Adventure Therapy

Adventure Therapy Activities

Adventure therapy activities offer more opportunities for assessment, skill-building and knowledge acquisition than traditional therapy programs. The increased opportunities to learn transferable skills, combined with experiencing success, are necessary steps for healthy identity development, improved mental health, self-confidence, self-esteem, and lasting change.

Students look forward to these weekly “experiential therapy” expeditions that provide opportunities to challenge themselves, as each outdoor adventure offers something different. At Aspiro, each of these therapeutic adventure components occur within a context of supportive relationships with field staff, peers, and therapists.

How Adventure Therapy Programs Work

Students participate in various outdoor activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, skiing, hiking or backpacking. As they are exposed to these novel environments and activities they begin to overcome challenges and experience success. This leads to healthy identity development, improved grit, and increased resilience. All essential life skills and components that lead to long-term recovery and life-long success.

For example, a student may begin a week on a climbing itinerary where he or she is faced with learning how to safely belay, how to tie knots, identify all the different pieces of equipment, and then to get on the rock wall and climb. For some, even wearing a helmet and a harness is a new experience! Over the course of one week, a student goes from being a beginner to successfully climbing multiple routes and safely belaying peers. All students on the itinerary, new to climbing or not, are learning to push themselves, work together, trust others, and build mastery.

The next week the student may head north and go mountain biking in the Wasatch Mountains. It is possible that some students may not have ridden a bike in years, or even at all. By the end of the experience, new to biking or not, the student is navigating complicated obstacles and riding through trails with their peers cheering them on!

Each week is a new therapeutic challenge, which creates more opportunities for competence, autonomy, and relatedness – the key elements of self-determination and a strengths-based approach!

Our Adventure Therapy Activities

Adventure Itineraries

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Adventure Therapy Activities - Canyoneering


Students practice canyoneering in 3 different areas in the state, with the highlight being in Eaark, where students will discover an area where over thousands of years, the water has dug three separate pothole arches into an overhang. When the sun is overhead, the daylight shines down through the arches in great, golden columns, giving this place the name Golden Cathedral.

This is one of the prime areas in the world for canyoneering due to the breathtaking, unique landscape of the Colorado Plateau and the incredible colors and slot canyons. Here students focus not only on appreciating the miracles of nature but focus on advanced anchor building and rappelling techniques that afford them a chance to work on creative problem-solving skills, group cohesion, personal awareness, and safety skills.

Adventure Therapy Activities - Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking takes place in both the Wasatch Range in Northern UT, where students are climbing up beautiful trails surrounded by trees and incredible Mt views; and in the Mohave desert where students negotiate smooth rock trials on the red sandstone terrain of Southern Utah. While mountain biking, students gain a unique opportunity to find a rhythm and get lost in the moment, finding their “zone” or “flow” where they are one minded, immersed in the present, and focused.

Learning to find this flow, helps students gain the ability to create this in other situations, leading to a calmness and confidence. Students are also able to practice distress tolerance and gain personal confidence on a mountain bike itinerary by tackling the challenge of a new and potentially intimidating skill.

Aspiro Activities Rock Climbing icon

Rock Climbing

Students rock climb in various areas across the state of Utah, including The Mohave Desert, The La Sal Mountain Range, and the Wasatch Mountain Range. This provides them the opportunity to practice on various types of rocks such as granite, quartzite, sandstone, and limestone and gives them the appreciation for numerous environments and settings.

While on rock climbing itineraries, students not only get the opportunity to work on rope techniques and climbing techniques, but most importantly they are practicing group management, mindfulness skills, trust and accountability, as well as the ability to face and manage fears and anxiety.

Adventure Therapy Activities - Backpacking

Backpacking / Hiking

Students have a unique opportunity at Aspiro, to backpack in many different locations, landscapes and climates, including in the High Unitas, Mohave Desert, La Sal Mountain Range, high desert of the Awapa Plateau, and the rustic landscape of the Ouray Wilderness. The backpacking itineraries help create grit – the ability to dig down deep, test themselves, and preserver.

Nothing builds more resilience than reaching a summit and enjoying the quiet, remoteness and views below, after a few physically challenging days of hiking with their full backpacks. This affords students a great sense of accomplishment, an appreciation for simplicity, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for their lives.

Adventure Therapy Activities: Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing

Skiing takes place at Sundance Ski resort with the beautiful backdrop of Mt. Timpanogos, one of the most iconic mountains in the Wasatch range. Students come to us at all experience levels, and all become better skiers through a standard curriculum, taught by our expert instructors, that breaks down the fundamentals and challenges each student just beyond their current level.

While skiing, students learn about goal setting by challenging themselves on ski terrain throughout the resort. Students learn how to fully engage in this activity with mindfulness, practice tolerance and patience for themselves and others, as well as learning mentoring and coaching skills.

Adventure Therapy Activities - Snowshoeing


During the winter months, students are able to access many unique backpacking areas in the high Uinta forests, that can only be reached with snowshoes on. Here they have the privilege to enjoy the serenity and peacefulness of remote forests surrounded by incredible, peaceful, winter landscapes that have been untouched.

Snowshoeing creates a great opportunity to practice appreciation, meditation, and to find serenity.

Adventure Activities Leadership Initiatives

Leadership Initiatives

At Aspiro, we have a custom-designed challenge course at base camp, where students spend time learning how they can contribute to the overall effectiveness of the group. They practice leadership, problem-solving skills, coping skills, social skills, active group engagement, and appropriate assertiveness.

Through completing the various ropes course activities such as “Giant’s Finger”, where they have to get a tire over a large vertical log without out touching the log and “waking the giant”, they learn to engage in the group process, to contribute ideas actively, and how to become an active part of solutions. They also practice following the Aspiro agreement, which is, “I will do what is best for the group, leaving no one out, including myself.” This reinforces the value of a community as well as personal value and importance. Our challenge course boasts 23 different initiatives that require collaboration, patience and creativity to complete.

Wilderness Therapy Activities: Primitive Skills

Primitive Skills

The primitive skills program provides an opportunity for students to spend a number of days working with their hands using primitive materials such as leather, wood, and twine. They can use these materials to create anything from beads and a necklace, to a small stool, pair of sandals, or even a chess set or piece of art.

These teens and & young adults learn primitive wilderness skills such as busting a coal and beginning a fire with a wooden bow drill, to carving a spoon. This is a great creative outlet for students where they can really tap into all that nature has to offer and can appreciate the simplicity of creating something entirely out of the gifts of nature.

Meet the
& Field Staff

What makes Aspiro a truly unique and special experience is our highly trained and dedicated team of mental health professionals.

Meet The
& Field Staff

What makes Aspiro a truly unique and special experience is our highly trained and dedicated team of mental health professionals.