Base Camp - Western Colorado


Paonia, CO

The High Desert Center campus is located in Paonia, Colorado, a picturesque small town tucked between the mountains and the desert in a valley full of organic farms, grapes, orchards, ranches, coal mines and diverse, community-minded people.  Wilderness areas and the Black Canyon National Park are close by. For more see

Our campus is on 80 acres of co-owned Pinon Juniper land two miles above town.  The land is part of a local community of people all living off the grid, in an assortment of earthships, strawbale and cob houses.  A huge dance hall with spectacular views of the Ragged mountains is just above the meadow.

Most people get their water from rain collection, their electricity from the sun, and their eggs from local chicken flocks.

Our Campus

Our campus is constantly evolving and participants take part in shaping its' evolution. Students helped build the majority of structures that make up the High Desert Center.

We have four participant cabins that house five participants each. They are furnished with bunk beds and dressers. Most meals are cooked in our outdoor kitchen. We host classes in our timber frame classroom. Participants spend down time on the deck or around the wood stove in the straw bale structure. For bathing we use an outdoor, solar heated shower in the warm months, and an indoor shower when it gets cold. The toilet is a composting toilet, which uses no water. As a result our program saves 490 gallons of fresh drinking water per person , or 10,780 gallons as a group during the first semester. We regularly take advantage of our large sauna when temperatures cool and jump in the irrigation canal that runs through our property to cool off during hot days.

Main building on the HDC Campus

Getting Here and Getting Mail Here

Participant's can travel here by bus, train, car, or plane. On the first day of the program we will arrange pick-up in Denver and Glenwood Springs.

For visitors, getting to Paonia using public transportation is a bit of a challenge.  The closest airports are Montrose (an hour’s drive from Paonia) and Grand Junction (an hour and a half).  Aspen is also an option and is two hours away.  Finally Denver is about five hours drive away and Salt Lake City is about six.  Greyhound buses, The Bustang, and Amtrak come to Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs (both an hour and a half away) from either Denver or Salt Lake.  The last leg of the journey, from the town you arrive in to Paonia, requires either arranging a ride with us, hitchhiking, or renting a car.

Mailing address:
Your name
c/o Dev Carey/Marian Pierce
39091 Pitkin Rd.
Paonia, CO 81428

Phone: (970) 361-1233 // (970)275-1166