Olympic National Park School Programs | Outdoor Education

School & Group Environmental Science at Olympic

In North America’s best remaining example of temperate rainforest, students study along the Elwha River, increase their scientific literacy, and learn to understand their roles as environmental stewards.

Your NatureBridge Program

Ready to plan your trip?  We’ve put together the resources you need to streamline the planning process.  Please look over the contents below.  If you need additional information, please call or e-mail as directed in the sections below.

Reusing history

Our campus, the site of the historic Rosemary Inn, is a perfect example of adaptive reuse. The simple technology and small platforms of the past helped advise and create the LEED certifications of green buildings today. Built by craftsmen at the turn of the 20th Century, this renovated lodge includes the dining room, cedar room meeting space, microscope laboratory, cozy library, and skins and skulls laboratory. Rosemary Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Historic District within Olympic National Park.

The environmental lessons reduce and reuse come to life as we share stories about the cultural, natural, and environmental history of our campus, Olympic National Park, and the Olympic Peninsula. View a photo gallery to see how we reuse history on campus.

Food service

Our kid-friendly wholesome meals are made from scratch by our friendly and talented food services staff. We buy locally and organically when possible using simple ingredients that can be purchased at any supermarket and re-created inexpensively at home.  


Our campus has a variety of accommodations. Groups will be placed as needed to accommodate the needs of multiple schools.  

Standard Cabins 
Our standard dorm-style cabins sleep 24-36 participants. Each cabin includes a central common space with four or six private rooms. Each room sleeps up to six guests.  Several dorm-style cabins have internal showers and bathrooms. Smaller cabins have close access to showers and bathroom facilities in the adjacent bathhouse. View photos of our standard cabins.

Historic Cabins 
When available, groups may also use our renovated historic cabins, which have an attached bathroom and sleep between four and seven individuals. View photos of our historic cabins.

Safety and weather adaptations

Our education staff is well-trained and experienced in providing quality education in the wide variety of weather conditions in the Pacific Northwest. We know safety and comfort are vital. Our educators are all wilderness first responders.

To successfully navigate the weather challenges of the Pacific Northwest, our campus has a number of indoor spaces to enhance the educational experience. All of these locations are a stone’s throw away from the old growth forest that surrounds our campus and sit on the shore of beautiful Lake Crescent. View photos of our indoor spaces.

Additionally, we provide hot beverages and have extra warm clothing and rain gear available. 

As a further safety precaution, all of our environmental staff carry a radio monitored by our office with access to weather advisory and Olympic National Park. The ranger station is minutes from our campus, so emergency personnel can arrive swiftly if necessary.

Get the latest data from the weather station located on our dock! 

Working together

Fundraising can be a fun and creative group activity. When students work together to raise funds for an exciting goal, the process becomes a fulfilling endeavor. Many schools provide their students with the opportunity to raise their own tuition or funds for transportation to campus.

Community investment in students and schools increases when local businesses, civic groups, and families have an opportunity to participate and engage in the fundraising process.

Funding Ideas

View our page of fundraising ideas to get your creative juices flowing. If you have a creative idea or a success story you would like to share with other teachers, please send us your idea.


View our page of Grant Opportunities and Writing Tips to get you started.  If you have a success story you would like to share with other teachers, please send us your idea.

NatureBridge Scholarships

NatureBridge is committed to reaching students in all the communities we serve. Thanks to the generosity of donors, NatureBridge offers scholarships to approximately 35 percent of our schools.  Scholarships are awarded based on the free and reduced lunch rate of a school (or private-school equivalent) and/or other supplemental information to support need.

If you believe your school or group may qualify for a scholarship, please fill out and submit a scholarship application form to Sam Drucker or call 206-382-6212 ext 13.

Here are some resources to help plan your trip:  


Logistics & Forms

Do you have questions about any of these forms?  Email Hannah Merrill or call 360-928-3720 ext 15.

Plan Your Educational Experience

Our curriculum is aligned with state and national standards in its use of inquiry methods to engage students in academic studies that connect their learning to real-world science.  Our educators are versed in the evolving Grade Level Expectations, and tailor programs to enrich your classroom work.  In Olympic National Park, we have five areas of study to choose from, or you can mix and match to best meet your requirements.  

Areas of Study

  • Forest Ecology: students gain an understanding of the components and intricate interconnections of forest ecosystems.
  • Watershed Science: students learn about the structure and function of aquatic ecosystems and the role of water in terrestrial systems.
  • Marine Science: students learn how their actions affect the world ocean, no matter their distance from it, and how in turn the ocean affects all of us.
  • Earth Science & Geology: students engage their science process skills and discover why this region (and their home community) has developed over geologic time to have its unique character.
  • Elwha Restoration Project: students participate in monitoring an impressive river ecosystem from the removal of the two Elwha River dams. This watershed restoration project is one of the largest in human history. 

Evening Programs

Guest pres​enters

  • Elaine Grinnell - S’Klallam Tales:  A member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Elaine delights both the young and old with great stories.  Elaine uses traditional baskets and drums to let us into the lives of a S’Klallam tribal member.
  • John Cornish - Geology Rocks:  John covers the rock cycle and geology of the Olympic Peninsula, and knows how to wow your students with his amazing rock, fossil, and crystal collection.  Every rock becomes a treasure after this evening program.  
  • Environmental Science Researchers: NatureBridge partners with several government and non-government agencies in and around Olympic National Park. With enough advance notice we may be able to set up a program with a researcher. Best suited for high school students, these topics could include bears, fish, owls, marine environments, or climate change.    

Educator-led evening programs

  • Welcome to the Olympics: An interactive activity during which students explore their sense of place and connect to Olympic National Park.
  • Town Meeting: Discussions about a local, relevant environmental issue, such as the Elwha Fish Hatchery, Makah whaling, land-use decisions, or species reintroduction.
  • Night Hikes: (available September 15 – April 1): Students explore the nighttime. Topics may include nocturnal adaptations, astronomy, and bravery.
  • Stayin’ Alive: (available April 15 – August 31): Taking the roles of herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores, students learn about food webs and predator-prey relationships.
  • Form Line Drawing: Students spend an evening learning about the history of Northwest Coastal Native Americans and studying the technique of Form Line Drawing and then sharpen their pencils to create their own masterpieces.
  • Plenty-o-fish: An active program that helps students think critically from multiple angles of resource management and bio-monitoring. Students take on the roles of fishers and/or scientists that monitor the fish stock.
  • Marine Mammals:Students learn about adaptations of and threats to various marine mammals.
  • Rock Basics: In this active and hands-on program, students learn components and processes of the rock cycle and use dichotomous keys to identify rock samples based on their properties and characteristics. This activity is most appropriate for 5th-8th graders.
  • NatureBridge Educator Choice: Your NatureBridge Educators have a variety of educational backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Let them choose the evening program and they will use their unique skills to enhance your educational adventure!
  • Team Building: Each trail group will work through a series of physical and mental team challenges designed to improve communication, trust, and teamwork.
  • Extraordinary Elwha: Learn about the wonder of the Elwha and it's changes over the past 100 years.  Overview of the the Elwha River Watershed and the historic double dam removal.
  • Crepuscular Crawl: Each trail group will venture around Barnes Point exploring and discussing the crepuscular hour. Topic may include the daily transfer from diurnal to nocturnal cycles, animal adaptations, crepuscular vocabulary, and curiosity.
  • Closing Ceremonies/Campfire: Songs, stories, and reflections around a campfire.

Off-campus Environmental Studies

With five-day environmental science groups, we usually take a day-long, off-campus field trip to one of the region’s amazing ecosystems.  Field trip sites include:

Hurricane Ridge: (1hour, 10 minutes each way from our campus): The road to Hurricane Ridge climbs up to almost 5,000 feet to the Visitor’s Center, providing amazing vistas into the mountainous interior of the Park. As students hike along the ridge, they can study mountain formation, sub-alpine forest ecology, and see an entire watershed from above.
Tongue Point / Salt Creek: (35 minutes each way from our campus):  When the moon works in our favor, Tongue Point offers outstanding tidepooling options for students.
Feiro Marine Life Center: (35 minutes each way from our campus):  If Tongue Point doesn’t pan out, the Feiro hosts public exhibits representative of the marine life inhabiting the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Dungeness Spit(1 hour each way from our campus):  At 4 ½ miles long, Dungeness Spit is the world’s longest natural sand spit. As students hike a portion of the spit, they learn about the process of spit formation, watch for migrating birds, and look out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca for marine life.
Hoh Rain Forest: (2 hours each way from our campus):  While it’s a long haul out to the Hoh Rain Forest, this area is stunning and fascinating. The biomass per square acre in the dense Rain Forests of the Olympics is the highest density of life anywhere on the Earth with as much as 500 tons per acre.
Neah Bay and Cape Flattery: (2 hours each way from our campus):  This destination is another long trip from campus, but gives students an excellent experience in understanding the native cultural history of the region. A trip to Neah Bay includes a visit to the Makah Cultural Museum and Cape Flattery, the most northwest point in the lower 48 states.
Sol Duc Valley:(45 minutes each way from our campus):  The Sol Duc Valley is relatively close to our campus and offers students the experience of witnessing powerful Sol Duc falls, watching local salmon spawn (in season), hunting for diverse mushrooms (late fall), or doing an intense hike up to mountain lakes (six miles round trip).
Elwha Valley: (45 minutes each way from our campus): The Elwha Valley offers longer hikes with less elevation change in the beautiful forests of Olympic National Park. The valley features abandoned homesteads and intense rapids at locations like Goblin’s Gate. The Elwha Valley is also home to two dams, which are in the process of being removed. This removal will create large changes to the system and will be very interesting to witness and study in the coming years. Groups involved in the Elwha Science Education Project will visit numerous sites in the Elwha Valley. Sites can include: Krause Bottom/Goblin’s Gate, both dam sites, the state fish hatchery, and the river mouth.
Washington Coast (1-2 hours each way from our campus):  There are a variety of coastal shores that we can access from campus. Some such as Rialto allow for immediate access to the beach to maximize time on the coast. Others, such as the Ozette Trail Loop, are longer hikes that take students though the coastal forest and give great opportunities to learn about forest succession. Based on the specific beach we visit, curriculum can include information on wetlands, bogs, as well general marine geology and ecology.

Campus Adventures

  • Storm King hike: A strenuous four-mile round trip hike that provides team building and personal growth opportunities as well as a stunning backdrop for our forest classroom.
  • Canoeing: Lake Crescent is a beautiful place to canoe.  We have two large Salish-style canoes that can each accommodate an entire instruction group. These canoes are incredibly stable, make excellent on-the-water classrooms, and provide opportunities for group challenges.

Teaching Tools

Help prepare your students for their visit.


Next steps: Are you looking for documents to prepare your students and parents for the experience? Download registration forms and more in "Information for Students & Families."

Next steps: Are you participating in the program as a chaperone or a teacher or group leader looking for information to hand out to your chaperones? Visit the ‘Information for Chaperones’ for details.

Thank you for volunteering to be a chaperone!  Your positive attitude and willingness to participate during the instructional day is of great importance to both students and NatureBridge staff.  

Send us your evaluation: We would love your feedback on our program. If you didn’t have time to fill out our evaluation form while you were on campus, please take the time to send it now.

Classroom visit: Please contact Sam Drucker or call 206-382-6212 ext 13 to arrange a post-trip visit.

Professional Development: Did you fall in love with our campus in Olympic National Park? Spend a weekend with other teachers in one of our professional development workshops.

Join us for a family program:  Did your child have a fantastic time? Bring your family back to one of our family programs. Were you a chaperone? Contact Sam Drucker to get your alumni discount.

Plan next year’s trip: Please contact Sam Drucker or call 206-382-6212 ext 13 to reserve time on next year’s calendar.

Or inquire via phone:
Eva Foster


Get a 10% Discount!

Refer a new school and you get a 10% discount off of your next trip to Olympic! Contact Sam Drucker for more details.

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