The ACA Sovereign Canyoneer is a recreational program intended for individuals who do not wish to enter the Canyon Leader or Pro Guide track, but instead wish to become self sufficient canyoners in their own right. This program is intended for the individual(s) who wants to gain more knowledge and improve their technical skills while becoming a safer canyoneer.

The mission of the Sovereign Canyoneer Program is to improve individual canyoneering safety thereby lifting the sum of the whole. Goals of the program include: (1) Provide training for beginner and intermediate canyoneers, and (2) Provide necessary technical skills and canyon rescue training for the attainment of a Sovereign Canyoneer.

Our Sovereign Canyoneer Program consists of two levels:

    • Core Canyoneer
    • Sovereign Canyoneer


Core Canyoneer

A Core Canyoneer is an individual who has trained on and mastered all of the skills from the ACA's Core Skills Checklists.

These are the basic skills required to descend a canyon with competent leaders.

Note: Core Canyoneers are not Canyon Leaders or Guides and should never act as such.

Core Canyoneer -- Step by Step

1. Download, review, and practice the Core Skills Checklist.

2. Attend the Core Canyoneer Training course.

3. Descend canyons with competent leadership.

4. Don't for get to have fun doing it! - canyoneering is all about seeing beautiful places while doing it safely.

The Core Canyoneer course is a very popular course that helps students develop the skills to be competent as an active participant, when canyoneering. Capable to understand and manage personal safety, to make basic
assessments (weather, time, etc) and assist with some group responsibilities. This course provides students with the basic concepts and critical knowledge to begin seeing these stunning places with confidence and presence while gaining valuable experience.

Sovereign Canyoneer

A Sovereign Canyoneer is an individual who has shown proficiency in the items on the Core & Sovereign Skills Checklists.

These are the necessary skills and knowledge required to be a self sufficient canyoneer.

Note: Sovereign Canyoneers are not ACA Canyon Leaders or Guides and should never represent themselves as such.

Sovereign Canyoneer -- Step by Step

1. Download, review, and practice the Core and Sovereign Skills Checklists.

2. Attend the Sovereign Canyoneer Training course.

3. Descend canyons with competent partners.

4. Don't for get to have fun doing it! - canyoneering is all about seeing beautiful places while doing it safely.

The Sovereign Canyoneer course is tailored for the person seeking to be an informed canyoneering teammate. A “partner” in the assessment of challenges and provider of direct input into the processes of finding solutions. Using a hybrid of Skills from the Aspirant and Assistant Leader skills checklists, we have created a course that will increase canyon awareness, expand on workable solutions and provide options to solving some of the more exceptional challenges.

What people are saying …

"I wanted to thank you again for the course on technical canyoneering last weekend. It truly was a great course and I am very glad I took it. I learned so much that I think I went into information-overload. So I tried to focus on the main principles you reinforced in the scenarios more than anything else: repetition, repetition, repetition. I guess I am writing because I am so grateful. I have been on the ACA website these last few days and I have noticed how much effort you put into the site, promoting the sport and the proper techniques. Thanks, it has opened up a whole new world for me.”

May 28, 2015

"I took one of the classes AZ Rock and Canyon offered and can not say enough about it! Tom and Jeremiah went over everything and why we do things the way we do so you have a better understanding of everything. After their class and small rappels, we met up the next day to do a canyon and put into practice what we learned with three trained people helping us along the way. I give them 10 stars out of 5! Take their classes, you will not be disappointed. I have also told several people about their gear and they love it!" - Brandon Guard

March 17, 2021

"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

"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."

June 16, 2019

"Your devotion to the sport and your concern for your students was very apparent during the course. The entire canyoneering community is in your debt for the fine work you are doing."

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

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

June 18, 2019

"My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the course and now have a new rule for choosing canyoneering partners - ACA course graduates only. You guys are the real deal and you are raising the bar for all canyoneers.”

May 23, 2015