Wilderness Orientation

Wilderness Orientation (WO) 2020 is postponed due to COVID-19. We are considering options for offering WO during the 2020-21 school year.


For over 35 years, UCSC's Wilderness Orientation has proven time and again to be an invaluable experience for incoming college students. Throughout the trip students are introduced to both wilderness travel and the approaching college environment, both within the context of a healthy group experience.

WO was founded in 1983 to deliver an incredible community-building outdoor experience to incoming students that allows them to:

  • Make friends and gain the confidence needed to dive into the college experience
  • Learn basic backpacking and sea kayaking skills
  • Have opportunities to discuss college life and unique features of a UCSC education with instructors
  • Learn about oneself through the triumphs and challenges of being in the wilderness

The beautiful, informal setting provides students with an excellent opportunity to form new friendships and discuss their hopes and fears for the upcoming UCSC experience.

Wilderness Orientation trips are open to UCSC incoming frosh and transfer students only.


WO Staff

The WO staff takes great pride in the program and strives to create meaningful experiences for all participants. Each hiking and kayaking group of 10-12 students is led by an instructor, an assistant instructor, and a student volunteer. All of our staff make safety their first priority. Each instructor is highly skilled in backpacking, rock climbing, expedition kayaking and group facilitation, as well as wilderness first aid certified. Each leader works hard to encourage positive and supportive group dynamics. They are dedicated, energetic, and inspiring people.

WO trips typically include: 

1) Ten-day backpacking excursions into California's spectacular Sierra Nevada Mountains.

2) Eight-day sea kayaking adventures in Tomales Bay located in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Registration for WO is first come, first served. 

Special Note: Wilderness Orientation can be a physically and emotionally demanding experience. If you are under the care of a doctor concerning your physical or emotional health, please consult them before registering for this program.


Adventure Rec Office
(831) 459-2807