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 makes the magic of the wilderness real for kids

"The concept behind Mountain School, run by nonprofit North Cascades Institute, sounds simple: In a three-day mountain camp experience, imbue in school children a visceral connection with this special place — the thumping, mountainous heart of Northwest wilderness. Make its magic real to them at a micro level, in the hope that some of them will feel the pull to return as powerfully as a salmon headed home to spawn. Slip into their consciousness rudimentary skills of a naturalist — the ability to observe and make the same personal connections to other wild lands.

This is how it’s done at Mountain School. Has been, in fact, for 25 years as a program that sprouted in leaky Army surplus tents at Newhalem Campground matures into a national model for wilderness education on public lands."

— The Seattle Times, August 2015

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

Field Guide to North Cascades Institute