Ecosystem Explorations


A strong focus on science and the natural and cultural history of the North Cascades provides the academic foundation of this Mountain School program. Days are spent hiking on trails that surround the Learning Center. Hands-on educational activities along the trail introduce students to mountain ecosystems and provide an up-close look at diverse ecological communities in the North Cascades. Topics of study include: wildlife of the North Cascades, biodiversity, food webs, glaciers and geology, watersheds, cultural history, ethnobotany and forest ecology. Students will bond as a group as they work, learn, reflect and play games together in a wilderness classroom.

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