High Desert Center

Gap year programs in Colorado for young adults seeking adventure, leadership skills, community, and a sense of purpose.

The Location

The program begins and ends in Paonia, a picturesque small town tucked between the mountains and the desert in a valley full of organic farms, grapes, orchards, ranches, coal mines and diverse, community-minded people.  Wilderness areas and the Black Canyon National Park are close by. For more see Paonia.com

IMG_0172We stay at Dev’s place, on 80 acres of co-owned Pinon Juniper land two miles above town.  The land is part of a local community of people all living off the grid, in an assortment of earthships, straw bales and cob houses.  A huge dance hall with spectacular views of the Ragged mountains is just above the meadow.  Most people get their water from rain collection, their electricity from the sun, and their eggs from local chicken flocks.

Getting to Paonia using public transportation is a bit of a challenge.  The closest airports are Montrose (an hour’s drive from Paonia) and Grand Junction (an hour and a half).  Aspen is also an option and is two hours away.  Finally Denver is about 5 hours drive away and Salt Lake City is about six.  Greyhound buses and the train both come to Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs (both an hour and a half away) from either Denver or Salt Lake.  The last leg of the journey, from the town you arrive in to Paonia, requires either arranging a ride with us, hitchhiking or renting a car.


Mailing address is:

Your name

c/o Dev Carey

38620 Pitkin Rd.

Paonia, CO 81428

Phone: (970) 361-1233