ACA Canyon Leader Certification is a recreational certification program. It is intended for individuals who facilitate canyoneering programs in group settings such as college outdoor recreation leaders, experiential education program instructors, wilderness therapy staff, camp directors, and youth leaders.

The mission of the Canyon Leader Certification Program is to improve canyoneering safety by developing qualified mentors, thereby reducing the number of canyon descent parties that have only beginner level skills. Goals of the program include: (1) Provide training and mentoring for beginner canyoneers, and (2) Provide advanced skills and canyon rescue training for experienced canyoneers who volunteer to serve as mentors for beginners.

Our Canyon Leader Certification Program consists of three levels:

  • Aspirant
  • Assistant Canyon Leader
  • Canyon Leader

Aspirant Canyon Leader

An Aspirant Canyon Leader (Aspirant) is an individual who has passed an Aspirant Assessment that includes skills from the ACA's Core and Aspirant Skills Checklists. Aspirant Assessments are conducted by Assistant Canyon Leaders or Canyon Leaders, or higher. Aspirants have expressed their intent to pursue additional technical training, leadership training and mentoring through the ACA.

If accepted into our Aspirant Canyon Leader program you will have opportunities to assist ACA Canyon Leaders in conducting Intro to Canyoneering Workshops and Practice Sessions.

In return, the ACA will offer opportunities for advanced training. You will also be eligible to participate in our Leader-Guide Canyon Rendezvous (GLAR).

Note: Aspirant Canyon Leaders may not accept any form of compensation from participants for their service.

Aspirant Canyon Leader -- Step by Step

1. Start building your Canyon Resume (must descend 12 canyons before assessing)

2. Pass the ACA's Aspirant Assessment. ***Prerequisite: 12 canyon descents (Must have 12 canyon descents BEFORE assessing)

3. Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following:

    • minimum of 25 canyon descents;
    • minimum of 5 unique canyons descended. (i.e. Cannot descend the same canyon 25 times)

4. Create and maintain your member profile on the ACA's website.

Assistant Canyon Leader

An Assistant Canyon Leader is an individual who has passed the Assistant Canyon Leader Assessment that includes skills from the ACA's Core, Aspirant, and Assistant Canyon Leader Skills Checklists. Assistant Canyon Leader assessments are conducted by a Canyon Leader or higher.

Once certified as an Assistant Canyon Leader you will be eligible to participate in free leader skills clinics and practice sessions, as well as our Leader-Guide Canyon Rendezvous.

Note: Assistant Canyon Leaders may not accept any form of compensation from participants for their service.

Assistant Canyon Leader -- Step by Step

1. Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following:

    • minimum of 50 canyon descents
    • minimum of 15 unique canyons descended (i.e. Cannot descend the same canyon 50 times)

2. Pass the ACA's Assistant Canyon Leader Assessment. ***Prerequisite: 25 canyon descents (Must have 25 canyon descents BEFORE assessing)

3. Submit the appropriate First Aid / CPR certification (Basic First Aid / CPR in USA)

4.Create and maintain your member profile on the ACA's website.

How long does Assistant Canyon Leader designation last?

Assistant Canyon Leader designation is valid for three years.

How do I re-new my Assistant Canyon Leader designation?

Retake the assessment

OR..

Assess at the next level.

OR...

Participate in 16 hours of continuing education / training

AND...

  1. Must hold a valid basic First Aid/CPR certification.
  2. Keep your member profile current on the ACA's website

Canyon Leader

A Canyon Leader is an individual who has passed the Canyon Leader Assessment that includes skills from the ACA's Core, Aspirant, Assistant Canyon Leader, and Canyon Leader Skills Checklists. Canyon Leader assessments are conducted by Canyon Leaders or higher

Once certified as Canyon Leader you will be eligible to participate in free leader skills clinics and practice sessions, as well as our Leader-Guide Canyon Rendezvous.

Note: Canyon Leaders may not accept any form of compensation from participants for their service.

Canyon Leader -- Step by Step

1. Must be current Assistant Canyon Leader.

2. Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following:

    • minimum of 75 canyon descents;
    • minimum of 25 unique canyons descended (i.e. Cannot descend the same canyon 75 times)

3. Pass the ACA’s Canyon Leader Assessment. ***Prerequisite: 50 canyon descents (Must have 50 canyon descents BEFORE assessing)

4. Submit the appropriate First Aid / CPR Certification. (WFA in the USA)

5. Create and maintain your member profile on the ACA's website.

How long does Canyon Leader designation last?

Canyon Leader designation is valid for three years.

How do I re-new my Canyon Leader designation?

Retake the assessment.

OR...

Participate in 16 hours of continuing education / training  + 2 Training Events (GLAR/Rondys/Ground School/Intro Classes)

AND...

  1. Must hold a valid Wilderness First Aid/CPR certification.
  2. Keep your member profile current on the ACA's website

What people are saying …

"This was a great opportunity for me to get exposure to a myriad of new techniques for use in future canyoneering exploits. The experience and perspective of the instructors added another dimension and contributed greatly to the value of the course."

May 28, 2015

"This course will easily become the standard by which any other canyoneering course will be judged. It was amazing that the professional mountaineering guides found a lot to learn, but the pace was such that a neophyte like me could also pick things up quickly."

May 28, 2015

"It's unbelievable how much we have learned in one week. Great teaching and patience displayed by all instructors. Great body of knowledge taught. Good hands-on experience. Good pace and sequence of topics."

July 14, 2019

"Even though I have climbed for 15 years, I learned a lot of new, cool techniques. Wow! Great course."

May 28, 2015

"All I can say is WOW! Terrific course. I had already taken a course from a private guide service and was concerned I might not learn anything new in the ACA basic course. My concerns were totally unfounded. I paid half as much for the ACA course and learned at least twice as much. By my math that's four times the value. Keep up the good work, ACA."

May 28, 2015

"I took one of the classes AZ Rock and Canyon offered and can not say enough about it! Tom and Jeremiah went over everything and why we do things the way we do so you have a better understanding of everything. After their class and small rappels, we met up the next day to do a canyon and put into practice what we learned with three trained people helping us along the way. I give them 10 stars out of 5! Take their classes, you will not be disappointed. I have also told several people about their gear and they love it!" - Brandon Guard

March 17, 2021

"I wanted to thank you again for the course on technical canyoneering last weekend. It truly was a great course and I am very glad I took it. I learned so much that I think I went into information-overload. So I tried to focus on the main principles you reinforced in the scenarios more than anything else: repetition, repetition, repetition. I guess I am writing because I am so grateful. I have been on the ACA website these last few days and I have noticed how much effort you put into the site, promoting the sport and the proper techniques. Thanks, it has opened up a whole new world for me.”

May 28, 2015

"Bruce has such a passion for what he does, he is so encouraging, has such fun stories and can be serious when doing things that required that."

January 13, 2022