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BEACON Senior News

Adventure in the great outdoors with Colorado Canyons Association

Aug 04, 2020 10:43AM ● By Michael Melneck

Learn about our conservation areas through CCA’s fall trips

Do overnight rafting trips float your boat? Grand Valley locals have access to a grand buffet of outdoor adventures this late summer and early fall, courtesy of Colorado Canyons Association.

Enjoy your backyard

Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) connects people using education, stewardship, recreation and awareness to the natural resources of western Colorado’s National Conservation Areas. The nonprofit leads outdoor adventures in three local conservation areas in particular: McInnis Canyons, Dominguez-Escalante and Gunnison Gorge. CCA works in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management to increase education and outreach programs to communities on the Western Slope.

“From night sky photography to finding fossils, we’ve got a trip for everyone to enjoy,” said Sara Brooker, CCA’s Program Coordinator. “Our trips are guaranteed to provide you with new knowledge and connect you to your public lands.”

CCA’s adventure trips are led by experts on the subject matter—many of whom are seniors—as well as medical personnel, expert guides and CCA staff. The often multi-day experiences provide fun and education, plus great camp-cooked food and safe overnight camping at CCA’s own private Catalpa Camp.

In addition to connecting people to the outdoors, the trips help support CCA’s mission.

“Proceeds from the trips support CCA’s youth education programs, helping us get thousands of kids outside every year,” Brooker said.

CCA partners with local school districts and youth groups, as well as residential and after-school programs for at-risk and underserved youth. Students who participate in the programs often come from families who otherwise wouldn’t have the resources or time to actively engage in these public lands.

Get adventuring

Jon and A’lanne Conrad have joined two CCA adventures so far. They counted over 40 species of birds—in addition to bighorn sheep—on their 2019 birding adventure trip. But they found that the people they meet on the trips is often just as rewarding as experiencing nature’s beauty. Their birding trip mates included an 80-year-old woman who’d made a quilt that hangs in the Smithsonian Institution. On their 2020 river adventure, they met a man who’d built yurts in the national parks before retiring.

Colorado Canyons Association Adventure

The Conrads’ group at Camp Catalpa on CCA’s 2019 Birding Excursion.

The trips are called “adventures” for a reason. The Conrads’ 2020 trip experienced a microburst, with the party enduring horizontal rain and 90 mph winds, damaging Catalpa Camp’s tents. Even though the squall only lasted about 10 minutes, for the Conrads, the memory will last forever! The microburst left nearly everything and everyone soaked, but safe. Jon’s takeaway for these kinds of river adventures: It’s all about appropriate clothing and gear.

“The temperatures can range from 0 to as much as 104,” said Jon, 56. “Be over-ready, especially when swimming, as the water can be very cold.”

The Conrads agreed to go out on another trip, and intend to strongly support CCA both as citizens and as conservation advocates.

2020 Adventures

Colorado Canyons Association Adventure camp

CCA has five trips planned this fall:

•  September 12-13: Night Sky Photography Clinic

•  September 18-20: All-levels Yoga and Wellness Rafting Retreat

•  September 25-27: Geology & Paleontology on the Colorado River

•  October 3: McInnis Canyons NCA Paleontology Tour

•  October 10: Eagle Rock Shelter Float Trip

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CCA stays current with CDC and Mesa County Health Department guidelines. Trip participation is limited. Handwashing stations are available and there will be frequent temperature and symptoms checks.

“As conditions change often, CCA’s future adventures will adapt to ensure the adventurer’s safety and health,” Brooker emphasized.

Trip costs range from $200-500 for day and overnight rafting trips, and from $85-250 for day and overnight hikes. For details and to sign up, visit or call 263-7902.