Grand Canyon Semester: Field Trip Destinations

GCS field trip destinations change from year to year because we follow opportunities as they arise and try to match some of the trips with specific student interests.  Some years students are more interested in spending time with Native American tribes while in other years they are drawn to wildlife on the Kaibab Plateau.  We can’t promise that GCS 2018 will visit the exact same places as we’ve gone in the past, but can promise that the destinations will be just as beautiful, complicated, thought-provoking, and inspiring as the samples shown here.

K2M House

What was the most informative, education and eye-opening experience for you during GCS?

The overnight field trips, like Hopi and Navajo, Kane Ranch, the River and Service, even the backpacking trip, where we got to work closely with each other, learn about a particular place on the Colorado Plateau, and talk to people from the area and our professors about the issues. It helped me really to see how personal values and experience are tied to larger issues at hand. You can't care about a place until you've really been there. 


– Anonymous GCS 2012 student (excerpted from final student course evaluations)


Grand Canyon National Park-- South & North Rims 

As one might anticipate, much of our field time is devoted to visiting the Canyon!  Students spend time camping in Mather Campground during orientation week and visit the park for lectures, activities, and service projects throughout the semester. Students have conducted research projects at the park, assisted with the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art (auction), explored the Canyon on personal backpacking trips, ridden in a mule train, and watched the sunset over the North and South Rims. We promise that you’ll get to know Grand Canyon National Park intimately over the course of the semester. 


Grand Canyon Trust's Kane and Two Mile Ranch

A highlight for many GCS 2016 students was time spent at the Kane and Two Mile Ranches, which are owned and managed by the Grand Canyon Trust in order to develop and implement ecologically sustainable grazing practices that minimize wildlife and habitat impacts. The 840,000 acre ranches span nearly 5,000 feet of elevation, so habitats here range from riparian areas and desert grasslands to high elevation spruce-fir forests.  This area is host to ranchers, endangered California Condors, the Kaibab Band of Paiute, and it’s adjacent to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. This spectacular place captivates all who visit it.

Madeline McKain photo website

Wolf Gumerman, photo

Hopi Lands, Black Mesa, and the Kayenta Coalmine

From seeing Ancient Puebloan ruins and providing volunteer support at the Water is Life run to visiting a sheep ranch and learning about the socioecological complexities of mineral extraction and energy production on tribal lands, students partake in unequaled educational experiences while exploring the spectacular landscapes of the Navajo and Hopi Nations.

Cari Kimball, photo

Museum of Northern Arizona Easton Collection Center

Students receive an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the state-of-the-art museum collections facility at the Museum of Northern Arizona. The Easton Collection Center, dedicated in 2009, incorporates traditional architecture concepts from Colorado Plateau tribes with LEED certified green building techniques to create a unique and innovative twist on collection facility design. MNA Director, Dr. Robert Breunig, provides insight on the intricacies of designing and constructing a building that addresses needs and concerns of tribal people and rises to the challenge of conserving textiles, pottery, and other valuable artifacts.  Students also participate in a guided tour of the collections themselves and catch glimpses of ancient treasures from dinosaur bones to Hopi squash blossom necklaces to dozens of species of native dragonflies.