Get Outside and Explore North Cascades National Park

Visit_GR_BigCanoe The Learning Center is located in the heart of North Cascades National Park and we’re always excited to help people explore, learn about and appreciate this unique region. During your stay, our experienced staff naturalists serve as teaching guides, providing informal natural history education that adds depth and meaning to your retreat experience.

You can choose to learn more about the North Cascades during your stay by gathering for stories around a campfire, exploring our local trails, paddling on Diablo Lake or taking a guided hike in North Cascades National Park.

  • Just outside your door, a series of local hiking trails link to a larger network of adjacent National Park Service trails, perfect for a short walk or a launching point to a longer expedition. Popular trips include a one-mile hike to spectacular views of a waterfall along Sourdough Creek and longer afternoon hikes along the Diablo Lake Trail to Ross Dam. We also offer shuttle service to trailheads and in the area and naturalist guides if your group is interested in a deeper exploration of the North Cascades.

  • We  offer canoe outings on Diablo Lake where you can explore inlets, islands and Thunder Arm by boat. Our staff can lead canoe trips in our tandem canoes or in our custom Salish-style 18-person canoe. There is also a nearby Seattle City Light walk-on ferry access to Ross Lake.

  • To unwind after a day of meetings, or to celebrate your special occasion, we encourage guests to gather in our amphitheater or outdoor shelters for a campfire beneath the stars. Campfires are a powerful way to help guests connect, bond and reflect about their stay at the Learning Center.


"When I was looking for a location for a family reunion, NCI offered both the setting and the staff for a successful gathering. Among the many highlights of that weekend was the chance to paddle the traditional Salish Dancer and French Voyageur canoes. Diablo Lake with the Colonial Peaks in the background was the ideal location for paddling, drumming and testing the echo quality of the gorge. What a setting to share family times." — Ron Shrigley

Available 2016 Dates
March 4-6, 11-13, 18-20, 25-27

April 1-3, 6-8, 15-17, 22-24, 29-May 1st

May 6-8, 13-15

June 10-16, 15-17, 19-23

July 3-7, 18-21

August 7-12, 21-26

September 4-9

October 7-9, 28-30

November 4-6, 18-20

Please contact or (206) 526-2565 to learn more about these dates. Other dates become available through the year, so don't hesitate to ask!


Upcoming Conferences & Retreats

November 8-11
Wilderness First Responder Recertification
For details and registration:

December 7-11
Remote Medical International: Remote Medicine for the Advanced Provider (RMAP) Course
For details and registration:

Calvin Laatch, Conference & Retreat Coordinator


In 2014, we hosted 27 groups, ten yoga retreats, eight Remote Medical International courses, three conferences and four beautiful weddings at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center!

Proceeds from your stay support our youth education programs, helping us provide local students opportunities to experience the outdoors at little to no cost.

Please email Calvin at or call (206) 526-2565 with any questions!