Development of the ACA's training and certification programs began in 1999. Since then, they have been continually refined to insure we always present the most current skills and techniques, while adhering to the highest standards. The cornerstones of the programs include training, mentoring, experience and practice, assessment and certification.

Training for Canyoneers of All Skill Levels

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.

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Canyon Leader Certification

The ACA's Canyon Leader certification is intended as a recreational designation for those who facilitate canyoneering programs in group settings such as Boy Scouts, universities, camps, schools, clubs, and our own canyoneering meetup group. The mission of the Canyon Leader 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.

The ACA currently offers these 3 certification levels for recreational Leaders:

  • Aspirant
  • Canyon Leader I (Competent Assistant)
  • Canyon Leader II

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Pro Canyon Guide Certification

ACA-PROThe ACA is the only organization in America to offer a comprehensive certification program for professional canyon guides. Certification from the ACA involves rigorous training and assessment with two key factors in mind: (1) Becoming the best canyon guide possible, and (2) Delivering the greatest reward for your clients. Success in the program indicates that an individual has been assessed to the standard of an internationally recognized, professional body.

Professional Canyon Guide certification is offered in four levels:

  • Single Site Pro Canyon Guide
  • Assistant Pro Canyon Guide
  • Lead Pro Canyon Guide
  • Master Canyon Guide

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What people are saying …

"I am really impressed with not only the skills and techniques but the fact that you put together such a great course. You did a great job and I learned a lot."

May 28, 2015

"The class was awesome! Rich is an amazing instructor. He’s patient, his instructions are clear and he makes sure everyone understands before moving on to the next step. I learned so much in this course. If I only remember half, I’ll still be way ahead. I highly recommend this course to anyone.”

May 28, 2015

"I learned more ropework in 6 days with Rich than I learned in 25 years of climbing. Thank you for introducing me to the world of canyoneering." --Tom Jones

May 28, 2015

"Not only is Rich an expert but he's a great teacher as well. He's patient and explains procedures and techniques clearly. I appreciate that he is willing to do these classes for the community. I've been able to attend several of his Meet-ups, but also his 3 day canyon leader course with the Boy Scout group from Salt Lake. He provides a great resource to the community. Thanks, Rich!"

May 28, 2015

"Rich did a great job (as usual). He knows how to cater to a large, diverse group and make everyone feel welcome."

May 28, 2015

"I have been a rock climber for over a decade and didn't really expect to learn anything new. Was I ever wrong. I didn't realize that there were so many specialized systems employed in canyoneering. All of it makes sense. Rock climbing systems are fine for dry rock, but not at all appropriate in a canyon - especially if there is water present."

May 28, 2015

"Every canyoneering guide in the U.S. - and the overwhelming majority of recreational canyoneers - have learned from or have learned from someone who learned from Rich Carlson."

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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