Gap Year Programs
for adventurous spirits

Build life skills. Be true to yourself.
Satisfy your thirst for community.
Take a transformative gap year!

Gap Year Opportunities to Discover Yourself

An outdoor gap year program adventure, four smiling teens are backpacking with mountains in the background.


Do you desire to be seen, loved, supported and challenged?  Are you interested in a co-creating a community that prioritizes doing this for each other?

A young woman learning from a farmer outdoors in a garden.


Are you interested in finding a way of thinking, being, doing that feels more true to you? Are you interested in discovering what matters to you and then living it?

Six teenagers participating in a wilderness gap year have fun posing for a group photo.


Have you ever had the thought that most of us are too uptight? Why not approach life like a magical adventure?   Why not dream bigger and also skinny dip and dumpster dive?

A teenager spreads her arms, celebrating on top of a mountain.


How does one feel free as a young person in the modern world?  Imagine a group of people encouraging you to follow your heart and stand up and own  what you choose?

Upcoming Gap Year Programs


Taking a Break: Returning to Our Roots with Community Living

We're taking a break from normal programming this year to rest while we assimilate everything we've learned over the past decade of programs to create one that is more effective and magical for the fall of 2025.

Instead past participants and others who strongly value community may come and live on the campus for the growing season.

FALL 2025

Colorado to Mexico

A 15 week program for those committed to building the foundation for living a magical life, a life that feels free, connected to others, and rich in community and purpose.  It includes time living in community in Colorado, adventures in Utah and Arizona, and a road trip to Oaxaca in sourthern Mexico, along with an array of crazy challenges and adventures chosen to transform your life.

From: Aug 6 To Nov 17, 2025

Applications Open: First interviews January 2025.  

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What past participants say about our gap year programs

Two young women talking about their gap year experience with mountains in the background.
A young man hiking in the wilderness with mountains in the background.


Seattle, WA

My gap year at the High Desert Center was easily one of the most transformative, rich, and important experiences I’ve ever had. That year spent in the red canyons and tall mountains and juniper forests and small farms of Southwest Colorado brought me more growth, learning, joy and challenge than I ever imagined. Creating a strong, intentional community with the other participants and staff was a challenging and incredibly rewarding experience.


Atlanta, GA

I joined the program unsure of who I was or what I wanted in life, and found a community that not only accepted me, but celebrated me for everything that I am. From day one, everyone wanted to tear down their walls and be as authentically themselves as possible.  I grew emotionally, physically, and mentally.  I truly believe anybody could gain something profound from coming to the HDC.

Dev Carey, Director of the The High Desert Center and Gap Year Program leader.

Meet Dev Carey, co-director of the High Desert Center and all Gap Year opportunities.

Dev thrives on adventure, outdoors, 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. 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 became an advocate for students and families who were looking for ways to learn outside of the classroom. That advocacy turned into the The Vision Program, a charter program of the Colorado Delta County Public School system. The program supports over 600 elementary, middle and high school students to design their own home and community based educations.

He loves building and living in funky sustainable houses, sharing land and meals with community, "adopted" teenagers and his family: Seraya, Huckleberry, and Marian.

His main work and passion is creating off-the-beaten path adventures with teenagers.