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 …

"The class was fun and loaded with so much useful information. Thanks Rich and Judy for providing a warm and relaxed environment to learn and practice the ART of canyoneering I also found it to be another opportunity to meet great people and network to get out and have fun!"

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

"Rich has a passion for teaching simplicity, efficiency, and most of all, safety while traversing through the beauty of our Colorado Plateau slot canyons. His humility and humor offset his directness in dealing with misconceptions and outright dangerous methodologies."

August 18, 2015

"Excellent course. Well thought out. I felt I learned a great deal and had a lot of fun doing it."

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

"Awesome group Rich, cant wait to learn more from you once I get down perfect everything you taught us. It was an amazingly well digested canyoneering course that makes you want to go back for more."

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

"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

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