Mission and Impact

Everyone deserves the outdoors.

Over the past 40 years, Canyonlands Field Institute has strived to rejuvenate the human spirit though quality, immersive outdoor experiences. We aim to create a world where the people, wildlife, and plants of the Colorado Plateau are healthy and vibrant. As we work toward this vision, we must acknowledge that people and landscape are inexorably connected. CFI commits to creating a welcoming and inclusive culture in all that we do.


These ideas come together to form our Mission:

Canyonlands Field Institute provides quality outdoor education on the Colorado Plateau to inspire care of wild places and renew the human spirit.

CFI's Impact:


fundraised to completely subsidize the Native Teen Guide in Training Program.


of CFI schools are federally listed as Title 1.


days spent outside with youth in 2023.


free WFR, and Swiftwater Rescue certifications given to First Year Naturalst Guides as professional development.


IDEA stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility.

The outdoor industry has a history of exclusion along race, socioeconomic status, culture, physical ability, and many other facets. CFI is committed to the ongoing journey of reflection, discussion, and cultural change that must occur within our industry to welcome those who have been historically excluded from enjoying the beauty, majesty, and power of the Colorado Plateau.

IDEA is CFI's chosen acronym to represent our efforts to increase opportunity in the outdoors. Expand the sections to the right to learn more about each aspect of IDEA, and how it influences our work at CFI.

Inclusion at CFI takes many forms, both internally and externally. We define inclusion as the active removal of barriers of access.

These barriers represent the many reasons, including racial, cultural, and physical ones, why a staff or participant may not feel welcome or included at CFI.

Our work in inclusion seeks to understand these reasons, through research and discussion, and brainstorm ways to remove or address them.

As our value statement reads, we believe that "diversity is essential to understanding." There are many ways to express diversity, and CFI acknowledges that each expression of diversity represents knowledge and life experience indispensable to our organizational culture.

CFI aims to uplift and highlight this knowledge and life experience, while celebrating individual expressions of diversity.

Not every individual has equal access to the outdoors. Our work in equity is centered around creating systems that identify and address these inequities, while working to overcome them.

We believe that every kid (and adult!) deserves to be outside, and are working toward creating equal opportunity for all schools, youth, and adults regardless of their resources.

The outdoors can be financially, physically, and culturally inaccessible. Transportation, gear, weather, terrain, time, and a lack of culturally relevant experiences are all reasons why someone may opt not to spend time in the outdoors. 

At CFI we are investing in gear, infrastructure, resources, and funding to reduce as many of these barriers as we can. There are still many aspects of the outdoors that remain inaccessible.

IDEA is value rooted work.


Respect: At CFI, respect is rooted in shared experiences. We value the perspectives shared by people with life experiences different from our own.


Reciprocity: CFI is committed to financially supporting organizations who assist us in our IDEA journey. We respect the value of the knowledge, insights, experience, and strategic advice we receive by experts in the field of inclusivity.

Experiential Education

Experiential Education: Education is the soul of CFI. We are continually reworking our curriculum to best educate participants in the ongoing issues surrounding current and historic human relationships with the Colorado Plateau.


Teamwork: IDEA is a journey that requires a team. CFI values and promotes teamwork among staff, participants, and partners, and takes active steps to create a team with diverse life experiences.


Reverence: The lands and waters of the Colorado Plateau are our home, as they have been home to humans, plants, and animals for all of history. We acknowledge and respect the spiritual nature of our home for us and for others.


Responsibility: We take responsibility for profiting from an outdoor industry that has historically excluded people based on race, socioeconomic status and other barriers. CFI is committed to creating specific pathways for these populations to experience the joy of nature.


Diversity: Diversity is essential to understanding. As with ecosystem health, humans thrive in diverse and vibrant communities. We honor and embrace all of the expressions of human diversity.


Stewardship: CFI teaches and practices stewardship in all of our programming. Keeping our lands and waters healthy and thriving is an essential part of CFI's ongoing mission.

We are on stolen land

Canyonlands Field Institute operates on the lands and waters of SE Utah. Many indigenous peoples including the Ute, Navajo, Paiute, Hopi, and other descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans and San Rafael Fremont have deep relationships to this land that stretch back millennia. All members of these groups are survivors of an attempted erasure of their ways of being by European settlers hoping to make this land their own. We acknowledge that as an organization founded and led by non-native people, experiencing the power of this landscape is a privilege that has been afforded to us by the violent history enacted against the tribes of the Colorado Plateau. We hold gratitude for the persistence of these tribes, their thriving cultures, and their continued care for the land. We are especially grateful for the knowledge and expertise contributed to our programs by indigenous staff, guides, and educators.

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The Youth Desert Access Program

The Youth Desert Access Program (YDAP) is Canyonlands Field Institute's scholarship program for Title I schools. Title I is a federal aid program that is designed to help schools that are facing conditions statistically consistent with academic failure, like poverty and food insecurity.

Despite the fact that our standard school fees only cover about 65% of the actual cost to run these programs, the prices are still out of reach for the majority of schools in the US. Title I students face additional barriers of access to the outdoors.

By supporting the Youth Desert Access Program, you can create opportunities for students historically excluded from participating in programs like CFI.

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