Explorer Base Camp

Escape the summer heat in the La Sal mountains to explore, learn, create, and camp!

Explorer Base Camp is an overnight experience for rising 5th through 8th graders.  In the heat of the summer, we will retreat to Warner Lake campground up in the Manti La Sal National forest. Campers will spend their days hiking, fishing, learning camp crafts and skills, and developing new friendships in an unplugged environment.  Your child will develop a closer relationship with nature through fun and engaging activities that promote sense of place, relationship building, and a desire to explore.


This camp has two sessions! 

Register for Session 1: July 29 – August 2, 2024

Session 2: August 5 – August 9, 2024 is full! Join the waitlist.


  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Camp Cooking
  • Orienteering
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Camp skills and games
  • And more!


  • Growth in self-management
  • Increased communication and teamwork skills
  • Confidence building
  • Increased camping and outdoor skills
  • Positive growth in group awareness
  • Heightened risk management and safety skills
La Sal Mountains, Warner Lake Campground.
July 29, 2024 through August 02, 2024
August 05, 2024 through August 09, 2024
Drop Off/Pick Up:
1:30pm on Monday and 1:30pm on Friday
5 days and 4 nights
Age Range:
Rising 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders or ages 10 - 14
$440 for Grand or San Juan County, or $595 for nonlocal

This is how we rate the challenges you might face on a CFI trip.

Level 1 - Easy

  • Low level of physical activity, minimal movement required
  • 0 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking or walking 0-2 miles per day

Level 2 - Moderate

  • Medium level of physical activity, some movement required
  • 1-4 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 4 miles per day
  • Flatwater or mild whitewater rapids

Level 3 - Active

  • Medium or high level of physical activity
  • 1-5 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 5 miles per day
  • Class I - III whitewater rapids

Level 4 - Challenging

  • High level of physical activity
  • 1-6 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking 5 or more miles per day
  • Class IV whitewater rapids
CFI's Essential Eligibility Criteria outlines specific challenges that you may face on CFI trips. Please consult the EEC for information on responsibilities of participants.

See other trips in these categories:

Trip Narrative

While the day to day details very from year to year, here’s what you can generally expect for explorer basecamp:


Drop off at the Canyonlands Field Institute office is at 1:30. We can talk about gear and make sure that your kid has everything they need to have a comfortable week at camp. Some loaner gear like tents, sleeping bags, or ground sleeping pads are available at no cost. We will load up in the air conditioned vans and head up to Warner Lake Campground to set up tents and make camp. We may even have some time for games and activities in the afternoon before dinner!

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

This is when the real fun starts! Camp days are a healthy mix of structured activities, exploration time, and free time. All with hearty meals and snacks thrown into the mix. Activities may include teambuilding, campcrafts like shelter and fire building, and orienteering. We will take a day excursion down to Oowah Lake for some exploration and fishing, and another day will consist of a challenge hike to the top of Gold Knob Hill. Nighttime activities consists of campfires, talent shows, stargazing and storytelling, and even some night hiking!


We will wake up a little early on Friday for a final breakfast before packing up camp. Despite the tearful goodbyes to new friends, your kids will be excited to come home and share stories of their adventures!


Some people say food is the most important part of the adventure. On all our overnight trips, CFI will provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a morning and afternoon snack, and an appetizer before dinner. If you have a dietary restriction or food allergy, note it on your medical form so we can best prepare.

Depends on the trip. As a general rule, CFI provides all group gear related to fully outfitting your trip. Specialized gear like PFDs, wetsuits, dry bags, educational materials are all provided by CFI. Additionally, we take care of all kitchen and dishware needs. 

Find out more about trip specific packing.

Most importantly, a willingness to slow down, connect to your surroundings, and experience the moment. Additionally, participants are required to bring a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, personal clothing, medication, and other essential personal items. Many gear items are available for rent. Reach out to us if you are interested in seeing a trip specific packing list, or learn more about trip specific packing here.

CFI provides options to rent gear:

  • Two person tent: $30 / trip
  • Sleeping bag: $20 / trip
  • Kid sleeping pad: $7 / trip
  • Adult sleeping pad (paco pad): $15 / trip
  • Package deal: Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and one tent per two people: $40 / trip

For any CFI summer camp, gear rentals are free!

Every CFI guide has either a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification. Your trip leader will have a Wilderness First Responder certification. Anyone working with youth has passed a background check, and shuttle drivers are insured with clean driving records. Backcountry trips carry In-Reach satellite communication devices for emergencies. All guides have been evaluated by Canyonlands Field Institute as possessing the judgement, skills, and disposition required for mitigating risk in the field. 

As technology grows more and more invasive by the day, CFI promotes connection to what matters. To achieve this, all school and youth programs are unplugged and students are not permitted to bring electronic devices. Not only is there rarely cell service, devices are a distraction to our ability to connect to the present moment. On Private Group Trips or Adult Seminars, the use of devices is permitted but discouraged.

CFI works hard to ensure a positive experience for all guides and participants. Because of the unpredictable nature of outfitting, we have created a series of policies so maintain our ability to manage risk in the outdoors.

For critical information regarding cancellations, deposits, and other participant responsibilities, please view our trip policies page or contact us with any questions.

Thanks for asking...We know this can be an awkward subject. The fact is, our guides work extremely hard and appreciate getting tipped! 

On school trips tips are not expected but greatly appreciated. 

On an adult or private trip, an industry suggested tip is about 10% if your program fee, depending on your experience.

If you wish to include a gratuity, cash is preferred, but sending a check or a payment to CFI's Venmo: @canyonlandsfieldinstitute is also a great way to thank your guides for their hard work.  Tips are always pooled and distributed.

Additional Information

  • View the Explorer Basecamp Packing List.
  • CFI staff are trained educators and guides with first aid and CPR certifications. Back-country trips carry satellite communications devices.  
  • All cook and dishware, meals, snacks, and river gear are provided by CFI.   
  • Tents are provided and sleep kits (sleeping bag, sleeping pad) can be borrowed at no additional cost.
  • Your child could qualify for a scholarship. Check out our summer camp Scholarship Application.

Accessibility and Safety

Explorer Basecamp is an overnight camping trip in the La Sal Mountains. Campers can expect activities to include hiking, fishing, games, arts and crafts, and free time around camp. Kids coming to Explorer Basecamp are expected to manage their own hygiene and bathroom needs, follow the guides' directions, and follow the camp boundaries established at the beginning of the program.

CFI is a non-profit organization and fees are not taxed. By choosing CFI, you are supporting our efforts to provide lifechanging outdoor experiences for hundreds of children per year.  Scholarships are available on an as needed basis.