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FLC students learning from their professor at a petroglyph panel archaeological site

The Four Corners region offers a rich tapestry of natural, cultural, historic, and creative opportunities through which to study our world. With FLOW (Fort Lewis on the Water), you’ll take your learning out of the classroom and into the majestic canyons and rivers of the Colorado Plateau.

Designing a trip for your group

You wouldn't be reading these words if you weren't thinking about how your group or class could benefit from taking their learning to the river. Once you have the general concept in mind, such as studying group dynamics in a social psychology class, or exploring the cultural history of the San Juan River valley for an anthropology class, take a look at the following material to sharpen your plans.

Details to consider

FLC student taking a stand-up paddleboard down the San Juan River

When considering where to go on your trip, be sure to read up on the rivers where we’re permitted to familiarize yourself with their specific offerings.


  • Keep in mind that each day on the river requires time for breakfast, breaking down camp, and covering the river miles to the next camp, with a stop for lunch as well as any historical, geological, archeological, or other sites. FLOW staff can make recommendations based on the section of river you are traveling on, and your curricular objectives.
  • Consider evening time, after dinner, for group discussion, lectures, team-building activities.
  • Bear in mind that river levels and water flow affect travel and timing.
  • Consider designing your trip with flexibility of dates in mind.
  • Give some thought to how the landscape and natural and cultural sites can enhance your trip objectives and outcomes.
  • River trips provide an abundance of opportunities for teamwork, intra- and interpersonal growth, and the enhancement of group dynamics. Consider how you can leverage this aspect for your group, if appropriate.
  • Think about how student comfort with extended time in the outdoors could affect learning. 

Environmental and cultural protection

FLC student paddling an inflatable kayak through a class 2 rapid

Tread lightly

The desert rivers of the southwest are part of a beautiful and fragile landscape that requires care during our visit. A moment’s carelessness can have an impact on the environment that will last hundreds of years. In addition, there are many sites and remnants of the land’s ancestral people that deserve special respect.

Acknowledge where we are 

Every FLOW program begins with the acknowledgement that the land and waters on which we gather are the ancestral lands and territories of Nuchu (Ute), Apache, the Pueblos, Hopi, Zuni, and the Diné Nation. We think it is important to provide this acknowledgment because the narratives of this land and region have long been told from one dominant perspective, without full acknowledgment of the tribes who lived on this land. While visiting cultural sites it is important to stay on established trails, and not to touch or deface petroglyph/pictograph panels or climb on archeological structures. The removal of artifacts such as pottery shards is illegal.

Learn the skills, use the tools 

Specialized toilets, kitchen equipment, and fire pans and blankets are provided to minimize our impact on the river corridor. FLOW guides will instruct participants regarding Leave No Trace procedures for food and human waste, fires, camping and hiking. 

Additional considerations

While many details to consider will be unique to your trip and your group, there are some standard pieces to keep in mind. And they're best not left to assumptions.

Small crafts

Small crafts such as inflatable kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and pack rafts are welcome on most FLOW programs. We have a limited number available to provide, or you are welcome to bring your own. Helmets for are required for small craft on the Rio Chama.

Alcohol & other drugs

Alcohol and other drugs are prohibited on Fort Lewis College curricular and co-curricular trips.
For other trips, participants are welcome to bring alcohol to enjoy in moderation at camp and a cooler will be provided. Other drugs considered illegal by the federal government are strictly prohibited.


Equipment is available for FREE from Outdoor Pursuits located in the Student Life Center. You can get asterisked items a la carte, or if you need fully outfitted ask for the “FLOW Package.”