Olympic National Park Field Trip | 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.

Areas of Study

Our unique educational opportunities highlight the rich natural wonders of Olympic National Park. We create an educational environment that engages students in active learning and complements classroom studies. Teachers determine the focus of their students’ experience by choosing one of these areas of study.

There are five areas of study to choose from:


Life Science & Ecology

Forest Ecology: Students gain an understanding of the components and intricate interconnections of forest ecosystems.


Marine Science: Students learn how their actions affect the world's oceans, no matter their distance from it, and how in turn the ocean affects all of us.


Watershed Studies

Watershed Science: Students learn about the structure and function of aquatic systems, and the role of water in terrestrial systems.

Earth Science & Geology

Students engage their scientific inquiry skills and discover why this region (and their home community) has developed over geologic time to have its unique character.

Current Environmental Issues

Elwha River Restoration

Students participate in monitoring an impressive river ecosystem from the removal of the two Elwha River dams. The watershed restoration project is one of the largest in human history.


On-Campus Adventures

These activities take place on the NatureBridge campus and are schedulable at no additional cost, although availability may be limited based on group size and weather.

  • 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 on Lake Crescent: There are three large Salish-style canoes that can each accommodate an entire learning group. These canoes make excellent on-the-water classrooms and provide opportunities for group challenges.


Off-Campus Adventures

School groups that have booked a five-day environmental science program can choose one (1) day-long, off-campus adventure as part of their program.  Additional off-campus adventures can be scheduled for an additional cost.

  • Hurricane Ridge: (70 minutes each way from 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 formations, sub-alpine forest ecology, and see an entire watershed from above.
  • Tongue Point/Salt Creek: (35 minutes each way from campus) When the moon works in our favor, Tongue Point offers outstanding tide pooling options for our students.
  • Feiro Marine Life Center: (35 minutes each way from campus) The Feiro Marine Life Center host public exhibits representative of the marine life inhabiting the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
  • Dungeness Spit: (60 minutes each way from campus) At 4.5 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: (120 minutes each way from campus) While it is a long haul to the Hoh Rain Forest, the area is fascinating. The biomass per square acre in the dense rain forests of the Olympics is the highest density of life anywhere on Earth.
  • Neah Bay and Cape Flattery: (120 minutes each way from campus) This destination is another long trip, but gives students an excellent experience in understanding the native cultural history of the Pacific Northwest. A trip to Neah Bay includes a visit to the Makah Cultural Museum and Cape Flattery, which is the northwest-most point in the continental Unites States.
  • Sol Duc Valley: (45 minutes each way from campus) The Sol Duc Valley offers students the experience of witnessing the powerful Sol Duc waterfalls, watching local salmon spawn (when in season), hunting for diverse mushrooms (in the late fall), or doing an intense hike up to mountainous lakes (6 miles round trip).
  • Elwha Valley: (45 minutes each way from campus) The Elwha Valley is home to one of the largest dam removal projects in United States history. This removal has created large changes to the river system. Groups involved in the Elwha Science Education Project will visit numerous sites in the valley, including: Krause Bottom/Goblin's Gate; both removed dam sites; the state fish hatchery; and the river mouth.
  • Washington Coast: (60-120 minutes each way from campus) There are a variety of coastal shores that can be accessed. Some allow for immediate access to the beach and maximize time on the coast. Others included longer hikes that take students through the coastal forest and provide great learning opportunities, such as forest succession. Based on the specific beach visited, curriculum can include wetlands, bogs, as well as general marine ecology.


Evening Programs

One evening program is provided for every night of your NatureBridge program.

Educator-led Programs

  • Welcome to the Olympics: An interactive activity in which students explore their sense of plance and connect to Olympic Nationa Park.
  • Town Hall Meeting: Discussions about local, relevant environmental issues such as the Elwha Fish Hatchery, Makah whaling, land-use discussions, or species reintroduction.
  • Night Hikes (available September 15 - April 1): Students explore their nighttime environments, with topics such as nocturnal adaptations, astronomy, and bravery.
  • Stayin' Alive (available April 15 - August 31): Taking the role of herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores, students learn about food webs and predator-prey relationships.
  • Form Line Drawing: Students spend an evening learing 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, then use dichotomous keys to identify rock samples based on their characteristics and properties. This activity is 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 learning 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 its' changes over the past 100 years. Overview of the Elwha River watershed and the historic double dam removal.
  • Crepuscular Crawl: Each learning group will venture around Barnes Point exploring and discussing the crepuscular hour. Topics includes the daily transfer from diurnal to nocturnal cycles, animal adaptations, crepuscular vocabulary, and curiosity.
  • Closing Ceremonies/Campfire: Songs, stories, and reflections around a campfire.


Guest Presenters

  • 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. Best suited for high school students, these topics could include bears, fish, owls, marine environments, or climate change.



Or inquire via phone:
Eva Foster


A Proud Partner of the National Park Service