North Cascades

Connecting People, Nature and Community through Education since 1986

Discover_NCI-subnavNorth Cascades Institute inspires and empowers environmental stewardship for all through transformative experiences in nature.

Since 1986, we have helped connect people, nature and community through science, art, literature and the hands-on study of the natural and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest. Our goal is to help people of all ages experience and enjoy the mountains, rivers, forests, people and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest – so all will care for and protect this special place.

North Cascades Institute is committed to innovation and excellence in environmental learning and leadership in the nonprofit community.

We believe:

  • Powerful, place-based learning experiences inspire environmental and community stewardship
  • Hands-on learning about the environment should begin in childhood and continue throughout life
  • Intimate, informed contact with the natural world helps people lead healthy, well-balanced lives
  • Fun is an essential part of learning, engagement and health.

Four key themes run through all our programs:

    • We teach at the convergence of natural and cultural history, science, humanities and the arts
    • We value the importance of public lands for education, recreation and renewal
    • We strive to inspire and support broad participation in informed civic engagement
    • We are committed to quality education, effective community engagement, sound business practices and a clear sense of purpose


    Welcoming learners of all ages to the Pacific Northwest, we offer:

    • Mountain School: Residential environmental education for public, private and home school classrooms led by Institute naturalists and North Cascades National Park park rangers 
    • Youth Leadership Adventures: Empowering the next generation of conservation leaders through field-based environmental education, leadership training and service projects 
    • Family Getaways: Multi-generational educational gatherings for families of all kinds
    • Learning Center Programs & Field Excursion: Explore the natural and cultural history of the North Cascades Bioregion through science, art, literature and hands-on experiences
    • Masters of Education degree: Professional Environmental Education residency program in partnership with Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University
    • Skagit Tours: Diablo Lake Boat Tours, Skagit Power Tours and Newhalem Walking Tours explore the natural and cultural history of the Upper Skagit River
    • Retreats & Conferences: Welcoming and engaging diverse audiences and organizations through accessible educational experiences, conferences, trainings, events and retreats
    • Base Camp: Overnight “learning and lodging” for families and adults
    • Community events: Natural history and humanities presentations in Bellingham, Seattle, the Methow Valley & beyond

    Discover the powerful outcomes of our educational efforts by perusing our program reports


    A Field Guide to North Cascades Institute

    In 2005, North Cascades Institute opened North Cascades Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake in the heart of the North Cascades. A partnership with the National Park Service and the City of Seattle, the Learning Center is surrounded by millions of acres of protected public lands. It is a hub of discovery into one of the wildest, most biologically diverse landscapes in North America. Learners of all ages come to explore and participate in innovative programs that inspire and enrich their lives.