TruAdventure Travel Program Heads to National Parks

Innovative ideas often emerge from the things we enjoy doing most. For Jennifer Hurst, professor of health and exercise science, that idea emerged from her love of America’s national parks. This summer, Hurst will translate that love of parks into TruAdventure, a travel education program sponsored by the Truman Institute.

“I really enjoy the outdoors, but there’s something extra special about our national parks,” said Hurst, who has been on the faculty at Truman for six years. “Many people do not realize that America was the first nation to create the concept of a ‘national park.’ We have set aside these special places of beauty and recreation not just for some, but for all.”

On campus, Hurst’s passion for national parks has translated into courses and student excursions at Yellowstone, the Grant Tetons and the parks surrounding Moab, Utah – Arches and Canyonlands. In early 2011, Hurst approached Kevin Minch, Truman Institute director, about the idea of translating a popular student trip she co-lead with colleagues in the Health and Exercise Sciences Department, into an exciting program for adult learners.

“It seemed like a wonderful idea,” Minch said. “What we liked most about it was that it had an appeal beyond students and alumni. It was something we thought anyone interested in wilderness and activity could get excited about.”

The June 9-16, 2012, adventure begins when participants converge on Denver, Colo., for a Saturday night stay and Sunday morning departure by motor coach to Moab, Utah, where they spend two days and three nights visiting the sites surrounding Arches and Canyonlands national parks. On Wednesday, participants arrive in the Cortez, Colo., area where they explore the Anasazi Heritage Center, the Lowry Pueblo Ruins, and the Howenweep National Monument. Thursday, the tour continues to the Ute Mountain Tribal Park before transitioning to Salida, Colo. Friday morning adventurers arrive in Buena Vista, Colo., for a refreshing whitewater rafting adventure on the Arkansas River. The journey concludes in Denver. Unlike traditional tours, however, the buses only get participants to the parks, the rest is on foot.

“This is an active vacation, which will involve hiking to learn and experience these parks and ruins in a hands-on fashion,” Hurst said. “This trip is about more than just seeing great vistas and historic sites. It’s also about well-being, activity, learning and greater self-awareness.”

The trip will be of added interest to those who love geology and history. Arches National Park, known for its more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, represents one of the most intriguing examples of the forces of nature at work on a landscape. Canyonlands, whose name only partially conveys its character, is home to impressive buttes, deep canyons and bizarre needle-like formations. At Anasazi Heritage Center, Howenweep National Monument and Ute Mountain Tribal Park, visitors step into the distant past and explore the dwellings of Puebloan culture much as they were hundreds of years ago.

For those who like a refreshing dip in the water, the trip is capped-off with an exhilarating whitewater ride down the Arkansas River.

“We like to think of this as a vacation that’s ‘a little off the beaten path,’” Minch said. “Our hope is that Dr. Hurst’s work will blaze a trail for future educational travel programs through the University.”

Participation in the program is limited to those aged 21 and over. All overnight accommodations are in local hotels. Daytime meals are provided. The package cost of the program is $1,500, double-occupancy, for those registering before March 1, 2012. Single-occupancy rates are available. For more information, participants can visit the program website at and select the TruAdventure link, or call 785.5406 to request a brochure.