Credit: Ben Fox


NOLS is a nonprofit global wilderness school that seeks to help you step forward boldly as a leader.

We believe that anyone can be a leader; it’s our role to provide the environment and training to help you discover your full potential. We do that in classrooms close to home and in remote wilderness areas around the world.

We’re an organization with heart, expertise, and wildness, and these qualities help us support powerful, authentic experiences.

Our Mission and Values

Our mission is to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment. Our community—staff, students, trustees, and alumni—shares a commitment to wilderness, education, leadership, safety, community, and excellence.

State of the School

We educated a record number of students, produced great student outcomes, had strong risk management outcomes, invested in our staff and systems, and made progress on our strategic plan ... Read Our Annual Reports



We’re a group of passionate people committed to empowering you to step forward boldly as a leader.

Credit: Eric Page

Our History

The Leader Since 1965

Founded in the rugged mountains of Wyoming in 1965, we’ve explored and expanded over time to serve and educate students around the globe in leadership, wilderness skills, and risk management.

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We’re working to make our organization, and the outdoors as a whole, a welcoming and inclusive place. Learn more about ongoing diversity and inclusion work at NOLS.

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Two students have fun setting up a tent in the snow while mountaineering on Denali in Alaska.



We aim to keep our wilderness classrooms wild and accessible. We strive to have our backcountry ethic reflected in our frontcountry sustainability practices.

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Our Curriculum

A NOLS course is your opportunity to have a transformative experience, one that fundamentally changes you and the way you view your role in the world. We craft curriculum on all NOLS courses to support you being able to:

  • Assume leadership roles
  • Live and travel in the outdoors
  • Act with confidence and competence
  • Respect and collaborate with others on 
expeditions, on teams and in communities
  • Care for yourself and others
  • Understand your strengths, habits, and areas for growth
  • Function under difficult circumstances,
  • Make informed and thoughtful decisions
  • Communicate effectively
  • Connect with natural places

  • Appreciate living simply

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Go to a NOLS event in your area to connect with alumni, learn more about the school, and share memories. All are welcome!

Credit: Kirk Rasmussen

Risk Management at NOLS

Risk is an important element of learning on many NOLS courses. Read more about how NOLS manages risk.