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 …

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

June 18, 2019

"Bruce is fantastic at teaching and explaining concepts. I would recommend him to anyone. Bruce was a hoot."

January 13, 2022

"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

"This was a great opportunity for me to get exposure to a myriad of new techniques for use in future canyoneering exploits. The experience and perspective of the instructors added another dimension and contributed greatly to the value of the course."

May 28, 2015

"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

"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

"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

"I am really impressed with not only the skills and techniques but the fact that you put together such a great course. You did a great job and I learned a lot."

July 5, 2018