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 …

"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

"I just wanted to let you know what a fabulous time I had in the Level I course that finished last week. I learned an incredible amount of information and had such fun doing it. Dave Black has an infectious, tangible passion for the canyons. Being in his class was a priviledge. Rarely have I met such a capable man. I felt completely secure and comfortable in his presence. He's the kind of guy you believe could cook you dinner, fix a radio and build a quonset hut from a couple of carabiners and some webbing. No doubt he has forgotten more about canyons and climbing than I will ever know. It is such a gratifying discovery to realize how much you don't know about something. I have a long way to go, but I am genuinely looking forward to more canyoneering. Thanks very much for a great course."

May 28, 2015

"Great course! I learned a lot, and look forward to putting it all into action. Rich was particularly great with doing clean and easy to follow demonstrations, and answering tangential questions."

May 28, 2015

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

May 28, 2015

"I learned more in 2 days of class from Rich than I have learned in the last 5 years of canyoneering. His style of teaching makes seemingly complicated ideas extremely simple. My confidence level in my abilities has greatly increased as a result. I will surely be taking future courses from Rich."

May 28, 2015

"What a learning experience Rich knows how to get the right info across, great style, actually gets you to answer your own questions and concerns, excellent hands on, and field experience, would highly recommend the workshop to anyone that wants to get into canyoneering, great value. Thanks again Rich”

May 28, 2015

"This is the place to be... Rich shares his expertise and passion for the sport like no one else. Patient with everyone from beginner to experienced and yes, sometimes the experienced ones require the most patience! Although Rich is headquartered in Utah, he frequently comes back to CA for a workshop... do NOT miss it!"

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

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