Special Events

UPDATE 8/20: Anniversary Picnic Cancelled

We regretfully have decided to cancel our Anniversary Celebration Picnic and all related activities at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center on Saturday and Sunday, August 22-23.

The Goodell Creek wildfire burning near Newhalem unexpectedly grew yesterday, State Route 20 was closed down and the decision was made to evacuate the Learning Center as a precaution. The Learning Center isn’t in imminent danger and all of our staff, graduate students and guests were able to leave the area safely. With this said, there are many uncertainties that we are actively monitoring and conditions in the upper Skagit Valley are uncomfortably smokey.

We also feel it is not appropriate to host a celebration at this time as we are deeply saddened by the loss of life of three firefighters in Twisp yesterday, and by the injuries sustained by four others. We send our condolences to all of the family and friends of those impacted by these traumatic wildfires.

Our focus at North Cascades Institute is making sure that our displaced staff and graduate students are taken care of and to provide any assistance we can to our partners in the National Park Service, Seattle City Light and US Forest Service.

We still hope to celebrate the milestones of the Learning Center’s 10th anniversary and Mountain School’s 25th anniversary and we will keep you posted as plans progress.

~ North Cascades Institute staff and board

North Cascades Environmental Learning Center Anniversary Picnic

August 23, 2015 / 10 am - 3 pm / Free!

Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park


North Cascades Institute, Seattle City Light and the National Park Service invite you to a free picnic and open house celebrating the 10th anniversary of the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center and the 25th anniversary of Mountain School!

Join us for a BBQ picnic with local farms, Diablo Lake Boat Tours, campus sustainability tours, canoe voyages, naturalist hikes, family-friendly activities and live music by Jumbled Pie and New Wilderness Project featuring Benjie Howard!

The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, field campus of the North Cascades Institute, is a hub of discovery for all ages built around the idea that learning together in community inspires stewardship. The green-built campus hugs the shore of Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park, one of the wildest, heaviest glaciated, and most biologically diverse areas in North America. In 2015, the Environmental Learning Center — named a “Top Ten Great Getaways” by ParentMap — celebrates its 10th anniversary!

This year also marks our 25th consecutive year of offering our influential residential environmental education program Mountain School in cooperation with North Cascades National Park! Twenty-five years and 26,000 students later, the core values of Mountain School are the same: get children out of the classroom to explore their wild backyard and connect with this special part of the world that we all call home. Look back at 25 years of Mountain School memories at ncascades.org/signup/youth/mountain-school/25, and send in your own recollections to . 

No RSVP required * Space is limited: arrive early to sign up for activities

How to get there: The Learning Center is nestled on the shores of Diablo Lake, just three hours from Seattle or two from Bellingham/Winthrop, surrounded by the pristine wilderness of North Cascades National Park. Directions at ncascades.org/directions-and-visitor-info.

Shuttles: From Concrete: Park at Silo Park for 9 am shuttle, arrive back at your car around 4 pm. UPDATE: Due to fire activity, the Newhalem shuttle has been cancelled. We will be offering off-site parking at the Diablo Lake Overlook and shuttles to the ELC on the hour, 10 am - 2 pm. 

Big thanks to our sponsors AMS Print & Mail, Cascadia Weekly, Collins Office Supply, National Environmental Education Foundation, Percolator Consulting and Skagit State Bank and to our our Foodshed Sponsors: Breadfarm, 5B’s, Acme Ice Cream, Highland Farm West, Blue Heron Farm, Smallwood Farms and Plowhorse Farm.

Check out the brand-new video from New Wilderness Project!