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 …

"It's unbelievable how much we have learned in one week. Great teaching and patience displayed by all instructors. Great body of knowledge taught. Good hands-on experience. Good pace and sequence of topics."

July 14, 2019

"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

"Bruce has such a passion for what he does, he is so encouraging, has such fun stories and can be serious when doing things that required that."

January 13, 2022

"I just wanted to let you know I had a great time at the canyoneering course. Thank you guys for being so flexible with the group and for making sure we were all being taught material that suited our experience and interests. I hope to be able to attend one of the advanced courses in the next year."

August 28, 2019

"It was immediately obvious that your instructors are not just canyoneers, turned guides, turned instructors. The course structure and quality of instruction was as good or better than any college course I have ever taken. Very professional."

May 28, 2015

"Just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that I really enjoyed your course. Thanks for your patience. You are a great teacher. I have found in the past that just because one has the knowledge on something, doesn't mean they have the ability to convey that information to others in a way they can retain it. You actually have the gift. I know I retained more that I thought I would. It was a pleasure spending those three days under your guidance."

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

"The cumulative structure of the course was right on. We had three opportunities to learn each technique - classroom (camp), controlled situation (bridge), then actual application in the canyons."

September 20, 2019