North Cascades Institute

Connecting People, Nature and Community through Education since 1986

North Cascades Institute inspires and empowers environmental stewardship for all through transformative educational 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

    Mountain School

    Residential environmental education for public, private and home school classrooms led by Institute naturalists and North Cascades National Park park rangers

  • Mountain School

    Youth Leadership Adventures

    Empowering the next generation of conservation leaders through field-based environmental education, leadership training and service projects 

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    Family Getaways

    Multi-generational educational gatherings for families of all kinds

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    Learning Center Programs & Field Excursions

    Explore the natural and cultural history of the North Cascades Bioregion through science, art, literature and hands-on experiences

  • Mountain School

    Graduate M.Ed. Residency

    Professional Environmental Education residency program in partnership with Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University

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    Skagit Tours

    Diablo Lake Boat Tours, Skagit Power Tours and Newhalem Walking Tours explore the natural and cultural history of the Upper Skagit River

  • Mountain School

    Conferences & Retreats

    Welcoming and engaging diverse audiences and organizations through accessible educational experiences, conferences, trainings, events and retreats

  • Base Camp

    Base Camp

    Overnight stays at the Environmental Learning Center featuring guided outdoor learning adventures, comfortable accommodations and delicious, organic meals 

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    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

In 2005, North Cascades Institute opened the 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.