Guided Trips

Just another spectacular campsite in Gates of the Arctic National Park, Brooks Range, Alaska

With the help of a world-class guide team, I offer education-focused and adventure-filled backpacking courses and trips throughout the lower 48 and Alaska.


Since 2011 we have run 282 trips with 2,184 total clients. To hear what they say about our trips, read their 831 testimonials.

The year before starting this guiding program, I completed a 4,700-mile loop around Alaska and the Yukon by foot, skis, and packraft, and was named an “Adventurer of the Year” by Outside. In 2007 I finished a 6,875-mile thru-hike around the American West and was named “Adventurer of the Year” by National Geographic Adventure. And in 2004-05 I walked 7,775 miles from Quebec to Washington state, and was named “Person of the Year” by Backpacker.

For the first five years, I organized and guided every single trip, which helped me to understand our clientele, refine the program, and learn to be a guide. To accommodate growing demand, in 2017 I began sending groups out with other guides; and in 2023 I hired Katie Gerber as a full-time co-director to help manage the program. I still guide as often as I practically can, and have spent 511 days in the field with our groups.


Our goal is to empower clients with skills and knowledge so that they can be more self-sufficient in the wilderness and confidently undertake future trips of their own. We also try to expand their comfort zones, facilitate new hiking friendships, and have fun together in the backcountry.

We are different from many other guide services in that our:

  • Guides are true backpacking experts, and collectively we have an industry-leading depth of personal first-hand backpacking experience;
  • Clients are expected to help lead our group, participate in decision-making, and engage with the our curriculum and other learning opportunities;
  • Applicants are thoroughly vetted so that they are placed on trips and in groups that are suitable for their experience and fitness;
  • Routes are fine-tuned (often as we go) based on the actual group and current conditions, instead of being rigid “tours” that we run week after week and season after season;
  • Approach fully embraces lightweight gear and modern backcountry techniques.
Grinding up granite slabs in Sequoia-Kings Canyon

Schedules and locations

Refer to the 2024 schedule for exact trip dates and availability.

Read descriptions of our locations and review travel logistics.

Very generally, the schedule goes like this:

  • Mid-April to early-May: the canyons of southern Utah
  • Mid-June to early-July: the Brooks Range of Alaska
  • Mid-July to early-August: the High Sierra
  • September: Olympic National Park or Greater Yellowstone
  • Early-October: West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains


We do not do “tours” with set itineraries. Instead, groups are given a Core Route and permission to adjust it based on the group’s abilities and the conditions.

Read more about our itineraries and day-to-day schedules.


All of our trips are learning-intensive, regardless of the trip’s length or location, or the group’s experience level or fitness. Learning occurs at two times:

  1. Beforehand, through the Planning Curriculum; and
  2. In the field, following our Field Curriculum.

Trip types

We have 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 (5, 7, and 11 days), for advanced backpackers.

In addition to our overnight trips, we have partnered with the International Mountain Medicine Center at the University of New Mexico to offer a Wilderness First Aid certification in select locations.

Fitness levels and technical rating

Backpacking experience and physical fitness are not necessarily correlated, so we offer each trip type in five fitness levels.

We also divide groups by technical ability, since backpackers vary in their comfort when traveling off-trail on surfaces like slickrock, granite slabs, talus, and scree, plus Class 3, 4, and 5 terrain.

Guide team

To help me lead and instruct, I have assembled a world-class guide team. We specialize in modern gear and technique, long-distance thru-hiking, mountain high routes, and off-trail travel.

Highlights include:

  • Six have thru-hiked the Triple Crown (Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails), and Brian was the first to complete the Calendar Triple Crown;
  • Nearly all of us have completed the Sierra High Route, Wind River High Route, Kings Canyon High Basin Route, Yosemite High Route, Pfiffner Traverse, or Sangre Traverse;
  • Joe and Mikaela have set speed records on the Pacific Crest Trail, Long Trail, Arizona Trail, John Muir Trail, and Colorado Trail, and Brian is one of seventeen people to have finished the Barkley Marathon;
  • Scott and Katie have hiked the length of the Grand Canyon;
  • Jeff and Scott are lifelong guides and have spent more than 200 weeks in the field as NOLS instructors;
  • Hazel is a former wilderness ranger in West Virginia and an open transgender man;
  • Melodie Kao has a PhD in Astrophysics, and mentors women and people of color in STEM; and,
  • Dahn, Christy, and Mikaela are current, former, or retired K-12 or college educators.

Read our full bios.


View the trip prices.

The cost of our trips depends on the duration, location, and technical difficulty. In general, our prices are average to below-average. I think we provide significantly above-average value, and our testimonials seem to support that.

Discounts are available to alumni and groups. And we offer needs-based scholarships.

Trip photos and videos

On these pages you will find many photos from our trips. For many more, plus some videos, visit my Instagram and Facebook profiles. For records of a few live events with me, Katie, and some of our guides, visit my YouTube channel.

Rappelling into a canyon in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

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, or backpack better

You can learn to backpack by reading blogs and books, watching YouTube, and going on trips of your own. But you will learn more and more efficiently with us. The learning begins months before we meet at the trailhead, with a mandatory 9-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 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 venues were intentionally selected — they are among my all-time favorite spots. They tend to be wild and dramatic, and occasionally humbling. Guides know these areas well and will share information about the local flora and fauna and the indigenous and human history.

On longer itineraries, we’re more able to 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

Within the backpacking community, our expert guides are considered all-stars, if not legends. Don’t let our resumes worry you, however — we’re known to be supportive, patient, approachable, and safety-minded; we love to teach and help our clients develop; and we’re reasonably normal people, with families, fur children, careers, and other hobbies.

4. Save money

Learning to backpack through trial-and-error can be expensive and deflating. Invest in your backpacking future by letting us help you avoid regrettable gear purchases and by learning a comprehensive planning framework so that you can maximize the potential of every trip. Reduce your expenses further by borrowing our free demo gear and by taking advantage of discounts with preferred vendors.

5. Save time

Planning a backpacking trip is time-consuming, especially if it’s a new or complicated location. This can be a deterrent to getting out. We mostly relieve you of this task, which is ideal for those who have more money than time. We select the location, set the dates, plan the route, share a gear list, create the maps, obtain the permits, and package your breakfasts and dinners.

6. Like-abled and like-minded groups

We will painstakingly match you with other applicants who have similar physical abilities, outdoor experiences, and even personal interests and life stories. We do not just group together the first eight or ten people who are willing to pay the fee.

Groups that hike at a similar pace and for a similar distance each day have more fun and are more likely to re-group in later years for a trip independent of us. They’re also easier to manage: no group member is frustrated by being way out front or way in the back; and our groups rarely must be split up.

7. Personalized service

This program has expanded considerably in recent years, but it’s remained a small and intimate outfit. I still lead about 20 percent of the trips, and I’m on-site for most of the others. If you email or call me, I’ll personally respond. (Try it — my number is 720-279-4801.) My name is inextricably linked to this service, and I embrace the responsibility of getting every single detail right.

Looking over Baker Canyon, a tributary of the Escalante


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

“Wonderful instruction, wonderful guides, and wonderful people. I came on the trip having never slept alone in a tent before and I ended it cowboy camping on my own mesa without a care in the world.” — Jeni P.

“I came into this trip looking for an adventure and thinking there was nothing more I needed to learn about backpacking. Boy was I wrong. I learned so much about gear and skills, and I’m a much more confident and knowledgeable backpacker now.” — Greg J

“Unlike most guided trips where you are just along to sight-see, this program gives you the academic foundation, thought processes, and practical experience to prepare you to plan and undertake your own back country adventures.” — Michael D

“My trip was made even better than expected by the people in my group and my guides. Whether it was serendipitous or some crazy Skurka algorithm, our group got along fantastically. I would backpack anywhere with them.” — Stephanie C

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.

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 Andrew Skurka Adventures team are some of the most accomplished and impressive backpackers in the world. The strange thing is that they are also some of the most fun and kind people I have ever met. They will take a personal interest in your journey and goals, and work hard to prepare and inspire you to meet them. The trips are hard, but you will learn a ton, meet some awesome people, and have some shockingly good meals in epic locations. I am a significantly more confident and prepared backpacker thanks to this program and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is new to backpacking, wants to expand on existing skills, or just wants to spend a week doing something awesome.” -Sam

“The Andrew Skurka Adventures guided trips bring together a wonderful combination of rigorous planning, beautiful locations, education for all levels, experienced and passionate guides, and just plain fun. Unlike a tour where you are just along to sight-see, this program gives you the academic foundation, thought processes, and practical experience to prepare you to plan and undertake your own back country adventures. The guides were great at understanding each participant’s goals and creating an environment where we had the confidence to leave our comfort zones and try new skills and methods.  By the second day, our group of relatively inexperienced backpackers was working together as a team to navigate and route find across the desert. You can watch YouTube videos for another year or you can take a 5-day Adventure trip and learn what really works.” -Michael D.

“If you’re serious about wanting to improve your backpacking skills, there is no better option than Skurka Adventures. Andrew has put together a team of some of the most knowledgeable and experienced backpacking experts in the world. And unlike other guiding groups, the entire experience, from the start of the Planning Curriculum to your last day on trail, is devoted to making you self-sufficient in the backcountry. You’re all but guaranteed to come out of your trip as the backpacker you want to be.” -Anonymous

“I can’t say enough about how valuable this trip was for me. I consider myself a very competent hiker, and this experience filled in gaps in my knowledge that I didn’t even know existed. I happily walked away a stronger, more confident hiker and I couldn’t have asked for a better educational setting. On another note – I don’t know what secret formula Andrew and his team are using to assemble the groups, but I was amazed at how quickly we all formed genuine bonds together. I wasn’t sure what to expect walking into 7 days in the backcountry with a group of strangers, but I can honestly say I made lasting connections on this trip that I will value for a long time.” -Joel C.

Read more testimonials

Descending from Grandview Pass, Olympic National Park

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