National Outdoor Leadership School - NOLS

Fast Facts

  • School Size


  • Cost of Attendance

    $5,000—$10,000 Session

  • Affiliation


  • Type of School


  • Student Body Gender


  • Religious Affiliation

    No Affiliation

  • Scholarships for International Students


  • Conditional Admission Available


  • Top Programs

    Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Health and Wellness, Sports

  • Setting


  • Type of Housing


  • Social Media

NOLS is a nonprofit global wilderness school that will help you step forward boldly as a leader. Founded in 1965, NOLS started as an outdoors skills school, doing work in local mountain ranges and exploring what it meant to teach leadership in the backcountry. Today, we are well-renowned experts in outdoor education, leadership training, risk management and wilderness medicine teaching thousands of students each year all over the world. Through a hands-on, learn-by-doing approach, we teach expedition skills necessary to live and travel in the wilderness while providing experiential leadership experience. 

Our courses range from 2 weeks to 135 days long and teach a wide variety of wilderness skills including rock climbing, backpacking, kayaking, mountaineering, sailing, and more. During a NOLS course, students will spend their time in remote wilderness areas with 15 other students and three instructors. They will learn to navigate, select campsites, set up shelter, pack and maintain gear, cook in the backcountry, manage nutrition, dress appropriately for weather, and prevent, asses and treat injury and illness in the outdoors. NOLS graduates are competent and responsible wilderness travelers long after their course is over. 

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. With NOLS, navigating a glacier in the Rocky Mountains becomes a lesson in communication, canoeing down rapids in the Adirondacks shows you how to work as a team, and climbing through canyons in Utah reveals a strength you didn't know you had. 

Graduates leave with the confidence to face adversity and implement plans effectively. They have proven leadership experience in real-life wilderness situations, and can be found leading in every walk of life. from mountain guides to CEOs. Some notable NOLS grads include Mark Randolph, co-founder of Netflix, Jimmy Chin, well-renowned mountaineer, photographer, and filmaker, Maggie Rogers, american singer and songwriter, and Anderson Cooper, host of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 as well as TV personality, jounalist, and author.

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. 

NOLS Courses for different Ages:

  • Adventure Courses: take place during two-three weeks in the summer for ages 14 and 15. 
  • Classic Courses: 30 days long for ages 16 and up. 
  • Semester and Year Courses: Three or six months long to teach multiple wilderness skills for students ages 17 and up. 
  • Prime Courses: Two weeks long for adults ages 23 and up.

NOLS locations around the world:

There are nine campus locations in the US, including our original location in Lander, Wyoming. NOLS also maintains campuses at seven international locations. Honoring the distinct ecosystems of each location and recruiting highly skills instructos from each region, NOLS provided an unparalleled learning experience. 

NOLS U.S. Locations:

  • Alaska
  • Northeast
  • River Base: Vermal, UT
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Southwest
  • Teton Valley
  • Three Peaks Ranch: Boulder, WY
  • Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

NOLS International Locations:

  • East Africa - Tanzania
  • India
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Patagonia
  • Scandinavia
  • Yukon

NOLS Wilderness Skills 

  • Backpacking
  • Canoeing
  • Canyoneering
  • Caving
  • Cultural
  • Horsepacking
  • Lightweight Backpacking
  • Mountaineering
  • Rafting
  • Rock Climbing
  • Sailing
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Service
  • Skiing Snowboarding
  • Whitewater Kayaking
  • Wilderness Medicine

NOLS Wilderness Medicine

As well as our expedition courses, we also teach wilderness medicine across the USA and at some international locations. NOLS instructs people with all different levels of outdoor experience, so whether you want to learn the basics for weekend outdoor adventures or are interested in leading outdoor trips yourself, NOLS has wilderness medicine courses to meet your needs. 

  • Wilderness First Aid (WFA) - A two day course meant for someone who goes on weekend camping trips or day hikes where you are relatively close to medical help the entire time. 
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR) - A ten day course for someone who recreates in remote wilderness areas far from medical help. 
  • Wilderness EMT - 30 day course for someone interested in pursuing a career in Emergency Medical Services or emergency response. 


Association for Experiential Education (AEE)

American Gap Association (AGA)

National Association for Independent Schools (NAIS)



National Outdoor Leadership School - NOLS

502 Lincoln Street
Lander WY 82520
P: 800 -710 -6657

5805 N. Farm Loop
Palmer AK 99645
P: 800 -710 -6657

730 State Route 86
P.O. Box 411
Gabriels NY 12939
P: 800 -710 -6657

20950 Bulson Road
Mount Vernon WA 98274
P: 800 -710 -6657

3101 E. 2500 S. Vernal
Vernal UT 84078
P: 800 -710 -6657

2751 North Soldier Trail
Tuscon AZ 85749
P: 800 -710 -6657

1690 East 2000 South
South Driggs ID 83422
P: 800 -710 -6657

534 Highway 353
Boulder WY 82923
P: 800 -710 -6657

222 Red Canyon Road
Lander WY 82520
P: 307 -332 -0116

P.O. Box 20449
Whitehorse YT Y1A 7A2
P: 800 -710 -6657
For more information: National Outdoor Leadership School - NOLS