Seeing the Landscape Through Words

A four-day terrestrial exploration of Southwestern Colorado’s high desert, centered on witnessing and writing

hosted by Craig Childs

26 APRIL – 1 MAY, 2023  |  COLORADO

The Desert Eye

This course is currently full - if you would like to be added to the waitlist, please reach out to us at [email protected]



Craig Childs writes about cultural history, science, climate, nature, and the visceral experience of living on Earth. With more than a dozen published books, his subjects range from water in deserts to pre-Columbian migrations across the Southwest. His narrative nonfiction and journalism have appeared in The Atlantic, Men’s Journal, The Sun, The New York Times, NPRRadiolab, and he is a contributing editor at Adventure Journal. He’s won the Orion Book Award, the Colorado Book Award, the Galen Rowell Art of Adventure Award, and three times he has won the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award. Born in Arizona, Craig now lives in the high desert between Telluride, Colorado and the Utah border.




Join us down a long dirt road in the middle of nowhere to soak up the desert and render experiences to paper. This four-day course is for anyone who writes, journals, or scribbles. Your subject may be New York City and this long weekend will be for you. What we learn together will be focused on one place in the high desert of Southwest Colorado, while the techniques apply anywhere. Your instructor, Craig Childs, will lead you through prompts, discussions, and writing sessions focused on ways of witnessing, as well as the craft of putting it into words.

While we will have comforts, you will be sleeping on the ground and walking through complex terrain, probably no more than a few miles a day, but a few rugged miles with plenty of stopping and seeing. There will be wind. It will be cold. It will be hot. You will certainly not go hungry and there will be coffee.


Professionals, hobbyists, and curious people of all backgrounds will find this workshop compelling. Writers of all genres and skill levels are welcome. This field course is offered for undergrad or graduate credit through the University of Montana’s Department of Environmental Studies. It is open to non-students and students alike.


Space on this adventure is limited to 10 participants.

A non-refundable 15% deposit will be required to save your space.

The Desert Eye is eligible for scholarships through The Freeflow Foundation.

Your program cost includes:

  • 4 days and 5 nights with Freeflow faculty and your instructor, Craig Childs, who will lead discussions, workshops, and generative writing sessions
  • daily walks of one to three miles with your daypack in uneven terrain sounded by red sandstone canyons along the Dolores River
  • delicious, healthful meals and snacks on the field course (plus wine and plenty of caffeine from Black Coffee Roasting Co.)
  • all permitting, parking, and access fees
  • professional outdoor leadership in the field

The course also serves as an introduction to the Freeflow galaxy of writers, leaders, and thinkers. Additionally, our alumni receive discounts on future Freeflow courses.

Participants must bring their own camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad). If you need access to these items, we will help you find them.

We will close registration once the roster is full. Please apply early.

All deposits and payments are non-refundable. Payment plans are available. Payments can be made by mailing in an old-fashioned check, or by credit card or bank transfer via the link in your electronic invoice.

Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.


Late afternoon / evening on April 26, you'll meet us in Grand Junction, CO for a shared ride to our basecamp near the Dolores River. Alternatively, you can meet us at basecamp with your own vehicle (though we will work to limit the number of vehicles at our camp). Between the morning of April 27 and the afternoon of April 30, we'll take short hikes, returning to basecamp each evening. Plan on walking - at your own pace - over uneven terrain for 1-3 miles a day, carrying a small amount of weight.
On the afternoon of April 30 we'll depart basecamp and head to Gateway, CO for Decompression (our final evening together, where we let it all sink in). Breakfast on May 1 will be ready early, and from Gateway you'll either drive off into the sunrise or hop in the Freeflow rig for the quick drive back to our vehicles in Grand Junction. 


Make space for your creative work, movement, and new ideas this spring. Send us your questions and we’ll get in touch right away. If you know you’re ready to apply, head to the button at the top of this page. 

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