While at Mountain School, students spend the majority of their time outside, hiking on trails and exploring mountain ecosystems first-hand through interdisciplinary activities. Experiential, hands-on activities in science, math, art, social studies and conservation fill days to the brim. Program activities extend through the evening. Mountain School curriculum is aligned with the Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements, Grade Level Expectations and the Measurements of Student Progress and High School Proficiency Exams.

There are two Mountain School programs available as either a three or five day option:

4th to 6th Grade: "Ecosystem Explorations"

7th to 12th Grade: "Field Science & Leadership"

A three-day experience is our standard program. Five-day programs can be developed based on your school’s interests and needs. Longer programs allow additional time for exploration and study such as digging deeper into explorations and studies, taking longer hikes and including more team building and reflective activities. Canoeing on Diablo Lake (weather permitting) is also an option for schools.


Pre- and Post-Trips:
An important piece of the Mountain School experience are the connections students make between their lessons learned in the North Cascades and their communities back home. These connections are fostered through pre- and post-trip classroom visits from Mountain School instructors. Some school groups may be able to participate in our post-trip Mountain School Stewards program where the class will join in conservation projects near their schools. Projects include eradicating invasive species, planting native plants, trail restoration and other activities to help conserve and restore neighborhood natural areas.

Mountain School Resources

Mountain School stories from our Chattermarks blog

Mountain School blog (older)

From field study to evening programs, this Mountain School program schedule program schedule shows a typical Mountain School schedule

Mountain School Video (6:08)

MM-MS-thumb.jpgLearn more about Mountain School with this fun video by Omar Garcia and Michelle Tamez. 6:08Watch Video


MM-MSTV-thumb.jpgProduced by KCTS 9 Seattle for the "North Cascades: People, Places and Stories", this episode examines Mountain School. 4:54 | Watch Video

Mountain School: A 7-million-acre campus for kids

DIABLO LAKE — To truly learn about the great outdoors, one has get out into it and experience the sights, sounds and smells. Touch the bark, feel the moss, hear the birds, feel the breeze.

Children who attend Mountain School can do just that.

The school is a 7 million-acre campus with the North Cascades Institute’s Environmental Learning Center serving as its lecture hall. “

We are very fortunate to be able to offer this program,” said Institute’s program coordinator Chris Kiser. “It’s an opportunity for students to make friends and learn about themselves as well as the outdoors. They learn all about producers, consumers and the ecosystem.”

Mountain School packs a lot into three days. The focus is on science, and the natural and cultural history of the North Cascades.

— Skagit Valley Herald, 10/24/14

Field Guide to North Cascades Institute