Guided Trips

Overlooking Roosevelt Lake, on the descent from Don’t Be A Smart Pass

Update: October 28, 2020: We finished our 2020 season a few days ago, and we’re taking a short vacation before we dig into 2021. Expected timeline:

  • Mid-November: Release a tentative 2021 calendar
  • Early-December: Finish updating the website with 2021 information
  • December 14: Start accepting applications

Want to learn to backpack, or backpack better?

Want to undertake a wilderness adventure that will expand your skill set and comfort zone?

I offer learning-intensive and adventure-rich guided backpacking courses and trips in California, Alaska, West Virginia, southern Utah, and the Rocky Mountains.

We have been in operation since 2011, and have run exactly 100 trips with about 750 total clients.

To help me lead and instruct, I have assembled a world-class guide team. We specialize in lightweight backpacking, long-distance thru-hikes, and off-trail high routes.

2020 program

For trip dates, locations, prices, the curriculum, testimonials, and other important details, use the top-navigation bar.

As in the past, I am offering three trip types, each designed for a particular level of backpacking experience:

  • Fundamentals (3 days), for beginners;
  • Adventure (5 or 7 days), for intermediates; and,
  • Expedition (7 days), for advanced backpackers.

We offer each trip type for different fitness levels (Low, Moderate, High, Very High), since experience and fitness are not necessarily correlated.

I am now accepting applications on a first-come-come-first served basis for remaining spots. For current availability, refer to the 2020 trip schedule.

If you have questions about the trips, please contact me.

Why take a trip with us?

Our clients vary in their motivations, but generally it’s a mix of these factors:

1. Learn to backpack

We don’t just take you backpacking — instead, we help you become self-reliant in the backcountry. The learning begins months before we meet at the trailhead, with a mandatory 10-week online course during which you’ll research likely conditions, select gear, plan your meals, and create topographic maps.

Once in the field, we help beginner backpackers develop core skills, like how to read a map, find great campsites, and protect your food overnight. With more experienced groups, we focus on more advanced skills like how to navigate off-trail, cross swift creeks, and travel on spring snow.

2. Adventure in world-class locations

Our classrooms include some of my all-time favorite spots. In 2020 we’ll be leading groups in southern Utah, West Virginia, Alaska, the Rockies, and Yosemite National Park.

On the Adventures and Expeditions, we will access remote and rarely visited areas, often by getting off-trail. Our routes are normally more creative and challenging than you would feel comfortable doing on your own.

3. Backpack with experts

Your guides are true backpacking experts. Within the thru-hiking and lightweight backpacking communities they are considered all-stars, if not legends.

Don’t let our resumes worry you, however. We develop the itineraries to suit you, and love to teach and to show off our favorite places. Plus, we’re reasonably normal people — most of us have families, careers, and other hobbies.

4. Save money

Learning to backpack through trial-and-error can be expensive and deflating. Our trips are an investment in your backpacking future: we will help you to avoid regrettable purchases and to enjoy every trip to its max. You can reduce your expenses further by borrowing our demo gear and using our discounts with preferred vendors.

5. Save time

Planning a backpacking trip is time-consuming and can be a deterrent to getting out, especially if it’s a new or complicated location. We mostly relieve you of this task — we’ll determine the location, set the dates, plan the route, specify a gear list, create the maps, obtain the permits, and make your breakfasts and dinners.

6. Like-abled and like-minded groups

Whereas most outfitters and educational organizations accept the first eight or ten paying customers who want to join a specific trip, we vet our groups extensively to match physical abilities, outdoor experiences, and even personal interests and life stories. If I do my job correctly, you’ll feel like you’re with lifelong hiking partners.

7. Personalized service

Andrew Skurka Adventures LLC is still a small outfit. I still guide about one-third the trips, and I’m on-site for the others. If you email or call me, I’ll personally respond. My name is inextricably linked with this service, so I take it very seriously and embrace the responsibility. I pride myself on thinking through everything and getting every detail right.

Arrigetch Creek, as seen from the summit of Ariel Peak


What do clients say about their experience with us. Read a comprehensive list of reviews, videos, and testimonials, or get a sampling below.

The trip exceeded my expectations! The people were great, the scenery was beyond compare, and I felt I was in really good hands with my guides. Compared to what you get elsewhere, the level of instruction and preparation far exceeds anything else I have seen. I look forward to going on more trips with Andrew and his team! — Michele T

Stop living vicariously through your favorite YouTube backpacking stars! Instead, learn from Andrew about the gear and skills you need to go on the amazing adventures that you love to watch online. The 3-day course is ideal for someone who has little first-hand experience or free time, and needs hiking partners. — John W

I’ve been studying Andrew’s methods for years, and this guided trip was the perfect practical application of all of those things. — Zachary G

It was an incredible trip led by an all-star guide team. I learned a lot about off-route travel and developed confidence and skills to start exploring high routes on my own. The route itself was out of this world, and the entire experience is a bucket-list item. — Victoria L

The highest praise I can give Andrew’s trips is that I would not hesitate for a moment in spending my hard earned dollars and using my limited vacation time to take another trip with him! — Glenn S

The 5-day Adventure trip was a pivotal outdoor experience for me. I had done several 5-6 day trip of my own before, but I reached a point where I really needed someone else to help me develop more advanced skills. This trip has provided the foundation for many future off-trail adventures, from putting together a gear list and researching trail conditions, to field navigation and gaining confidence both on and off the trail. — Keela P

Andrew’s commitment to excellence in every aspect and detail of his guided trips is really a pretty special thing to witness. I learned a ton -– and I know that my own future backcountry adventures will be better planned, better executed, and more enjoyable because of the knowledge and experience I gained from Andrew and his team. — David K

Andrew has a wonderful way of cranking up the adventure factor, pushing to the boundaries of his crew, and giving everyone the experience of a lifetime. I will keep going on Andrews trips as long as he will keep accepting my applications. — Sonja W

I can’t play golf with Tiger or shoot around with Steph Curry, but I got a chance to hike with Flyin’ Brian Robison and Andrew Skurka. I’ve been backpacking for 40 years, but this was the best training I’ve received in land navigation since Ranger School. — Peter F

Read more testimonials

Seneca Creek, West Virginia

To operate commercially, Andrew Skurka Adventures LLC obtains authorization from land agencies like the National Park Service, US Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management. View authorizations for the current season.