Pacific Northwest Backpacking

Pacific Northwest Backpacking


  • Early season courses travel north-central Washington's Pasayten Wilderness; later season courses visit the old growth and temperate forests of Olympic National Park
  • Hike approximately 120 miles both on and off trail
  • Small group size, limited to 10 students with two to three instructors
  • Develop your backcountry cooking and map reading skills
The Pacific Northwest is a richly diverse wilderness classroom, ranging from jagged, glacier-carved mountains and valleys to evergreen forests and stands of lodgepole pine. This popular backpacking course has two options for exploring this region.

Early season students travel in the Pasayten Wilderness in north-central Washington, while late season students backpack through Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula. The Pasayten boasts almost 150 peaks over 7,500 feet in elevation. Rugged ridges in the west flatten into expansive plateaus toward the east, with deep drainages on both sides.

On courses later in the summer when snow melts from the high country, we attempt a traverse of Olympic National Park viewing the areas rugged glacier-capped mountains and wide alpine meadows.

Like the first Western explorers, you'll see stands of moss-covered old growth and temperate rain forest. You'll experience some demanding off-trail hiking as you visit pristine and rarely seen parts of the park.


Location NOLS Pacific Northwest
Tuition $4,465 Learn about Financial Aid
Equipment Deposit $350
Minimum Age 16
Duration 31 Days
Type Classic
Start/End Conway, Washington
Fly in/out Seattle, Washington
College Credit
  • 6 Credit Hours
  • 2 Hours Environmental Studies
  • 2 Hours Leadership Techniques
  • 2 Hours Skills Practicum
Learn about College Credit
High School Credit
  • 1.5 Carnegie Units
  • 0.5 CUs Physical Education
  • 1 CU Leadership
Learn about High School Credit

“It was really great to be confident in so many skills (both hard and soft) by the end of the course that I had very little confidence, if any, in the beginning. Also simply living in the wilderness for 30 days and hiking each day while having fun is extremely rewarding.”

-Sadie O.

Pacific Northwest Backpacking Grad