Choose Mountain Stream Over Mainstream

Do you want to make new friends before classes start? Do you enjoy the outdoors? If you answered YES to either of these questions, then our Summit the San Juans trips are for you.

They are:

  • Optional, pre-orientation backpacking trips for all first-year and transfer students.
  • Small group experiences led by trained student leaders.
  • The foundation of your new community of friends, classmates, and campus life.
  • For all levels and abilities. No prior experience necessary.
  • Affordable. Full and partial financial assistance is available.

Register today!

For more information, review the tabs below or contact Kate Macklin at 970-247-6394 or Email Kate.

When: August 21-25, 2022
Where: Weminuche Wilderness Area, San Juan Mountains
Number of students: 80
Student cost: $300

"My peak experience was such a memorable one! Not only did it build a sense of community and trust between peers as an incoming freshman, but it was also absolutely beautiful!! Peak was so much more than a '5-day hike.' So cool to get to explore your new backyard in a very personal and constructive way while making connections and overcoming personal mountains. Plus, the food was amazing the whole way through. I am still friends with people I met through this awesome experience!"


Peak Experiences GroupAs a participant on a Summit the San Juans trip, you will:

  • Backpack for five days and four nights with a group of ten incoming students and two student leaders through the San Juan Mountains, just outside Durango.
  • Travel through rugged canyons, camp in aspen groves, and hike across alpine meadow surrounded by Colorado's high peaks.
  • Learn the basics of backcountry travel and how to move and work as a group in the wilderness.
  • Travel, camp, cook, and share adventures with your group.

These trips are open for all experience levels and are moderately difficult. Most of the trails are over gradual terrain, but some include off-trail travel, with elevations exceeding 10,000 feet. There are many ridges and peaks that offer outstanding views, but can require hiking challenging, steep sections.

Peak Experience trips costs $300 and include the following:

  • Peak Experinces CampsiteFood
  • Transportation
  • Outdoor Equipment
  • Lodging when on campus
  • Access to your room for storage during the trip

Participants are responsible to bring appropriate clothing and footwear. Beyond what is listed as available to borrow on the packing list, Outdoor Pursuits does have limited clothing available. Please contact us if you have questions.

Financial Assistance:

Substantial financial assistance is available for those who qualify. To apply, please complete the registration process, including the financial assistance application. This will hold your space on the trip. We will review applications on a rolling basis. You will be notified no later than June 15th if you qualify for assistance. 

**Cancellation Policy**

  • An administrative fee of $50 will be assessed for any cancellation
  • The full trip amount is forfeit if cancelled less than 30 days before trip departure
  • The OP membership is forfeit upon cancellation
  • If the cancelled spot is filled, the full amount will be refunded, minus the $50 Administrative Fee

student packing for tripUnless otherwise noted, all of the below items are minimum REQUIRED to keep you and your group safe and comfortable in the mountains. Summer weather in the San Juan Mountains is very unpredictable. Peak groups have experienced warm sunny weather, freezing rain, and even snow. Given that it is monsoon season, it is very likely you will get rained on. If you are not accustomed to this weather or know you get cold, please bring extra warm layers.

Click BLUE items for informational videos

"*" denotes items available for free from Outdoor Pursuits if needed


Personal Clothing/Equipment List

  • 1 - Pair fleece or wool pants (No Cotton, i.e. jeans or sweat pants)
  • 1 - Fleece top or mid-weight wool sweater
  • 1 - Light or medium weight long underwear top and bottom
  • 1 - Warm jacket heavy fleece, down, or synthetic fill
  • 1 - Warm hat (not cotton)
  • 1 - Hat with brim (baseball cap is fine)
  • 1 - *Waterproof shell (upper) NO ponchos or wind shells.
  • 1 - *Pair waterproof pants
  • 1 - Pair of wool or fleece gloves or mittens
  • 3 - Pairs heavyweight wool or synthetic socks
  • 1 - Pair thin liner socks (cheap dress socks work great)
  • 1 - Pair sturdy hiking boots or trail shoes (NO tennis shoes or Five Fingers). NOTE: To prevent blisters, these must be broken in prior to the trip by wearing them for several full-day hikes.
  • 1 - Pair closed-toe camp shoes (athletic/running shoes work great. NO sandals or crocs)
  • 2 - T-shirts (at least 1 synthetic, non-cotton)
  • 1 - Pair of shorts, quick drying
  • 3 - Pairs underwear
  • 2 - Stuff sacks for organizing clothing
  • 1 - Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries
  • 1 - Pair sunglasses
  • 1 - Small sunscreen
  • 1 - Lip balm with sunscreen
  • 1 - Small toilet kit
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Extra contacts if needed
    • Women, bring tampons
    • Do not bring makeup, deodorant, perfume, etc. (They are heavy and attract animals/bugs)
  • 2 - Water bottles (enough to carry 1/2 gallon. If you bring a bladder system, also bring 1 bottle in case of breakage)
  • 1 - Personal eating kit (spoon, cup, and bowl or plate)

Optional Personal Equipment

  • Camera
  • Journal
  • Insulated mug
  • Pen/pencil
  • Compass
  • Small pocket knife (<4” blade)
  • Natural history books
  • Bandana
  • Extra layers

Equipment that we will provide

We will provide the following but feel free to bring your own if you wish.

  • *90 Liter backpack* (min. 70L capacity if bringing your own, as you will have to fit group gear/food too)
  • Tent*
  • *Sleeping system (sleeping bag and pad)* 15-20 degree bag will work great for most people. We have 20 degree and 0 degree bags.
  • *All group gear (stoves, pots, water treatment systems, etc.)

Travel, Lodging & Logistics

Will there be a place for me to store all my things while on the trip?

Yes, you will be able to drop off any belongings not needed for the trip at your residence hall during your assigned time (to be announced).

When should I arrive?

  • If you’re flying, you should book your flight to arrive on Saturday.
  • If you’re driving, you can arrive on Saturday or Sunday, depending on how far you’re coming from.
  • You will be assigned a check-in time (either in the morning or afternoon)

How do I get to campus from the airport?

If you provide us with your flight information, we’ll pick you up at the airport for free.

Is there a place for me to stay on Saturday night? 

Yes, if you’re arriving on Saturday, students may “camp out” in the Student Life Center.

Will I be back in time for New Student and Family Orientation?

Yes, we return to campus by Thursday evening. This is perfect timing for moving into your room and checking in to New Student and/or Family Orientation.

When and where can I meet my family upon returning?

Any family or friends joining for move-in or Orientation can meet you upon your return and after equipment clean-up. Campus return times will be in the early afternoon. You will be notified of your return time prior to Peak beginning.

How many students are on Peak?

  • All groups are 10 incoming students and 2 student leaders.
  • The total number of participants is 80.

If I’m over 21, can I bring marijuana or alcohol?

No, even if you can legally use either of these substances, neither are allowed on Fort Lewis College events.


What do I need to bring?

You are responsible for your personal clothing and footwear. Please view the packing list for all required personal equipment.

What if I don't have my own equipment?

OP has a full equipment room where you will be able to check out items such as backpacks, sleep bags, sleeping pads, etc. You are responsible for your personal clothing and footwear.  See the packing list for more information.

Can I use my own pack/tent/etc.?

Yes, you are welcome to use any personal gear you wish (providing it is approved by your trip leader), but you will be responsible for any personal equipment you choose to bring.

Do I need to bring my own food or water?

No, we will provide food from Sunday's lunch through Thursday's breakfast. We will also provide water treatment systems when we’re in the field.

Can I bring my own pack?

Yes, but your pack must be at least 70 Liters and meet our staff approval, as you will have to fit food and group gear. Our rental packs are 90 Liters.

Should I bring my cell phone or emergency beacon device?

  • Cell phone and music player use is discouraged on trip and you will likely not have service anyway.
  • You are welcome to use your phone for photos if you wish, but should consider how to protect it from rain and use it in Airplane Mode to conserve the battery.
  • Please do not bring your own personal emergency beacon device, the groups will already be carrying a satellite communication device.

Route, Difficulty & Weather

What will the weather be like?

The weather can range from 70 degrees and sunny, to below freezing temps with rain and snow. Please read the packing list thoroughly to be prepared.

How far are we hiking?

The total route length ranges from 12 to 25 miles, with 4.5 days to cover this distance.

Where are the routes going?

Most of the groups will be between Durango and Silverton in the San Juan Mountains. A few groups may also be La Plata Mountains, just West of Durango.

What elevation is the trip?

All routes travel above 10,000 feet, with many groups traveling higher.

How heavy will my pack be?

Depending on your size, your pack weight may range from 30-60 pounds.


Do I need to bring my own food or water?

No, we will provide food from Sunday's lunch through Thursday's breakfast. We will also provide water treatment systems when we’re in the field.

What will we be eating on trip?

Do you accommodate dietary restrictions or allergies?

Yes, we are able to accommodate a wide range of dietary restrictions and allergies. You may note these requirements in the registration process.

Can I bring my own snacks?

Yes, if you have a special snack you want to have, you’re welcome to bring it.

Student leaders make this program what it is! 

Peak Experinces leadersThey are:

  • Committed individuals who are at the heart of each and every trip.
  • Current and past Fort Lewis College students from all majors and disciplines.
  • Selected for their judgment and experience in the outdoors, as well as their personality and ability to work with groups.
  • Trained through a demanding outdoor leadership course that focuses on group dynamics, teaching techniques, decision making, risk management, backcountry travel, and Leave No Trace principles.
  • Certified in wilderness medicine.

For more information on our leaders and leadership program, visit the Student Outdoor Leadership (SOL) website.