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Outdoor Activities

At St. John’s College, Santa Fe, we have numerous unique opportunities to explore the magnificent landscape of the Desert Southwest and Four Corners region. The Outdoor Program facilitates off-campus trips throughout the semester to explore this area through adventure activities such as rock climbing, backpacking, rafting, and skiing.

Our Trips

All of our trips are weather-dependent, but we typically offer alternative outings on days when the weather’s poor. Take a look at the schedule to get an idea of what we have coming up!

Day Hikes

In Santa Fe, hiking is second nature.

Join the Outdoor Program for a quick day off-campus to explore the unique wilderness and open areas around Santa Fe—from alpine peaks to desert cliff dwellings and everything in between. You’ll need to bring a sturdy pair of shoes, clothing appropriate for that day’s weather, a small backpack, and a water bottle.

We’ll take care of lunch and transportation.


Want to get out of town for a couple days? The Outdoor Program runs several overnight backpacking trips each year to such locations as the Pecos and Gila Wilderness in New Mexico, as well as occasionally further afield to Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. You will need to provide some personal items, but we can loan you a lot of the gear you’ll need for these outings. Take a look at our Equipment Rental Program to see just what we have available.

Rock Climbing

Rope up for a day with the Outdoor Program! These trips are perfect for climbers of all abilities. Never been before? Great, we’ll teach you everything you need to know. Been climbing for years? Come on out and train for our winter trip to Hueco Tanks. All specialty climbing gear is provided. Just wear comfortable clothing, and bring water and a small backpack.

River Trips

Whether it’s afternoon outings to the Rio Grande and Rio Chama in Northern New Mexico, or multi-day expeditions to Utah and Texas when the rivers are running, we try to be there. Some of our trips use rafts, some use inflatable kayaks, and some use canoes. Get in touch to learn more about the specifics of a particular trip.

Ski/Snowboard Trips

St. John’s College, Santa Fe, sits at the southern end of the Rocky Mountains, so there are numerous opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. We make several trips each year to local destinations including Taos, as well as further afield to powder meccas like Wolf Creek, Colorado. The Outdoor Program subsidizes anywhere from one-third to one-half of the total trip cost, making this easily the most affordable way to get out to the slopes. Please check the trip calendar or get in touch to find out more about specific trip costs.

Search and Rescue

Search and Rescue is led by the Atalaya Search and Rescue team. Atalaya SAR is a Mountain Rescue Association certified search and rescue team that has operated out of Santa Fe since 2002. They specialize in technical rescue and are qualified in all aspects of wilderness search and rescue including ground search and evacuation, winter operation and high angle rescue. Interested Johnnies are welcome to join. Visit their website. Meetings are held on campus every other Wednesday night. Equipment and membership fees are taken care of by the Student Activities Organization. For more information, contact Mike Thurber at 505-984-6148.

Frequently Asked Questions and Equipment Rental

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the trips expensive?

Nope! Most of our trips are free. For ski trips and some of our longer trips, we charge a small fee, but all of our day climbing, hiking, and backpacking trips won’t cost you a dime. (All outings require a small, refundable deposit to secure your place on the trip.)

Do I need special equipment?

The OP provides all of the group gear, and can lend you much of the specialty gear you’ll need for trips. Please contact the OP with specific questions.

What if I’ve never been hiking/climbing/skiing/rafting before?

Not a problem! Our trips are staffed by experienced leaders who will be more than happy to offer tips and instruction. The OP also offers many opportunities to build basic skills, as well as to build on knowledge you already have.

What kind of shape do I need to be in?

Our trips vary significantly in terms of how strenuous they are. If you’re not sure, or have questions about a specific trip, get in touch with the OP. We’d also be happy to give you suggestions on how to get in better shape for our outings!

What if I want to borrow equipment for a personal trip?

The OP lends many types of equipment for personal trips at no charge. See below for a complete list of available gear.

How do I sign up?

All registration is through the front desk at the SAC. Most trips require a $5 signup deposit to put your name on the list, while our ski trips and a few of our longer trips require a fee up front.

I’m a Johnnie; I have more questions!

Good! Get in touch with the OP. We’re happy to converse with you about almost any topic you’d like.

Equipment Rental Program

Much of the equipment you’ll need for our trips can be provided by the Outdoor Program for free. If you’d like to plan your own adventure, we also have camping equipment available to borrow.


Perfect for an overnight or long weekend outing.

Sleeping Bags

Great for all but the coldest trips; we have several different kinds of bags for all of your spring, summer, and fall adventures.

Sleeping Pads

Ultralight RidgeRest pads keep you comfortable at night without weighing you down during the day.


Two and three-person dome-tents, as well as Megamid tents for up to four occupants, are available.


MSR WhisperLites are one of the most popular backpacking stoves of all time, and they’re available to you for free!


Want to get out and experience the serenity of a snow-blanketed aspen grove? Interested in climbing a mountain in a blizzard? We have a wide selection of snowshoes to fit people and adventures of all sizes!