WinGate Wilderness Therapy Reviews, Cost, Complaints

WinGate Wilderness Therapy


[block]0[/block]WinGate Wilderness Therapy Review

Founded in 2008, WinGate Wilderness Therapy is a leader in wilderness-based treatment, offering adolescents and young adults a unique and immersive therapeutic experience to combat alcohol and substance abuse issues, as well as behavioral issues. The Utah-based office is located three hours out of Las Vegas in the town of Kanab. However, the program’s center is found well outside of these walls, in the surrounds of the spectacular Utah landscape. The only wilderness program authorized to operate in the western region of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, WinGate offers clients jaw-dropping, remote environments in which to experience its professional, alliance-based treatment program.

Accommodations and Food

While it is not residential treatment in the traditional sense, WinGate clients do take up residence in Utah’s breathtaking expanse. The rooms are makeshift tents under the stars and the kitchen is a camp stove. There is a simplicity here that can give way to clarity, and each client’s accountability for their own campsite and meal is part of communicating the importance of trust and responsibility.

There is no five-star dining here, but that doesn’t mean close attention isn’t paid to the menu. Meals are limited by the ever-changing setting, but are also integrated into a carefully designed diet plan, planned by a nutritionist, that focuses on healthy eating. Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as staples such as rice and beans, go hand-in-hand with a variety of easy-to-carry proteins, conducive to trailblazing.

Treatment and Staff

The program offers its clients an immersive eight to 12-week experience. During this time, Wingate’s qualified therapists and wilderness first respondents guide groups of adolescents (ages 13-17) or young adults (ages 18-26) through an established route that demonstrates the beauty, diversity and tranquility of the landscape.

Far from the more typical 12-step or CBT-based treatment programs, WinGate’s therapeutic approach follows a unique, comprehensive and active daily schedule based on introspection, as well as interaction with the environment and group members. After waking up, each client takes part in personal circles, a time to allow for contemplation, meditation or prayer in their morning routine. Clients establish daily goals then have recovery meetings before a well-earned breakfast and the day’s scheduled hike—weather permitting.

Groups travel a manageable three to five miles per day, five days a week, with two days set aside for rest and the rotation of staff. Each evening, clients set up a personal campsite and prepare their dinner, as well as engage in personal mentoring time. This time allows clients to complete therapy assignments and read, and is also when counselors check-in with each client individually. Clients also engage in—and even sometimes conduct—group therapy discussions that focus on building self-awareness.

WinGate does not offer a detox program or issue prescriptions, however it does specialize in dual diagnosis support for those with co-occurring disorders, and provides psychiatric medication management. While some wilderness-based treatment programs may rely on behavior modification techniques such as level systems or group punishments, WinGate strives to create an alliance between their clients and the team through training, care and respect that yields long-term change. With one staff member to every three clients, this alliance can be easily forged, and at the end of each client’s stay, a transition ceremony marks the occasion.


WinGate also recognizes the importance of family involvement, offering family workshops, mid-stay visits, phone-call-based therapy sessions and weekly letters between the family and client. These help provide some peace of mind as well as an up-to-date understanding of what the client is experiencing.

The team at WinGate does offer an academic arm to their wilderness therapy that allows clients the opportunity to receive six half-credits towards high school requirements, from Outdoor Education to Language Arts. This service is provided for an additional fee of $250.

In Summary

WinGate Wilderness Therapy is a premier provider of wilderness-based treatment. For young people and their families who are faced with serious issues concerning alcohol or substance abuse, this program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Though the time commitment may be on the steeper side for some, the services offered not only match the investment, but also seem to go above and beyond.

WinGate Wilderness Location

WinGate Wilderness Therapy
PO Box 347
Kanab UT 84741

WinGate Wilderness Cost

WinGate Wilderness Therapy: Cost: $15,750 (30 days) or $525 per day and a $2,700 enrollment fee with the first 56 days required to be paid up frontReach WinGate Wilderness Therapy by phone at (800) 560-1599 or by email at [email protected]. Find WinGate Wilderness Therapy on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+

Do you have a complaint or review of WinGate Wilderness Therapy to add? Use the comments area below to add your WinGate Wilderness Therapy review.

Photo courtesy of Bureau of Land Management [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)



  1. concerned previous student on

    BEFORE CONSIDERING THIS PROGRAM PLEASE READ So so so many misconceptions about this company. First, you do not sleep under “tent”, you are given a tarp and paracord and you are taught to make this into what they called “shelters”, which were tied off trees. On many occasions my shelter had actually come undone during storms and my sleeping bag was completely soaked. Eventually these tarps get worn out and most of my group’s tarps had holes. I know for a fact adolescents are forced to sleep in sleep line, basically all students sleeping in a row next to one another, and the staff tarps up their boots so they cannot run away at night. Adult groups switch off the sleep line week by week from boys to girls. Another lie is that we have “camp stoves” which is laughable. As long as there is no fire ban (these happen in the summertime when the BLM decides it is too dry out to have a fire) groups both adolescent and adult must bust a fire (using various wood pieces to make a kit that can create a coal) and if every student is unable to bust you have to go without a fire. Staff would hardly explain how to make a fire kit, and even if you have been busting for hours (keep in mind this is a very physically tiring thing to do even for a few minutes) the staff will not help you get a fire started. The only time WinGate permits their staff to start a fire is if it is so cold outside that there is a medical need for it to avoid hypothermia or frostbite. I once went three days without a fire, and I had hardly any dry food to eat through that stretch of time. It is true that a nutritionist calculates the amount of calories you need to eat within a week and makes up the food drops as we called them. You get two a week, one on Sundays and the other every Wednesday, but you did not get a food drop if you did not hike that day. This brings up one of the many problems I found with this program when I was a student. Being 18, I was placed in the adult group which was the only adult group the program had at that time. Though it wasn’t as much of an issue for my group, we had heard of struggles with the adolescent groups hike striking. This is when one or multiple people refuse to hike. This means you will have no water or food until you hike to your next coordinates, so basically they punish the entire group for one kid’s refusal. In my group, this only happened because a student was severely injured and was in too much pain to hike. This brings up another absolutely abusive part of this program: Often times when you get hurt in the field, it is completely ignored for WEEKS. They will not take kids or adults out of the field unless it is an absolute emergency. If you sprain your ankle, you are forced to hike on it until your out date. I had an infection that was completely swept under the rug until it got so bad that I needed to see the local doctor who told me I had a fungal infection. What I assume the causation was had been the inability to shower. That’s right, your stuck in the desert for at least 8 weeks without a single shower. “A manageable 3 to 5 mile hike” is absolute bullshit. I did hikes well over 10 to 12 miles, which is extremely difficult to do with all of the things you need to survive in a huge pack on your back. We got a new intake (new student) come into the group who passed out while we were hiking down a mountain. When things like this happen, you are often forced to crash camp. This means you have to stop hiking and camp for the night where you are without any water. This also happens if you have a student that refuses to continue the hike, or if the sun sets and it is too dark to hike. This means that the following day you continue yesterday’s hike until arrival upon the site for the night previous, but you still must do the next hike planned for that day as well. Some days, the office would not send the cords to the staff until late in the day, which means we would have to wait all day before being able to start the hike. We were usually told our hikes were 4.7 or 6.3 but this is “as the crow flies”. This does not take into account terrain, lava rock fields, amount of snow on the ground, sand (which is everywhere and very hard to hike in) and mountains. Weather permitting hikes is a total lie, I hiked though hail storms and downpours. The only days no hiking takes place is Mondays and Tuesdays, and even then staff often like to do day hikes, which are easier because you don’t have a pack. Getting phone calls is a straight LIE. You are not able to talk to your parents besides one letter a week that you send out with your therapist who reads everything you compose. There were times where my parents’ letters were not given to me and vice versa, as well as getting emails that were not supposed to be for me which caused additional turmoil. My therapist from home sent me a card and they refused to bring it out. But honestly, my biggest issue with this program is the lack of time spent with therapists. You only see your therapist once a week for an hour, that’s it. Personally, this was not enough and there were many times I requested to speak with my therapist and it just does not happen. They claim that everything that you do is therapeutic, but in all honesty if your not hiking its a lot of sitting around thinking about civilization and how you hate living outside, its so much harder than you may think. I had staff who asked about my sexual assault, and when I opened up about it she turned around and told me triggering stories about her personal abuse and treated me as her therapist for her entire shift (2 weeks). Melanie made the entire experience about herself, and would refuse to tell us the distance of hikes, never let us know the time of day, and did not give us access to her knife which was needed often for making food. The absolute worst individual I came into contact with during my stay. “War storying” which is considered storytelling about drinking or smoking or doing drugs of any kind was off limits, yet she openly talked about using heroine!!! She later kept us from talking about weed which is just laughable. I had another staff try to convince me to join the morman church. This company is so desperate for staff they will hire just about anyone with a high school degree. 8-12 weeks is often a lie as well, many kids that I knew stayed for 13, even 15 weeks.

    Overall this experience made me a much more angry individual, and completely worsened my depression. I am currently looking for serious psychiatric help as of right now. This experience will not ‘fix’ your children. This program is filled with spoiled rich brats, addicts, and disturbed individuals. I was scared of the girl I had to sleep next to every night. I would not wish this place on my worst enemy. I have never felt so trapped and angry and sad in my life.

    • and dont blame your kids if they never want to speak to you again if you send them here, i have seen it happen many times and my parents realize they are lucky that I have moved on from what they put me through

  2. Sad part is maybe these teens needed this kind of treatments because they don’t appreciate what they have at home, they are ungrateful or think they are entitled to everything. Perhaps going through this type of treatment is designed to help a child realize things could be worst. I’m sure everyone of these kids thought they would not be going into a situation like this and it probably broke the parent’s heart to send them here, because as a parent you think you can fix it, but you can’t. Sometimes kids have to experience it for themselves to realize how good they really have it.

  3. 4 Years later, now at the age of 20 I can first hand vouch that this review has many untrue comments. To start, the hikes were on average about 10 miles, sometimes lasting from 8 in the morning to midnight if the terrain was rough. Expanding on the terrain, there were times when we had to throw our (almost 20 pound backpacks) down ravines/ canyons, and then slowly slide down right after. There were multiple times when people would get extremely injured. As for a “hot meal”, students are required to bust their fires, for those of you who don’t know what busting is, a little bit of internet research can clarify that for you. “weather permitted hikes” is completely not true. There were times I was hiking in mud up to my ankles, or in hail that made my arms and face start to bleed. If when we finally reached the end of the campsite the trees were all wet from the rain, well…. we would not be getting a fire, because you cant make a fire with wet wood. There are absolutely no phone calls to parents unless in extreme emergency, you are allowed to contact your parents through a single letter per week, and then near the end of your stay there ( which you never actually know when the end of your stay is because they purposefully keep it a secret from you) the parents come see you for one night. Overall, do more research than what you see on the surface. I am disgusted by rehabreviews review.

  4. Lexi Gustafson on

    I love how she said an untrue comment when even I can vouch for the abuse this company did. I was also there when the boy fell 30 feet and broke his back. The website CLEARLY states that kids in the program will be hiking 3-5 miles a day when we actually hiked an average of 15. For real people that is unbelievably brutal, especially when you have to hike it or you don’t get fed. I remember hiking for hours upon hours with no food and when we got to the campsites the staff wouldn’t even let us cook our food to eat it. I was forced to eat raw potatoes and even lemons because of how hungry I was and practically that was all I had in my food bag. The website “claims” that they provide food that is nutritional, but looking back we got powdered cheese and powdered milk in our bags to cook with? There was actually a time where a staff member left his aderall prescription in reach of my group and a bunch of girls were stealing over half his prescription for weeks, and when we would get the same staff member again every few staff changes the same thing would occur. When they finally found out a month later no parents were notified of it and none of the letters to parents from the kids about it got delivered. This place simply wants parents to think they are going to take care and help their children, but in my experience I was treated like a dog. If I could find where the campsites actually are I would go back there and try and rescue all of the kids in the camps to save them from the abuse that this company does. It is honestly terrible to think people are okay with treating teenagers like this. I was 16 when I was enrolled. I am now 18 in college and wingate did not help me in my troubled teen years, it only hurt me and my family. After I left the program I moved out of my parents house and we didn’t speak for years. I recently realized it was not their fault they fell for this stupid little camps lies. Save your money and your time and send your kid to actual therapy, where a nice genuine person can help them instead of abusing them and treating them like they are animals.

  5. fuck wingate on

    As a former student, please do not send your child here. While wilderness therapy is sometimes necessary, torture isn’t. I can recall multiple times where i went up to a week without food because the food was dropped of 50+ miles away from our camp and we were told “hike to eat”. There is a difference between tough love and needless struggle. When a student got violent and stole a staff’s knife and charged people with it, he was not kicked out. It took two more times of the same thing happening and students being able to tell their parents in person, because the letters we were writing to tell our parents somehow never seemed to reach them, before he was kicked out. I know of one student who broke his back from falling 30 feet on a hike and we were told he just tweaked his back and would be fine in two weeks.

    • It’s hard to believe that would allow such an inappropriate and patently untrue comment to be posted and remain on their website. Hundreds of families have been served by WinGate and many positive reviews can be found on Facebook and on WinGate’s website. For nearly a decade, WinGate has been a positive and even miraculous influence in the lives of individuals and families from across the entire world.

    • As a Parent and as a Caregiver I actually do believe what you are saying. I have worked in this field for over 20yrs. I started working with troubled teens for 11 months before the company was shut down by the state for abuse due to staff members beating and taking down the teens because they wouldn’t listen and do as the staff demanded. Another teen got taken down and got his side of his eye cut where he hit the corner of his dresser. I also worked with the mentally and physically disable and sadly they also got their mistreatment from their caregivers. I also worked 2 years with the elderly and they also were exploited and mistreated by their caregivers, people who are supposed to be caring for them.
      I was looking for a program for my rebellious teen daughter but after reading your review. I will keep her at home and like an old fashion mom. I will deal with her, just how my mom dealt with me.
      Thank you so much for your input.

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