Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico’s hiking paradise, keeps getting better

High-Adventure Week is a once-a-year Bryan on Scouting event that celebrates the once-in-a-lifetime experiences offered at the BSA’s four national high-adventure bases.


High-Adventure-Week-2015---PhilmontGetting to Philmont Scout Ranch isn’t easy. The drive from the Denver airport takes more than four hours. The airport in Albuquerque, N.M., is a little closer — but not by much.

Once you’re there, though? Whoa. Saying it’s worth the trip is an understatement.

That remote setting in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is what makes Philmont so special. It’s what has compelled more than 1 million Scouts, Venturers and adult leaders to visit Philmont since its first camping season in 1939.

Philmont-Roger-Morgan-1Philmont, located near the New Mexico-Colorado border, is a hiking paradise. It’s really two places in one, with the sides separated by a simple road.

This post will focus on the high-adventure side, from which young people and adults depart each day during the summer on 7- or 12-day treks. During those life-changing treks they explore miles of rugged trails and stop at several of the 34 staffed camps and 55 trail camps.

Then there’s the training side — the Philmont Training Center — where more than 6,000 Scouters and family members attend a conference each year. In one of the best settings imaginable, they learn about the latest Scouting tools and techniques, share ideas with fellow Scouters and interact with experienced faculty members. All registered Scouters are invited to attend training center courses (and bring the whole family with them). Council approval is no longer required.

The 2017 trek lottery

The calendar says 2015, but Philmont’s already planning for 2017. Once again, treks will be allotted through an online lottery. The 2017 lottery window opens today — Oct. 28, 2015 — and closes Nov. 18, 2015.

There’s no cost to enter the lottery, and you aren’t committed if your plans change. If there’s a chance your Scouts or Venturers will want to go in 2017, you should submit an entry. Here’s how:

  1. Visit this site.
  2. Complete this registration worksheet (PDF), which also has some good info about the process.
  3. Enter your registration information.
  4. Request promotional materials to recruit crew members.

Note: This is a lottery, so there’s no advantage to being the first one to register. As long as your entry — one per unit max — is submitted during the window, you’re good.

Philmont-Brian-Payne-1Other Philmont news worth reading

  • The Philmont Advisor Skill School, or PASS, has been a big success. The courses, held across the country, help better prepare adult advisors so they can confidently lead their crew in an upcoming Philmont trek. Some 400 people registered in the first 60 days. Here’s one review from a course attendee:
    • “Attended a Philmont Advisor Skills School (PASS) class yesterday at Shabbona Lake State Park in Illinois. Eric Martinez, chief Ranger, was an awesome instructor, and his two Ranger helpers were also very helpful. I highly recommend this course for anyone who is planning to attend Philmont Scout Ranch — or even thinking about it. The class was hands-on and extremely informative.”
  • Philmont Individual Programs are aimed at young people who can’t or don’t want to attend Philmont with a full crew. I’ve blogged about these individual adventures before; today’s news is that spots for 2016 are still available.
  • Philmont is open all year long. Learn more about Autumn Adventure and Winter Adventure.
  • Philmont will send you free promotional materials. Get the scoop on how to get handouts, banners and brochures here.
  • Whether you’re a frequent Philmont-er or are still dreaming of your first visit, there’s gear you’ll love at the award-winning Tooth of Time Traders.

How to register and learn more

Visit the Philmont website or call 575-376-2281.


Photos by Thao Nguyen, Roger Morgan and Brian Payne. Thanks to Philmont’s Bryan Hayek for the info.

4 Comments

  1. Need more info quickly?? Contact your council’s PHILMONT AMBASSADOR – every council is encouraged to designate a volunteer as the council’s PHILMONT AMBASSADOR. We (I am the Philmont Ambassador for Garden State Council and have taken the Philmont Ambassador seminar at PTC) receive all the latest info and have direct contact with personnel at Philmont (HoME).

    So use your resources and get more info. We are especially hyped on the Individual Programs and PTC as these programs can take a few more people!! get to Philmont and enjoy!!

    I have trekked it 6 times, been to PTC over a dozen times, and been on PTC Faculty 3 times. My daughter has 3 PTC trip, 6 treks, and 5 seasons on staff!!

    Dave Lyons
    Garden State Council, NJ

  2. There are several kinds of treks that you can build based on your interests. You can sample historical program sites and outdoor skills sites. You can find treks that emphasize conservation and trail maintenance.

    You can also take treks that weave science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into the trek experience. These treks are becoming increasingly popular. Check out the trek description on the Philmont web site.

  3. Don’t forget about doing a cavalcade! Tenafly Troop 86, along with a few scouts from nearby troops, had a blast on a five-day cavalcade this past August. Our horseman James and wrangler Katie were the best! The countryside is breathtaking. One of the hardest and most memorable things I’ve ever done in my life.

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