Pacific Northwest | Women’s Wilderness

Immerse yourself in a wonderland of densely forested hills, cool mountain streams, and cascading waterfalls.

Questions? Call NCOAE Support (910) 399-8090


The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) understands that the wilderness is beneficial to all people during all chapters of their lives. Give yourself a week to unwind and focus on yourself. This course is about your journey, both physically and mentally. Let us help take you where you want to go.

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8 days

Course Information

Adventure First

The backcountry provides the perfect backdrop for personal growth and self-exploration

At NCOAE, we’re firm believers that the backcountry provides the perfect backdrop for personal growth and self-exploration. Carrying your necessities on your back and walking step-by-step on a trail requires a subtle pace. We only go where our feet can take us.

Our Pacific Northwest – Women’s Wilderness course is intentionally designed for women who are not regular backpackers. Although this course is stimulating in many ways, the trail through the wilderness covers mostly easy to moderate terrain.

Things terrifically slow down when you’re on the trail, which allows you to relax, establish a sense of place, and develop a connection with nature. As part of this course, we create a culture of reflection and gratitude, and give you an opportunity to connect with other women.

And at the end of this course —you’ll be able to return to your daily life with a renewed sense of purpose and a focus about your direction in life.

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  • Duration: 8 days
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Tuition: $1,950.00
  • Credit Hours: N/A
Available Dates

Education Always

Choose your challenge individually. Our professional guides will help you develop personal and technical goals to design your adventure the way you want it, including:

  • Leave No Trace (LNT) training
  • Expedition planning and logistics
  • Backpacking skills
  • Camp craft, including backcountry cooking and food planning
  • Develop essential skills, needed to travel in pristine destinations around the world!
  • Itinerary
  • FAQs
  • Credits
  • Outcomes
  • Downloads

Itinerary Highlights

  • NCOAE core curriculum
  • Leave No Trace training
  • Gain experience in backcountry travel planning, wilderness risk management, campsite selection, backcountry navigation, and more

Why Take This Course

  • Develop essential wilderness knowledge and skills — while living and learning in Oregon’s wild, beautiful places.
  • Immerse yourself in a wonderland of densely forested hills, cool mountain streams, cascading waterfalls, and stunning rock formations.
  • Refresh your spirit & build lifelong friendships
  • Acquire the outdoor skills needed to travel in pristine destinations around the world!

Where You’ll Be

  • Deschutes National Forest
  • Three Sisters Wilderness
  • Cascade Mountain Range
What is the Women’s Wilderness Initiative (WWI) course?

Created by women, for women, the Women’s Wilderness Initiative course is an eight-day outdoor adventure in the Deschutes National Forest — where participants are immersed in a wonderland of densely forested hills, cool mountain streams and stunning rock formations.

You will spend about half your time developing the technical skills to navigate mountains and rivers, and the other half communing with nature, building lifelong friendships, and refreshing your spirit.

What ages are the women who take the Women’s Wilderness Initiative course?

Ages of students range from 18 to 60 years old with an average of about 30 years.

What activities are included on a Women’s Wilderness Initiative course?

You will engage in a number of fun, exciting, and challenging activities, including

  • Backpacking
  • Camping
  • Hiking
In the context of your wilderness adventure, you develop essential wilderness knowledge and skills, such as how to:
  • Safely navigate the backcountry on foot
  • Read maps and find your way in the wilderness
  • Identify and set up the perfect campsite
  • Prepare meals
  • Learn to ford rivers
  • Appreciate local ecology

Plenty of time is set aside for yoga, journaling, art, and solitude.

How far will I be hiking on any given day when on a Women’s Wilderness Initiative course?

You can expect to hike about three miles a day on average, but distances vary; you may hike six miles one day and not hike at all on another day.

Do I need any wilderness knowledge or experience to participate on the Women’s Wilderness Initiative course?

No. The beauty of this course is that you develop the knowledge and skills required to survive and thrive in the wilderness in the context of the wilderness adventure.

How physically fit do I need to be to handle the Women’s Wilderness Initiative course?

You don’t need to be a triathlete to participate, but you do need to be able to:

  • Carry a 40 pound or more backpack over rough or rugged terrain
  • Maintain a positive attitude while carrying your own equipment and some of the group gear
  • Walk on rugged, slippery terrain or through water while carrying your pack
Will I have any free time during my Women’s Wilderness Initiative course to enjoy the solitude?

Yes. The course allocates a full day to spend alone in the backcountry. The casual pace and team support provide additional opportunities to enjoy the peace and solitude of nature.

What is the maximum number of students per instructor on the Women’s Wilderness Initiative course?

Two instructors lead each group, and course size is limited to twelve students, so each instructor has no more than six students. In addition, a course director is assigned to each group to attend to group and individual needs and to facilitate transitions from one activity to the next.

This course is NOT currently eligible to receive college credit. If you are interested in earning credit for a course, learn more about our Outdoor Educator and Gap Year / Semester courses which may be eligible for up to six college-level credits through The University of North Carolina – Wilmington.

Course Outcomes

This week-long course is for you if you want to have fun backpacking with a group of like-minded women.

Where do you want to go (physically, mentally, socially, etc.)?

Our Women’s Wilderness Initiative course provides a supportive community in a remote setting to allow you to slow down, relax, and (figuratively) climb mountains.  And, the constant and tranquil flow of the river provides a great opportunity for release and personal goal-setting.

How will NCOAE help you get there?

Our all-women team of certified instructors will help you reconnect with yourself and re-establish your personal path to happiness. We also provide the instruction to help you develop your outdoor skills, which will give you the confidence to create your own outdoor adventures.

Upcoming Dates / Reserve Your Spot

This Women’s Wilderness Initiative is only offered through NCOAE, which is why we’re excited to offer it in the Pacific Northwest.

Available Dates
August 05 — August 12, 2021

Travel & Logistics

Meet your group at Baggage Claim at the Portland International Airport (PDX) in Portland, Oregon on Day One of your course. The starting point for your training will be a base camp in the Deschutes National Forest. You will depart for home from the Portland International Airport (PDX) on the last day of your training.

Questions about travel and logistics? Call NCOAE headquarters Mon.-Fri. between 9am-4:30pm ET — (910) 399-8090.