Go far, See Deep


Experience new cultures. Find your people.
Dive into yourself.

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


8-12 participants, ages 17-23; plus our Dev and other staff.

the Teesta river from above with misty sunlight in Northern India


Rural India, Arizona, Colorado.

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


Feb 15 to May 23, 2024

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


$9,975, excluding airtravel to India and home from Denver, CO.

Join us as we explore community and freedom in three dramatically different locations. Dive into food culture, place, spirituality, and adventure. Learn, grow, and make memories that will be with you for a lifetime.

Week 1-6

We will meet up and travel together to Kolkata and then towards the Eastern Himalayas in Kalimpong and Sikkim.  The area is home to the third highest
mountain in the world, close to Nepal and Bhutan, and shares a similar Bhuddist history to Tibet.  We will begin with more urban homestays in Kalimpong, then move on to rural homestays in Sittong and Gitdabling.  Throughout we are hanging with locals experiencing their traditions and world views.  We will also participate in  a several day meditation retreat, work in the fields with villagers, and learn about topics ranging from seed saving to rural healthcare.  Finally, we will be staying in places like Dzongu, a diverse biosphere reserve and with people like activist Tenzing Gyatso

American South West
Week 7-10

Headed to the US, we will jump into a magical bus and drive into remote deserts, canyons and wilderness and also small towns and even a couple big cities.  The goal is to bring the kind of community we experienced in India into road life. We will practice the art of meeting our basic needs (food, water, shelter, friendship, service) in a diverse array of places and situations.  We will bring in the playful wisdom of Dharma Bums and Merry Pranksters and create more magical moments than you thought possible. We guarantee you’ll feel alive and shake up your life.

Week 11-14

During the latter part of this program we will return to our base camp in Paonia, Colorado.  This is a place for us to go into greater depth with the skills of community.  We will find mentors and set up internships for ourselves.  We will also delve into self-sufficiency skills and learn from locals who tan hides, create herbal medicines, carve spoons, or live offgrid. Throughout our time, we will be going deep into the ingredients of freedom, community and the good life.

In the end, most of us feel more alive and connected, and we will take on figuring out how bring these qualities into the next stage of our lives.

group of young people with backpacks on smiling in nature


a young female student is 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.

A male teen student 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