Gap Years for Adventurous Spirits | High Desert Center
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How do you want to live your life?

The High Desert Center Gap Year programs specialize in helping you figure that out and begin.


The chance to be seen and accepted for who you already are.  The chance to become who you want to be.  The chance to see the world for what it is and what it could be.


Our Gap Year programs teach the skills that change your experience, like how to make everyday life an adventure, how to take care of yourself, how to make a difference, how to connect.


We inspire rather than coerce.  We are homespun and informal.  We dumpster dive, skinny dip and challenge you to be real.  We get dirty. We think big.


Our participants don’t want to sign up for an ordinary Gap Year program; they want to co-create adventures.  They don’t want rules; they want choices and opportunities.

less blurry

GAP YEAR 2021/22

One year, two dynamic semesters.

Sept. 2021-April 2022

Combine a fall of local adventure and community in Colorado with a Spring traveling throughout the Southwest and to Guatemala. The result is an educated and inspired understanding of one’s impact in the world.



Grow greens, climb mountains, create community.

Sept – Nov  2021

The full homesteading experience combined with a rich mix of play and adventure in the Rocky Mountains. This semester will shape your values and character while you develop skills that help build and contribute to community.




Belfast, ME

When I first arrived at the High Desert Center I could never have imagined how much I would grow to love and value all those unfamiliar faces I met in the airport. I wouldn’t have even dreamed of all the laugh-till-you-can’t-breathe moments, the sense of support and excitement every time we accomplished something together, and the tears both of sadness and of joy we would all share.

Oscar Wolfenstein


Seattle, WA

At the High Desert Center, I felt for the first time in my life that I had a place and a purpose entirely to myself. The environment provides a hands-on education in sustainable living and community building, and the staff engages each participant earnestly, asking participants to discover what we truly care about and to explore the numerous options presented by our ambitions.



Chicago, IL

The High Desert Center completely changed my outlook on life. I learned to live in a place where truly anything felt possible. I discovered a love for backpacking and the fact that living in three shirts and two pairs of pants for a month wasn’t all that hard! I created relationships that will last me through the rest of my life.


Meet Dev Carey, director of the High Desert Center and all Gap Year programs.

Dev thrives on adventure and connection with others.  He’s had “normal” jobs like working for Sterling College, with inner city youth as a VISTA Volunteer, as a counselor at Not Back to School Camp, and as a river guide, but mostly he’s created off-the-beaten path adventures with teenagers. He has a Ph.D. in ecology and still now and then writes plant and animal guides with local youth. While working on his dissertation, he found himself being an advocate for students and families learning outside of the classroom. That advocacy turned into The Vision Program, which utilizes public funds to support over 600 students in learning however and wherever they want while still earning a diploma. Currently, he lives in funky old houses he built and shares land and meals with various folks and his family–Seraya, Huckleberry, Marian, and “adopted” teenagers.