Our Classroom

Mountain School is surrounded by 7,000,000 acres of protected public lands in Washington and British Columbia. In the middle lies 684,000-acre North Cascades National Park—our neighborhood. With 93 percent of its area designated as Wilderness, the Park is known for its steep mountains, ever-flowing streams and tremendous biological diversity. The Park contains more than 300 glaciers and countless snowfields, making the North Cascades one of the most rugged, heavily glaciated areas in the United States outside Alaska. The North Cascades are a national treasure and living laboratory awaiting discovery.

The Environmental Learning Center is located in North Cascades National Park in the heart of the North Cascades mountain range. Located on the shores of Diablo Lake, the Learning Center consists of numerous trails and three trailside-learning shelters. The 16-building facility includes classrooms, library, dining hall and lodges. Mountain School participants stay in three dormitory-style lodges, which sleep a total of 92 participants. Each room sleeps four individuals with two shared bathrooms in each lodge. Our Foodshed program offers appealing, wholesome food choices that are local, organic and sustainably produced. Weather at this site varies greatly depending on the season, so we ask participants to be prepared for all conditions. Travel time to the Learning Center from Burlington is approximately one hour and thirty minutes and three hours from Seattle.


Mountain School Videos

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 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

North Cascades on Instagram


Field Guide to North Cascades Institute