“Come West, breathe deep, let these hills be your teachers.” - Sherman Day Thacher

Determination, self-reliance, grit—we’ve seen firsthand that these qualities go a long way in setting up our students to lead happy, successful lives at Thacher and far beyond. We think there’s no better place to learn these skills than while pitching a tent at 10,000 feet or navigating with a topo map as you plot your route through the Sespe Wilderness.

List of 3 items.

  • Philosophy

    This connection to nature and commitment to exploration has been part of our identity since our founding, when Mr. Thacher invited students to prepare for Eastern colleges with his unique mix of “out of door life and study.” The formula has endured because it works, punctuating a demanding academic term with opportunities for reflection, fresh challenges, and prolonged periods in nature. Group travel in the backcountry offers an unrivaled laboratory for young people as they learn how to lead and how to follow, how to care for themselves and how to care for others.
  • Trips

    It’s why the day after our freshmen arrive on campus, we send them to Santa Cruz Island for a week of orientation with their prefects and dorm leaders. And it’s why every fall and spring—and during many weekend trips in between—students and faculty pack up and take to backcountry trails for Extra-Day Trips up and down California and beyond. And with the Los Padres National Forest at our back door and other wilderness areas close by, instruction in outdoor sports like rock climbing, winter camping, and sea and river kayaking are there for the taking.
  • Facilities

    To support our backpacking and horse camping programs, Thacher maintains two base camps; Patton’s Cabin in the Sespe Wilderness and the Golden Trout Wilderness School in the southern Sierra Nevada. In addition to providing educational wilderness experiences to Thacher students, the Golden Trout Wilderness School offers programs serving a wide range of students from diverse communities throughout California, some experiencing the wilderness for the first time.

Outdoor Facilities Tour


“At Thacher, the requirements involving horses and the outdoors are not peripheral, they are central. The real growth at Thacher—and in life—comes from putting yourself in environments where you are not completely comfortable.”

San Francisco, California

Notice of nondiscriminatory policy as to students: The Thacher School admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other School-administered programs.