directly inside the park. Enjoy a delicious dinner and bond that evening while discussing and preparing for a backpacking trip the following day.

Day 2: Depart camp early and hike down to Indian Garden Campground (approx 4.5 miles into the canyon). Set up camp and enjoy a freshly prepared lunch. For those more adventurous trip members, a group can hike down to with river (approx 3 miles away from camp) while another option is to relax and enjoy the scenery of the inside of the Grand Canyon from camp. Later that evening relax and enjoy backpacking meals and sleep under the stars.

Day 3: Wake up early and backpack back up to the rim of the Grand Canyon. Enjoy lunch before driving north to Canyonlands National Park. Arrive at Green River State Park (adjacent to Canyonlands) and appreciate Moab, Utah’s beautiful landscapes while exploring camp before dinner.

Day 4: Head out early for a fun filled day of adventure in Canyonlands National Park, featuring hikes hand picked from experts of the area. Return to camp that evening and reflect upon the day prior to enjoying another delicious Aztec Adventures meal.

Day 5: Take a short drive to Arches National Park and explore the area. Plan to hike some of the park’s most famous trails and enjoy world class views.Have lunch and wish the Moab area goodbye before driving south to Zion National Park. Set up camp at Watchman’s Campground, located in the heart of the park, and eat dinner before preparing to hike The Narrows the next day.

Day 6: Wake up eat a hearty breakfast before gearing up for the Narrows hike. After completing this amazing hike, enjoy the option to either relax and explore Zion’s museums or continue find another trail to trek. Eat dinner that evening and enjoy your last night of adventure before the final hike the next day.

Day 7: Wake up very early and start the Angel’s Landing hike. Note, this hike will seriously challenge those who have a fear of heights! Finish the hike and enjoy lunch afterwards. Start the drive to SDSU around 11am concluding our Southwest National Parks Adventure by arriving back at SDSU late that evening.

Packing List

We are limited on space, and the less stuff you bring, the less you have to carry around. Ask yourself…What would I want in the coldest weather or the hottest weather? Pack to be prepared for both!

Things that should be packed inside your personal day pack
and kept with you inside the van:

  • Small day pack
  • Money for road meals
  • A warm layer
  • Headlamp
  • Travel size pillow
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Camera




  • Sunglasses w/retainer strap
  • Personal stuff — extra contact lenses, chap-stick, sunscreen, baby wipes, baby powder, ear plugs, hand lotion, medications you usually take
  • 2 durable crush proof one liter water bottles or a hydration pack
  • Toilet paper in a Ziploc bag
  • Small, light weight fast drying camp towel



  • Wide brimmed shade hat
  • Beanie / stocking cap
  • Bandana


  • Gloves
  • Mittens


  • Tennis shoes with good ankle support
  • Hiking Socks
  • Hiking Shoes / Boots


  • Winter Parka
  • Cotton or synthetic blend hiking shirt (breathable layer)
  • Cotton or synthetic camp shirt (a clean shirt to wear at camp)
  • Synthetic Long Sleeve Top(s) – Polypro, Capilene, or polyester.
  • Fleece jacket or sweatshirt
  • Sports bra
  • Windbreaker


  • Light weight long pants/ cotton or synthetic hiking pants
  • Rain Pants (Aztec Adventures can provide this if you don’t have your own!)
  • Sweatpants
  • Underwear
  • Synthetic long underwear (top & bottom)

Personal Equipment:
Provided by Aztec Adventures

  • 0? sleeping bag and Thermarest sleeping pad
  • Ground Tarp
  • Tent with rain fly (sleeps 2-3)
  • Head lamp
  • Camp chair
  • Rain gear (if you don’t have your own)
  • Coffee mug, bowl, and utensils
  • Pack Bag: to hold all of the above items PLUS your personal gear and clothes

Group Equipment:
Provided by Aztec Adventures

  • Expedition First Aid Kit
  • Ground Tarp
  • Stoves, fuel and all cooking gear-pots, pans, utensils, spice kit etc.
  • Repair kit for tents, stoves, packs, etc.
  • Water bags — 2+ gallon bags for camp use
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts
  • Satellite Phone
Southwest National Parks Tour Camping & Hiking Exploration


We take great pride in the equipment we provide our trip members. We fully realize that sleeping warm and comfortable, staying dry and being able to see in the dark, just to mention a few items, is essential to a successful and safe trip. We carry top of the line tents, sleeping bags, foam pads, backpacks, dry bags, rain gear, head lamps, wetsuits, spray jackets, and much more. The cost of your trip includes group-gear outfitting.


Aztec Adventures aspires towards a sustainable future. We work hard to prepare meals that are nutritious, delicious and sustainable. Most of our menu consists largely of vegetarian meals as we believe eating lower on the food chain is both healthier for us and the planet in the long run. Our primary goal is to expose and educate our trip members to the joys of eating good food while camping and adventuring. We have found, over many years that our trip members thoroughly enjoy the food we prepare and serve and do not miss a meat centered diet. In addition, when travelling by vehicle to and from our outdoor destinations, we make every effort to stop at locally-family owned restaurants and eateries so as to ensure the majority of the money we spend stays in that community and with the family.

Trip members will have the options to sleep under the stars or in a tent during the nights. We plan on having access to shower facilities during day 3 or 4 of our trip so participants can take a quick shower if they feel the need. Lightweight tents, warm synthetic sleeping bags, foam pads and ground tarps will be provided to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep. Personal hygiene will be addressed at the pre-trip meeting to keep oneself healthy and clean in the wilderness.

Physical Challenge

All of our Aztec Adventure Outings programs have a level of physical challenge associated with the type of activity. Each program is rated on a scale from 0 to 3. A rating score from 0 to 1 indicates our least strenuous adventure reserved mostly for beginners. Moreover, a rating score from 1 to 2 indicates a moderate trip or intermediate level. (most of our trips align with this rating). Finally, a rating score between 2 to 3 refers to strenuous trip or advanced level. We encourage everyone to find a trip that best suits your skills and abilities. Please note the specific trip notes below and any prerequisites announced for this trip.

Trip Members must be comfortable camping in a primitive environment and have a desire to challenge themselves both physically and mentally throughout the week. Trip members should be in good physical condition for hiking on very steep terrain and capable of carrying a daypack with water, lunch and other cold weather essentials. From now until the trip begins, we highly encourage you to get in shape. Locally speaking, if you can comfortably hike up and down Cowles Mountain with a 15 pound pack twice in a matter of a few hours, consider yourself prepared for the hiking portion of this trip.

TRIP RATING  2-3 out of 3

You can expect several fairly moderate to strenuous hikes on this trip. The required hikes will include backpacking down and back up part of the Grand Canyon, The Narrows hike in Zion, Angel’s Landing hike in Zion, as well as hikes in Canyonlands and Arches. There will be several options to relax for those would like to, as well as the option to complete more strenuous hikes for those who want more of a challenge. Please research these hikes if you feel you may not be able to complete them.


Each participant enrolled in an Aztec Camping & Hiking Adventure must be able to carry a day pack weighing approximately 10-15 lbs and be physically fit to hike in three to six mile trail systems.

Our outings take place in remote areas where environmental conditions are uncontrollable. The leaders will try hard to make you aware of potential hazards, both human and environmental to the best of our abilities. Safety is an individual and group responsibility because one person’s careless injury often results in more hardship for the rest of the group not just his/her own. Please, before registering, we strongly request that you carefully read and understand our Assumption of Risk, Liability Waiver, Medical Disclosure Form and Cancellation Policies. Each outing may have prerequisites associated with the type of trip. Be sure to review the specific prerequisites can be found in the Physical Challenge section of your specific trip.

The Associated Students, Inc. of SDSU, Aztec Recreation, Aztec Adventures Outdoor Program and its employees assume no liability for any damages arising from any of our outings. Any person participating on an Aztec Adventures outing is personally responsible for his/her own safety.

There are numerous risks and hazards associated with canyon and high desert hiking. Cactus and other plants, wildlife, insects and the unpredictable weather of the spring season are just a few. However, the most dangerous and common hazard at this time of year is getting too close to the edge of cliffs and canyons. The rock and soil is notoriously loose and many visitors have died from falls where the cliff edge gave way.  Several of our hikes will include walking along a steep cliffside as well as hiking through a river. Not dressing appropriately can result in cold or heat challenges.  Not drinking enough water results in dehydration and not being in adequate physical condition can result in sore muscles.  Trip members must make a conscious effort to be safe.  One person’s disdain for safety will always result in more hardship for the group.  If we do have an accident or injury that requires medical attention beyond the scope of our leader’s experience, the trip is immediately over without refund.  Our leaders are trained to administer first aid in an outdoor environment; however, while they may be able to treat injuries they cannot always prevent them.

Emergency Care

In the event of an accident, injury, illness or missing trip member, the leaders of your outing will attempt to provide first aid to the level of their training and arrange search and evacuation assistance when determined necessary. Our leaders may or may not be carrying communication devices and emergency help may be difficult to arrange. Costs of evacuation or search (helicopter, etc.) and of medical care beyond first aid that is provided by the leaders will be the financial responsibility of the ill or injured person. Emergency services in remote areas are costly. Short term medical and evacuation insurance is advised for those without a comprehensive policy. Please check with your doctor if you have any health problems that may interfere with participation.

Southwest National Parks Tour Camping & Hiking Exploration

Trip Member Expectations:

Our hope is that each trip member will commit to making a positive contribution to our group of 10 to 12. We will travel as one group, and share the work as one collective group. The leaders will at times need to make decisions based on the needs of the group—not the special needs of one individual. This is a group experience and everyone is expected to help with all the camping tasks such as cooking meals, and clean up, setting up camp, and organizing gear. The Aztec Adventures Outdoor Program is all about promoting a healthy social environment where everyone feels comfortable and is included in the process of becoming a close-knit group. Unfortunately, if you are the independent type that prefers to do things alone, our trips may not be a good match for you.

Trip Member Responsibilities:

  • Please accurately and completely furnish all personal information requested on the Medical Disclosure Form.
  • Carefully review all information about the trip. Ask questions if you have specific needs or concerns.
  • Thoroughly understand the physical and mental demands of the outing as well as the risks. Acknowledge and accept those risks to be encountered.
  • Equip yourself in accordance with the packing list and recommendations of the Aztec Adventures staff.
  • Follow Leave No Trace practices and safety guidelines established by the trip leaders and land management agencies.
  • Respect the customs of locales to where we will travel and visit.
  • Always respect the rights and privacy of other trip members.

Since our outings travel in small groups, we have found that all it takes is one person disregarding policy to create a negative and/or dangerous experience for the whole group. Our leaders do not enjoy being disciplinarians, but will take action when someone is jeopardizing the safety of others and ultimately the future of our program. At the leader’s discretion, a trip member may be asked to leave the trip if it is felt that the person’s further participation (or lack of) may be detrimental to the outing or to others. In this case, the excluded person will be responsible for signing an additional liability waiver and covering all costs related to leaving the trip.

EAT GOOD FOOD - all successful expeditions throughout history have depended on good food and ample quantity. Great outdoor leaders take real pride in the meals they prepare and serve to trip members. It is widely agreed upon in our profession that food is one way extraordinary programs distinguish themselves from the ordinary. No matter the weather conditions or physical challenges of any given trip—every trip members’ attitude and enjoyment become more positive when served a delicious meal.

BE KIND - to the natural environment, to each other and the local populace or communities we visit. A commitment to teaching and embracing Leave No Trace principles and practices is vital to protecting our program areas. A perceptive outdoor leader is always kind and understanding, showing genuine concern for trip members’ wellbeing. Kind leaders greet people with a big smile; make a point of immediately learning names, and answer questions cheerfully and thoroughly. They are aware that the outing is the trip member’s big adventure and enters into their excitement—thereby renewing their own. Above all, the perceptive leader knows that sincere kindness is deeply reassuring to our trip members.

TELL THE TRUTH - about our personal limitations and abilities as well as in all of our "programmatic" endeavors. It is very important that leaders possess the integrity to acknowledge what they know and what they don’t know. Only when a leader is aware of their weaknesses can s/he work to improve. It is also vital to the future of our program to act and communicate with the utmost honesty with all of our partners whether they are public land managers, local businesses or our trip members. We strive hard to eliminate all hidden costs from our program fees and promote the facts behind our Aztec Recreation/A.S. budget subsidy.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE - in the lives of our trip members and staff through meaningful and complete outdoor experiences. Every person that makes a commitment to become involved with our program deserves the best effort we can put forth to make their time with us or trip a special experience. Leaders should always expect that the next trip they lead has the potential to make a positive change in their trip members’ lives. Our staff, in turn, should expect that their hard work and dedication will be acknowledged in ways that will continue long after they graduate or move-on from the program.

LEAVE NO TRACE – Aztec Adventure programming is committed to role modeling an environmental ethic and teaching our trip members to minimize their impact. We abide by LEAVE NO TRACE—Center for Outdoor Ethics and regulations of the places our programs visit.

LEAVE NO TRACE is a national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations. For an amazing amount of information visit the Leave No Trace website

Southwest National Parks Tour Camping & Hiking Exploration

Our trip prices strive to be all inclusive. Round trip transportation, quality instruction and leadership, all meals, including snacks and desserts while in the field, and personal equipment outfitting are included in the cost of the trip. Of course we provide all safety and group gear, along with camping fees and permits. Aztec Adventures receives a small subsidy from Associated Students annually through student activity fees. The subsidy offsets a portion of our administrative costs. Please do not let the price be the deciding factor as our trips have amazing intrinsic value that will provide lasting memories.

In the event you must cancel from your trip the following fees apply:

  • 1-5 DAY TRIPS:
  • 21+ days prior to departure
    75% Refund
  • 15-20 days prior to departure
    50% Refund
  • 0-14 days prior to departure
    No Refund
  • 6-30 DAY TRIPS:
  • 60+ days prior to departure
    75% Refund
  • 30-59 days prior to departure
    50% Refund
  • 0-29 days prior to departure
    No Refund

Transferring from one trip to another is equal to a cancellation and must be done within the aforementioned deadline to avoid loss of fees.

Sometimes we must cancel a program due to low enrollment. In this situation we contact trip members a minimum of two weeks prior to the program and they are eligible for a full refund or credit voucher good for the remaining academic year.

In the event of cancellation due to unforeseeable circumstances (bad weather, natural disaster, or staff emergency), we will make every effort to reschedule the outing. Again, trip members are eligible for a full refund or credit voucher.

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