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.

More Information

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

More Information

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

More Information

What people are saying …

"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

“Learning canyoneering from Rich is like learning religion from the Pope." --Briget Eastep, Southern Utah University

May 28, 2015

"In all my years of guiding I've learned to use many varied anchor systems. In just one day of the course I learned three new and efficient ones specially adapted to canyoneering."

May 28, 2015

"Rich Carlson could be considered the father of American canyoneering because of his influence on style, technique, and ethics. In 1999 Carlson established the American Canyoneering Association to promote safety, responsibility, and ethics in American canyoneering. Rich and the ACA have been critical factors in building national standards that have become the cornerstone of canyoneering at the recreational and professional levels throughout the Americas." --Dave Black

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

"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

"Thanks Rich for a fun packed two days of great canyoneering training. New methods, new tricks, new tool, the Totem."

May 28, 2015

"The technical info and application of methods was outstanding. Rich and Stefan provided some great approaches to common canyoneering problems. If Rich had not told me that it was the first [ACA] course, I would not have known. Everything went very smoothly."

May 28, 2015

Read More Testimonials