Live the Good Life

A Freedom loving gap year program for adventure seeking folks.

Live in the moment. Find your people. Dive deep.

A group of young people pose for a gap year program photo, looking hip and silly


12 participants, ages 17-23; plus our Dev and other staff.

Lake Atilan and the docks in front of the volcano San Pedro in Giatemala


Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Sonora, MEX and Baja, MEX.

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


February 23, 2023 to April 20, 2023

young man smiling on the side of the road with his thumb up, hitchhiking


$3,500, excluding travel to and from Grand Junction, CO.


For eight weeks we practice living in the moment while riding an old bus throughout the southwest and Mexico.

We will live spontaneously.  We will meet strangers, walk into remote landscapes and dumpster dive.  We will sleep under bridges, climb trees during storms, skinny dip in desert pools.

We will eat simply--lentils, rice, olive oil, and oats, but spice it up with food we find in dumpsters or with roadkill or that we buy with money we earn busking.  We’ll spend virtually no money except for diesel for the bus.  We will rarely look at screens and frequently sit around campfires..

We will be uncomfortable. We’ll take risks.

We will visit breath-taking iconic places but not as traditional tourists.  No entrance fees and gift shops for us.  Rather, we’ll sneak in the back way or follow the remote dirt road.  We’ll walk long distances; maybe hitch hike if it feels right.  We’ll visit cities too and immerse ourselves in the chaos while finding hidden places to sleep.

We’ll drive backroads in Mexico, the Sonoran desert, Sky Islands, Utah sandstone, ancestral ruins,  and forgotten places.

We guarantee you’ll feel alive and shake up your life.

group of young people with backpacks on smiling in nature


young woman wearing red top smiling


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.

Young man smiling wearing floral shirt outdoors in the Colorado desert


Nevada City, CA

If you are looking for a Gap Year program where you expect the unexpected, this is it. Be prepared for something that will change you in ways you never anticipated. This program is an amazing combination of outdoor leadership skills, emotional growth, and community building, which makes for an amazing Gap Year that could never be repeated.


Today! We are currently accepting applications.

Have more questions:

Where will you sleep? What will you eat? What will each day look like?

Can I Afford a Gap Year?

When we ask our students why they chose us, many say words like “community,” “philosophy” or “strong recommendations.”  Another thing we commonly hear is that our programs are affordable. Read more about how the HDC offers the most affordable gap year program out there.

A group of young people pose for a gap year program photo, looking hip and silly