This open-air student pavilion allows
plenty of space to organize your gear and pack up, as well
as sleep at night in the fresh air–while keeping any
rain away from you or your stuff!
Photo: Mark Langston
Green will be your first thought as you drive into NOLS Pacific
Northwest. Located just off I-5 in the rural farming community
of Conway, Washington, the facility sprawls over 30 acres and
includes a small orchard and five-acre forest filled with towering
evergreen Douglas Firs, Western Red Cedars and hemlocks.
Despite its peaceful remoteness, the property lies just 10 minutes
from Mt. Vernon, where folks call “town,” and where
courses can enjoy central access to the steep, snowy Cascades,
the lush Olympics, the beautiful San Juan Islands, Vancouver
and Seattle. The Mt. Baker / Snoqualmie National Forest also
sits close to this outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.
Since running its first expedition in 1971, NOLS Pacific Northwest
has settled permanently in Conway — and you’ll quickly
see why. This is the first facility designed and built specifically
for NOLS courses. The spacious equipment and rations rooms, the
open-air student pavilion, cozy kitchen and dining hall complete
with rock wall and ping-pong table all lie under one long series
of roofs to best serve expedition planning. Across the lawn,
you can duck into the library to grab a book, meet other instructors
prepping for a course, look at maps or check your e-mail.
When the dinner bell rings, everyone joins together from all
corners of the facility – including the boat barn and shower
building – to gather around the tables in the dining pavilion
and discuss past, present and future adventures. The community
you become part of at NOLS Pacific Northwest feels more like
an extended family, largely due to the Newbury family, who have
been outfitting, feeding, supporting and eating with students
here since 1983.
Whether you’ll be climbing in the Oregon desert, hiking
on the Olympic coast or mountaineering in India, NOLS Pacific
Northwest offers some of the most diverse skills and environments
available at the school, as well as a friendly, laid-back community
who all gather to wave goodbye as your course drives away toward
NOLS Pacific Northwest has grown to include sea kayaking,
canoeing, rock climbing, and keelboat sailing and logistical
support for NOLS
The property hosts a small orchard with apple, pear
and plum trees. If the season’s right, some courses
make fresh cider to take on the road.
Many of the trees around the facility were planted
by NOLS students after their course.
Although the summer season is the most stable weather-wise,
the fall offers some of the best travel of the year,
with amazing colors and fewer encounters with other
Courses can spot gray wolves, grizzlies, black bears,
fishers and wolverines, but most often see black-tailed
deer, elk, Douglas squirrels, marmots and pikas, even
bald eagles and osprey!
On the sea, you may come across dolphins, humpback
whales, harbor seals and cormorants.
NOLS Pacific Northwest will be your
introduction to the lush lands in this area, as well as the perfect
place for you to get ready for your time spent there!
Photo: Brad Christensen