VERDE RIVER BACKPACKING
DATES: March 14-20, 2015

MEET IN: Phoenix, AZ

ACTIVITIES: Backpacking

OPEN TO: Anyone ages 18 and over.

DIFFICULTY: Moderately challenging. Maximum six miles of hiking with a pack, usually less. Desert conditions can be wildly unpredictable and extreme this time of year. Appropriate for anyone in good physical health regardless of previous outdoor experience.

APPLICATION DATES: December 1-31, 2014

COST: Sliding scale $250-400, pay what you can. Includes food and transportation to and from meetup site. Two full fellowships available, see information when applications open.


Arizona is a land of harnessed waters, with every drop diverted to serve a human impulse, whether it be golf courses or cotton farms. The Verde River, though, flows 125 unimpeded miles before reaching its first dam near Phoenix. It’s a wild vein through the center of the state, from Mogollon Rim country to join the Salt, the Gila, and finally the once-mighty Colorado.


Our trip will access a remote stretch of the Verde where existing wilderness abuts unprotected roadless areas threatened by welfare ranching, mining, and development. In the home of the Yavapai-Apache, we’ll learn about the people who have tended this land for generations, and see evidence of how European settlement has resculpted the natural systems.


This is a backpacking trip that includes some days off. We like to aim for a destination and, staying flexible to our group’s desires and abilities, set up a base camp from which we can explore by day-hiking without our packs. Although the terrain is rugged, the emphasis is less on athleticism and more about seeking a creatively abundant experience that revels in the subtleties of this place, and makes room for group connections and individual discovery. That means art projects, a shared reader of relevant texts, instruction on the basics of backcountry living, and time to reflect on your own thoughts or lack thereof. Also, it’s no accident that we’re headed for perennial waters. While the rest of the country thaws toward spring, we’ll be sitting in the river.


APPLICATIONS FOR OUR PROFESSIONAL TRIPS OPEN DECEMBER 1, 2014



OREGON DESERT ALUMNI BACKPACKING

DATES: May 17-23, 2015

MEET IN: Portland, OR or Boise, ID

ACTIVITIES: Backpacking

OPEN TO: All Signal Fire alumni

DIFFICULTY: Challenging. On and off-trail hiking and route-finding in rugged and remote country.

APPLICATION DATES: December 1-31, 2014

COST: Sliding scale $150-300, pay what you can. Note: Food, gear, and transportation for the alumni trip is self-organized by the group with support from Signal Fire, and is not included in the trip fee.


Deepen your creative engagement with the wild landscape and your involvement with Signal Fire by spending a week in Oregon’s remote and exceptional southeast corner. Alumni and visiting artists from any of our programs are eligible for this trip, which includes a more thorough introduction to the skills you need to guide your own backpacking trips.


This is a far-flung land of isolated mountain ranges, twisting canyons, and hot springs. Here in the Great Basin, it feels as far from the wet western Cascades as Arizona, and this rare and fragile ecosystem is sparsely populated, seldom-visited, and largely unprotected by the federal agencies who manage its future. Signal Fire guides will highlight important aspects of the region’s ecology, as well as to instigate discussions about the idea of wilderness and our roles as humans and artists in shaping it.


This trip is open to anyone who has fully completed any Signal Fire trip or Wide Open Studios course.


APPLICATIONS FOR OUR PROFESSIONAL TRIPS OPEN DECEMBER 1, 2014


UMATILLA PACK-N-PARK

DATES: July 19-25, 2015

MEET IN: Portland, OR or Pendleton, OR

ACTIVITIES: Backpacking

OPEN TO: Anyone ages 18 and over.

DIFFICULTY: Moderately challenging. Maximum six miles of hiking with a pack, usually less.

APPLICATION DATES: December 1-31, 2014

COST: Sliding scale $250-400, pay what you can. Includes food and transportation to and from meetup site. Two full fellowships available, see information when applications open.


The Umatilla flows from the western flanks of eastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains, a subrange of the Rockies that merges the Cascades ecosystem with aridity and granite. The Umatilla watershed is both the ancestral and present-day home of a thriving Native American community (the adjoining reservation is shared by the Cayuse, Walla-Walla, and Umatilla tribes). Grey wolves are returning to the area after decades of absence, and in many ways the conflicts of the Blue Mountains are a microcosm of the West.


Our journey will visit contemporary cultural institutions on the Umatilla Reservation before traveling to a nearby Wilderness and areas that are at threat from ranching and timber extraction. Readings and discussions will evaluate the idea of wilderness in the context of colonial settlement and Native American  struggles for sovereignty and human rights.


The ‘pack-n-park’ model is our way of getting the best of all worlds: we backpack away from the roads and buildings and then set up a base camp from which to explore the surrounding countryside.


APPLICATIONS FOR OUR PROFESSIONAL TRIPS OPEN DECEMBER 1, 2014