Experience the best of Utah's outdoors
Education at the University of Utah is more than classrooms, textbooks, and rushing to make it to your next class. It’s also the howl of a coyote, drifting over the sage. It’s the wind against your face, as you climb up a vertical rock face. It’s the haunting image of a petroglyph that sends your curiosity tumbling headfirst into cultures of long ago. It’s the laughter shared around a campfire among new friends. It’s the constellations twinkling overhead as you nestle into your sleeping bag, thinking of your role in the cosmos and what infinite possibilities exist.
U-EXPLORE classes are open to students at the University of Utah. Intensive, short duration, 2-credit experiential learning classes with over 90 different sections of classes each year, delivered by professional and experienced instructor teams. If your tired of being stuck in the classroom, answer the call of adventure, see what makes Utah unlike anywhere else, and get credit while you do it.
Land, Snow, or Water?
Titles are listed under three department names, each based in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism
See what our courses are like
We've made videos of some of our previous courses so you can get an idea of what they're like.
See complete course catalog
See a complete list of current U-EXPLORE courses
There are plenty of options for you to find a course you're interested in. Some of our land courses cover hiking, backpacking, marksmanship, fly fishing, biking. Some have additional components of night exploration, photography, or outdoor cooking. Many take place in our of the 5 National Parks within Utah's borders.
Utah's. mountains receive some of the best snow in the world. If you're interested in experiencing what Utah is known for, one of our courses in cross-country skiing, avalanche preparedness, snowshoeing, or one of our other courses.
If you're looking for a unique way to see and experience some of Utah's most beautiful scenery take one of our water courses. Courses can include kayaking, canoeing, and even yoga.
Check out our photo gallery!
Whether you're thinking about an expedition to Fiji, or maybe just a hike closer to home, we've helped students like you see so many different terrains and experience so many different opportunities. See what U-EXPLORE has to offer. We've collected some of our favorite experiences and adventures and put them on our Smugmug account.
Why choose Utah?
With 15 world-class ski resorts
and 5 National Parks
The real question is why not?
Utah’s spectacular natural landscapes serve as the backdrop to U-EXPLORE’s intensive, short duration, 2-credit experiential learning classes. We offer over 90 different sections of classes each year, delivered by professional and experienced instructor teams.
From the highest peaks of the Wasatch to the deepest canyons of the Colorado Plateau, students learn about outdoor recreation skill development, natural and cultural history, environmental ethics, and public land conservation. They learn about how to safely manage the risks associated with iconic Utah recreational pursuits, like backcountry skiing, rock climbing, canyoneering, and river running. They learn about indigenous cultures native to Utah, about the forests and deserts, and about the integrated ecosystems that define Utah. Our classes are more than just experiences--they help you learn the skills to explore Utah’s wildlands for yourself.
What to expect
Most classes begin with a pre-trip meeting the week before spending Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the wilderness. Depending on the activity and the course, the “classroom” may be sea kayaking through the sandstone coves on Lake Powell, rappelling the cliffs and towers near Arches National Park, day hiking along the rocky trails of the High Uinta Mountains, or bikepacking through the pinyon-covered mesas of Bears Ears National Monument.
Academic assignments are required for all classes, and these are designed to foster reflection, learning transfer, and broaden the meaning of the time spent outside. We have classes every weekend of the Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters to accommodate your busy schedule and allow you the chance to connect with something greater than a campus made of concrete and mortar.
Frequently asked questions
What kinds of outdoor adventure courses are offered?
Hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, canyoneering, canoeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, fly fishing, swiftwater rescue, snowboarding, skiing, avalanche awareness, and more.
May I earn credits toward graduation by successfully completing a U-EXPLORE course?
Yes. These courses typically offer the opportunity to earn 2 credits, though a few are listed at 1 or 3 credits. Almost all of them are offered on a “credit – no credit” basis, and their successful completion does appear on your transcript and count toward graduation.
What demands on my schedule are required to complete these courses?
Due to the outdoor environment in which the field trips take place, courses start and end at various points throughout the semester, requiring different add and drop rules. Most involve one night of classes and a three-day field trip. Others have different schedules. Some involve overnight camping, some do not. Some require Sunday field trip involvement, some do not.
Where do I find these courses in the University of Utah’s Schedule of Classes?
Courses are listed under Parks, Recreation, & Tourism on the University of Utah General Course Catalog.
There are two ways to find courses from this page:
- Using search: At the top of the page, you can use the search bar with the following terms "prtw" for water courses, "prtl" for land courses, or "prts" for snow courses.
- Scroll to the drop-down menu: You may also scroll to the dropdown menus listed as “Parks, Recreation & Tourism: Outdoor Adventure – Land”, “Parks, Recreation & Tourism: Outdoor Adventure – Snow”, or “Parks, Recreation & Tourism: Outdoor Adventure – Water”.
Who can answer more specific questions that I have, or send a sample syllabus to me?
Contact the program coordinators, Nate Furman and Nate Bricker
We've documented previous experiences so you can see what it's like.
How to Register
To register for our classes, visit PRTL, PRTW, and PRTS on the CIS portal for our land-based, water-based, and snow-based classes, respectively.