Canyoneering is not a new sport; it has been around for decades. It has, however, enjoyed a tremendous surge in popularity over the past several years. Unfortunately, many of the people who are discovering this exciting sport remain unaware of the inherent risks and the complex technical skills required to enjoy it safely. The rope skills learned from rock climbing and rappelling are a good start, but will prove to be inefficient, and sometimes dangerous, in an aquatic or semi-aquatic canyon environment.

Since 1999, the American Canyoneering Association (ACA) has been the premier source for training, technical information and services for recreational canyoneers, canyon leaders, guides and rescue professionals in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia and around the globe.

The ACA Curriculum

The ACA established a standard training curriculum, developed by three of the most experienced canyoneers on the planet - Rich Carlson, Dave Black and Charly Oliver. The curriculum follows a series of Skills Checklists and represents the most comprehensive technical training available, designed to enhance safety, efficiency and enjoyment for canyoneers of all experience levels.

Level 1 - Intro to Canyoneering

Intro to Canyoneering provides students with the basic personal canyoneering skills needed to descend easy canyons as team members with competent leaders and mentors.

Level 2 - Technical Canyoneering

Technical Canyoneering provides students with the intermediate anchor, rigging and on-rope skills needed to become contributing team members with competent leaders and mentors.

Level 3 - Advanced Canyoneering

Advanced Canyoneering provides students with the advanced rigging skills needed to become effective problem-solvers for a team of canyoneers.

Level 4 - Canyon Rescue

       Canyon Rescue provides students with companion rescue skills needed to become
       self sufficient problem-solvers for most canyon problems.


Seek instruction from ACA Guides/Instructors who follow the ACA Curriculum to learn skills from the ACA's Level 1, 2, 3 and 4 Skills Checklists. Get out and descend canyons. Lots of canyons. Practice your skills. The key to becoming a good leader or guide is to become accomplished in the sport.


You will find many courses, workshops and practice sessions (many of them free) listed on the ACA Canyoneering Meetup Group.

What people are saying …

"It was a privilege learning from a master like Dave. The natural anchor systems he taught showed a great deal of creativity. It was refreshing to hear from someone who could speak from many years of real practical experience, instead of those chest-thumpers on the chat group. Thank you for caring about us newbies."

May 28, 2015

"Thank you to Rich and the rest of the group for sharing all your knowledge with me and taking the extra time to help me get up to speed with the rest of the class. Even if I only remember a fraction of what I learned it will be worth every minute in the class."

May 28, 2015

"Awesome opportunity Rich knows his stuff. His emphasis on safety, patience and his obvious love of teaching canyoneering really make the difference."

June 1, 2015

"The knowledge I have gained in these few days was incredible. My expectations were far exceeded. Thanks to Rich and Stefan for great instruction and smooth improv when needed."

May 28, 2015

"Maybe I shouldn't say this since I'm planning to take more courses in the future, but your fees are too low. I learned more in three days than I have in my first six years of canyoneering with friends. The course is worth at least twice what you are charging. Kudos."

May 28, 2015

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