2023 Gathering Info and Resources

Details and Resources

Be sure to check back as we will be updating this page regularly with new information and details about the gathering, as we have them!

Table of Contents


Deer Hill Base Camp in Mancos, Colorado
7850 County Rd. 41
Mancos, Colorado



We invite you to join us for the 2023 Wilderness Guides Council annual in-person gathering. What a gift to be able to meet in person, and to sit together with the land near Mancos, Colorado.  This is an opportunity to spend spacious and meaningful time with friends and colleagues, old and new. We will talk about what is coming up in the guiding work, how we are meeting this ever-changing world and tending to the challenges of these times. More details to come as the program comes together! For now, here is a bit more about Deer Hill.

The Deer Hill Base Camp is located on the traditional homelands of the Dine and Ute people. It is 130 acres of rolling hills, grassy fields, sage brush meadows, and piñon and juniper forest. The land is populated by ample wildlife – especially Deer. We will have have the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the land and facilities including:

The House with Kitchen and dining area, Meeting Space with a beautiful wood floor and windows, shower house, a wood-stove fired sauna/steam room big enough for about 20 people that Deer Hill uses for ceremony, a small office / lounge space, and accommodations that include 40 acres of open space for camping, camp-like bunks, indoor loft, and cabins.

The Deer Hill Base Camp is 130 acres of rolling hills, grassy fields, sage brush meadows, and piñon and juniper forest. The land is populated by ample wildlife – especially Deer. We have access to all of the land and facilities including: The House with Kitchen and dining area, Meeting Space with a beautiful wood floor and windows, shower house, a wood-stove fired sauna/steam room big enough for about 20 people that Deer Hill uses for ceremony, a small office / lounge space, and accommodations that include 40 acres of open space for camping, camp-like bunks, indoor loft, and cabins.
Deer Hill is in the Four Corners region of the Southwestern United States in the transition zone between the San Juan Mountains and the Canyonlands of Utah. Is about 30 minutes from Durango, CO and 20 minutes from Cortez, CO.  Albuquerque is about 4 hours away. Denver, Phoenix, and Salt Lake are between 6 and 7 hours away.

Transportation to the Gathering

The best airport to fly into is Durango, CO. It is a small airport with mostly commuter flights.  Deer Hill / WGC will be running two shuttles from the airport to the site on September 29th. One in the late morning and one in the afternoon. We will also set up a carpool connections link to support carpooling from the airport or from wherever you may live. Though finding a match is not guaranteed.

Lodging Options

There is ample space for camping on the “North 40.” This is 40 acres of land with views of the La Plata Mountains, water and access to bathrooms and showers. There are also some “bunks” that sleep 12 people available for campers. The bunks are heated and have light and electricity. Access to bathrooms and showers at the public shower house 

$375 (non member)
$350 (member)

“Loft” option – The loft has six bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen. It is heated and is the nicest space available. Rooms have two beds and the prices below are for shared rooms (2 per room).

$550 (non member)
$525 (member)
“Cabin” option – There are 4 bedrooms in the staff building each with two beds and an entrance to the adjoining porch. They call these the “Staff Cabins.” They are heated, have electricity, but no bathrooms. The shower house with bathrooms is close by. The prices below are for shared rooms (2 per room)

$490 (non member)
$465 (member)

**If someone needs a private room for medical, or other, reasons, they can request that from the Gathering Council and we will work out a price.


Deer Hill will be purchasing and preparing our food with some help from us. They will provide options for people with dietary restrictions and preferences such as vegetarian, gluten free, and vegan.

Cancellation Policy

We can provide you a full refund, less $50 up until 2 weeks before the gathering. 


Although we celebrate four distinct seasons here in the south-west, Fall and spring are known to outdoor enthusiasts as shoulder seasons. The desert is cooling down and the high country is not yet covered in deep snow. Which brings us to our climate this time of year. Nights can be brisk. Frost in the morning is not uncommon. It can warm up during the day so pack sunscreen, a sun hat and other sun protection. We could see all four seasons in one 24-hour period. If you are camping, it is a good idea to at least have a tarp for shelter for the frost at night and shade during the day. The mosquitos are mostly gone but there could be some hangers on. We can provide you a full refund, less $50 up until 2 weeks before the gathering.

Things To Do In The Area

Food in Mancos:

  • Absolute Bakery – Cafe & Bakery owned by Former Director of Deer Hill
  • Zuma Natural Foods / Food Coop –  https://zumafoods.com/

Depending on your budget and time, there is no shortage of activities. 

  • The Aspen Loop right above Mancos is a beautiful 40 mile loop that takes in some of the best fall foliage. It’s rideable on a gravel bike. See Bikepacking.com for more information.
  • Depending on water levels in the rivers, the fly-fishing in the Dolores and the Animas are legendary. You’ll need a license. Find all the information you need at San Juan National Forest.
  • If you are into Mountain Biking, Phil’s World is a stone’s throw from Deer Hill on the way to Cortez. Which by the way hosts, some stellar eats and a few historic motels. There is high elevation single track in the San Juan’s AND the La Plata’
  • Archeological sites are in abundance. In fact, the dust under your feet may be hiding pot sherds. But it is illegal and disrespectful to pick them up. The Canyon of the Ancients Monument is all around you.
  • Take in Hovenweep about an hour from Deer Hill. Before you go please visit the Canyon of the Ancients Visitor Center between Mancos and Dolores.
  • IF you have more time (3 or 4 days) a visit to the new Bear’s Ears Monument is worth the time. Drive or cycle through Valley of the Gods Utah on your way to the Bear’s Ears Visitor Center in Bluff, Utah.

Activities (Most of the following can be accessed within a half a day or less from Deer Hill):

Hot Springs:

  • Orvis Hot Springs -Ridgway
  • Pagosa Hot Springs- Pagosa
  • Piedra Hot Springs-Undeveloped on the Piedra River. A bit of a hike but it’s beautiful

Mountain Biking:

  • Phil’s World
  • Alien Trails
  • Durango Mountain
  • Ned Overend Park

Bike Packing:

The La Plata and the San Juans are to home to hundreds of miles of trails in the Weminuche Wilderness.

  • The Aspen Loop
  • Bear’s Ears Monument Loop
  • Moki Dugway and Cedar Mesa.
  • For cultural guided tours visit: https://www.dziltaahadventures.com/

Four Wheeling:

Several Loops leading out of Telluride, Ophir, and Silverton are a few hours away.

Rock Climbing:

  • Utah-Indian Creek
  • Durango-East Animas right off CR 250
  • Stop at Bread Bakery on your way

Fly Fishing:

  • Animas River Durango
  • Dolores River in Dolores
  • National Parks & Monuments
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Canyonlands
  • Arches National Park
  • Hovenweep
  • Chimney Rock
  • Canyons of the Ancients

Cultural sites:

Historic sites:

  • Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
  • The town of Silverton in the heart of the San Juans hosts a distillery and a long history of mining.
  • Animas Forks above Silverton is a ghost town.

Art & Music in Mancos:

More Info About Deer Hill

Remote desert valleys and some of the highest peaks in the lower forty-eight are within just a few hours drive from Deer Hill.

Deer Hill is a small adventure and community Service program based in Colorado that provides wilderness expeditions and cultural exchange to 150 participants each summer and 20-30 organizations throughout the year. Founders Doug and Beverly Capelin built Deer Hill’s Basecamp in Mancos, Colorado.  The property is at the foot of the majestic Rocky Mountains, and a stone’s throw from the rivers and canyons of southeast Utah. Over the past 30 years, the Capelins have built strong relationships with families and community leaders in the Navajo Nation, Ute Tribe and Hopi and Zuni pueblos. Deer Hill’s programs are built on the kind of intimate relationships with people and places that take time and dedication to create.

Visas to the United States

For all non-U.S. citizens:

Certain countries do not require a visa for entry to the U.S. for a temporary period (3 months), though you are still required to apply for an ESTA for travel to the U.S.: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

See the following link for valid counties for visa waiver program: https://uk.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-waiver-program/non-immigrant-visa-waiver-program-vwp/

Additionally here is the summary/general page about US visas.



Those not eligible for the visa waiver program must apply for a tourist visa, category B2 in your own country. You will need to apply for this visa in your country before visiting the U.S. Please ensure you do this in good time, as this process can be lengthy and can take some months for completion. The cost is $160. Here is a link to the U.S. government web page about this visa: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visitor.html

Additionally here is a link to a pdf. document detailing more information about this visa: https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/PDF-other/VisaFlyer_B1B2_March_2015.pdf

NOTE: The Wilderness Guides Council will provide a formal letter inviting you to the gathering, which may be useful in your application for a B2 visa. Please contact us for an electronic copy you can print out.

For citizens of South Africa:

Please visit the following link for more information:


For Citizens of Germany:



For citizens of the Ukraine:

Please visit the following link for more information:


Suggestions to help with your visa application process

List of documents you might need to submit your application

✓ Passport both international and national

✓  Photo according to U.S. requirements: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/photos.html#nonimmigrant

✓ Application fee payment receipt

To support your interview process, bring the following documents to support your answers:

✓   Employment certificate and/or certificate of entrepreneur

✓   Bank account statement

✓   Tax declaration including social security and pension

✓   Invitation for the Gathering

✓    Airplane tickets

✓    Hotel/Airbnb booking confirmation

✓    Documents of ownership of property (if any) and/or rental agreement for your accommodation in your city

Once you register we can also send you additional suggestions for additional ways to prepare for your visa application process.