Western retreats offered during spring break

Western retreats offered during spring break

By Jonathan Swartz, @JP_Swartz

Panama City Beach, Fla., is not the only vacation destination for students attempting to enjoy spring break.

Touch of Nature and Outdoor Pursuits are offering spring break getaways with destinations in four western states.

Touch of Nature stopped organizing spring break trips about 15 years ago, said Clayton Sheehan, a graduate student in recreation from Metropolis. 


This year, Touch of Nature is organizing a two-pronged excursion to Utah and Colorado, with an all-inclusive cost of $600.

Sheehan said two groups—one coed, one women—will drive together to Moab, Utah. After rock climbing and rappelling in the area, the women’s group will head to Colorado.

He said the coed group staying in Utah will hike, rock climb, rappel and camp in Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park.

All climbing and activities on the seven-day camping trip are beginner-friendly, Sheehan said, but all skill levels are welcome.

Sheehan said he has been to the area five or six times, and describes the red rock, the arches and the high canyon walls as amazing.

“There is literally nowhere else in the world like it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the women’s group will have activities in Cortez and Durango, Colo., said Annie Linhart, a senior from Peoria studying outdoor recreation leadership and management.


She said the all-women’s group will provide a comfortable atmosphere for everyone and encourage people to step outside their shells.

Pressures some women may normally feel in coed groups will not be present, and ladies will have the chance to enjoy each other’s company, Linhart said.

Touch of Nature is not the only organization providing spring break escape opportunities to students.

Outdoor Pursuits, an organization sponsored by the Recreation Center, is offering students the opportunity to visit parks and wilderness locations in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, said Torri Withrow, a senior from Wayne City, studying outdoor recreation. 

Withrow will help lead the group in visits to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas and Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

Withrow said participants will rock climb and boulder, climbing on large rock formations or boulders for sport, in the wildlife refuge.

The Palo Duro leg will include a number of activities from backpacking to geocaching, which is hunting for hidden objects using GPS coordinates.

Students will go on a guided cave tour in Carlsbad Caverns. Withrow said tours range from self-guided to spelunking, or cave exploration. The group will decide what level of difficulty will best suite their abilities. 

After caving in New Mexico, the group will continue its road trip back to the refuge in Indiahoma, Okla., before returning to southern Illinois. The entire excursion will last seven or eight days, Withrow said.

Withrow said students will camp at each location, and cooking and eating together to build group cohesion.

“One of my passions is helping people find a sense of community,” she said.

The entire trip is meant to be a recreational getaway, but she is certain fun, educational opportunities will arise.

The trip is $450 all-inclusive. Withrow said the only reason students may need to spend additional money is for snacks and souvenirs.

The registration deadline for the Touch of Nature trips is Sunday. Outdoor Pursuits’ deadline is March 2.

Jonathan Swartz can be reached at [email protected]