Guided Trips

Approaching Emeric Lake, Yosemite National Park

“New to backpacking, or getting back into it? The Fundamentals course will save you countless hours. Gear selection, meal planning, training, navigation, campsite selection — they covered it all. This experience made me much more confident about returning to the wilderness.” — John H

“If you’re interested in gaining skills in the backcountry with great people and stellar guides, then run (don’t walk) and sign up for a 2021 trip. My vacation time and my money go to Andrew and his exceptional guiding team, which includes awesome women with mad skills.” — Kim R

“As a thru-hiker, I was used to staying on-trail, but the Adventure trip made me very comfortable with traveling off-trail, using just a map and compass to travel to interesting and remote locations. We saw almost no other people for five days.” — James C

I offer adventurous learning-intensive backpacking courses and trips in Yosemite, Alaska, West Virginia, southern Utah, and the Colorado Rockies. They are not standardized tours — we want them to be client-led, we customize the itinerary for each group, and by the end you will have the skills to undertake comparable trips on your own.

Since 2011 I have managed exactly 124 trips with about 950 total clients. Read their testimonials.

To help me lead and instruct, I have assembled a world-class guide team. They are true experts, and specialize in lightweight backpacking, long-distance thru-hiking, mountain high routes, and off-trail travel.

Death Hollow, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

2021 program and schedule

Use the top-navigation bar for important trip and program information, including locations, prices, curriculum, and Covid-19 protocols.

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 (7 days), for advanced backpackers.

Each trip type is offered in four trip intensity levels (Low, Moderate, High, Very High), since backpacking experience and physical fitness are not necessarily correlated. Like-abled groups have more fun and camaraderie.

The 2021 schedule starts in April and concludes in October:

  • Southern Utah in April, just as spring arrives;
  • Brooks Range in late-June, in a narrow window between winter and mosquitoes;
  • Colorado Rockies in late-July, during the peak of wildflower season;
  • Yosemite in September, when the temperatures cool down and the bugs and crowds disappear; and,
  • West Virginia in early-October, just as the fall colors begin.

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

Early morning miles in the San Juan Mountains

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 wilderness. 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.

You can learn a lot by reading blogs and books, and watching YouTube. But you will learn more and more efficiently by taking a trip with us.

2. Adventure in world-class locations

Our venues are among my all-time favorite spots. In 2021 we’ll be running trips in Utah’s slickrock canyons, Alaska’s northern Brooks Range, the Colorado Rockies, world famous Yosemite National Park, and West Virginia’s wild Appalachians.

On the 5- and 7-day trips, 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

Within the thru-hiking and lightweight backpacking communities, our guides 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, 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 — and that 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 decide 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, we will painstakingly match you will other applicants who have similar physical abilities, outdoor experiences, and even personal interests and life stories.

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

We run a top-rate program, but it’s still a small and intimate outfit. In 2021 I will lead about one-fourth of the trips, and I’ll be on-site for nearly all of the others. If you email or call me, I’ll personally respond. My name is inextricably linked to this service, and I embrace the responsibility of getting every single 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

Fall foliage from the escarpment in Roaring Plains Wilderness

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.