“We are so grateful that you are doing this. It helps the kids grow in so many different ways and connects them with other people and places in our great outdoors!"
—Parent of Horsepacking Expedition Student

Expedition Overview

Dates: August 9-18, 2023
Age: Entering grade 11 - graduating seniors
Group size: max 8-10 students/2 instructors
Length: 10 days
Tuition: $3,600
This 10-day expedition emphasizes skills in backcountry horsepacking and camping in Montana, along with Leave No Trace Ethics, leadership and team building techniques.

(Please note that there is a weight limit of 250lbs for this expedition)
Packing List 
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Expedition Highlights

  • Horsepacking in remote wilderness areas
  • Adventurous alpine experiences
  • Navigation, orienteering, and wilderness travel skills
  • Wilderness decision-making and communication skills
  • Experiencing abundant wildlife and ecosystems

Expedition Description

This wild and unique expedition introduces students to the art and traditions of horsepacking and the long history of the relationship between humans and pack animals. For 10 days, students will travel on horseback across some of the most beautiful country in Southwest Montana. Montana Wilderness School partners with an experienced local outfitter on this expedition; he and his team have decades of horse knowledge and experience to share. Participants will learn how to saddle, bridle, and pack horses and mules for travel on mountain trails. Along the way, each student will forge a bond with their horse, building trust and learning new skills everyday.

As part of the core MWS curriculum, participants will work to develop leadership and team-building skills and strengthen a personal connection to wild places. Students will also learn and apply Leave No Trace® land stewardship principles and communication skills, and gain a new understanding of Montana’s ecology and human history. This is a physically challenging expedition and students should expect long days in the saddle.  

For more information about MWS core curriculum and expedition progression see Expedition Life

Expedition Objectives and Learning Outcomes

Teamwork and communication skills

  • Learn positive communication skills with diverse group members to create a healthy community, build trust, and make sound decisions in the backcountry together
  • Develop an expedition philosophy, apply it to the course, and understand how it can transfer back to the student’s home environment

Safety and wilderness based decision making

  • Backcountry hazard evaluation and risk reduction guidelines and tools
  • First aid awareness for backcountry settings: identification and treatment of common backcountry illness and injuries
  • Learn to collaboratively make decisions in remote environments that prioritizes individual and group safety

Conservation Ethic

  • Use basic observational and interpretive skills to demonstrate an understanding and respect for the natural environment
  • Discuss the history, facts and potential solutions to pertinent environmental and social issues affecting the wilderness in the expedition area
  • Reflect upon and discuss the conveyance of wilderness conservation ethics into personal life and build a capacity for commitment and stewardship to wild places
  • Develop comprehensive understanding of Leave No Trace© ethics and apply them during the expedition

Backcountry camping and navigation skills

  • Use safe backcountry kitchen practices to cook nutritious meals on a camp stove or fire
  • Demonstrate an ability to select an appropriate campsite and set up a shelter while minimizing the impact on the ecosystem
  • Understand and demonstrate how to stay healthy, warm, and comfortable in the backcountry
  • Understand and demonstrate techniques for camping and traveling in bear habitat
  • Use various navigation and route-finding tools and methods for on and off trail travel
  • Travel efficiently in the alpine environment using map and compass skills

Technical Skills

Horsepacking Skills
  • Learn how to care for animals appropriately
  • Learn to properly pack and adjust a saddlebag for horsepacking
  • Become competent in horse travel in alpine environments
  • Travel off trail and discover unpopulated areas of the Montana wilderness
  • Develop essential skills for extended travel in the backcountry
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Montana Wilderness School
PO Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771

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