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NOLS - The leader in wilderness education since 1965

Discover the truth about wearing cotton in the outdoors, see what Carolyn Highland has to say about the lasting impacts of her semester course, & learn about one grad’s first night sleeping under the stars.

When You Should Wear Cotton in the Outdoors

NOLS student on horseback wearing cotton during her horsepacking course

Photo by Nicholette Hilbrich

Some experienced campers’ favorite advice is “You should never wear cotton.” Despite cotton’s negative reputation among some backpackers, the reality is that there are times when you actually should wear cotton in the outdoors (and it won’t kill you).

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Pay It Forward: How My NOLS Semester Helped Me Lead My Own Backcountry Trips

Three NOLS students backpacking in the distance on a ridge

Photo by Carolyn Highland

“When I left the Kiwi backcountry, it could have stopped there. I could have written it off as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I could have left it on the South Island or kept it to myself...but it felt impossible to let the knowledge and the experience stop there. The logical next phase would be to pass it on to others, as it had been passed on to me.”

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Watch: Star Struck

Thumbnail of NOLS Tales from the Trail "Star Struck" with animated waterfall and stars

On her first night in the wilderness, Fatou Doumbia was unnerved by a level of quiet and darkness she’d never experienced at home in the city. Then she peeked out of her tent and noticed the stars: “I’d only seen them in the movies and it was just so beautiful. It made me realize I really need to explore the world.”

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Fall Semester in the Rockies with WFR

NOLS students navigate canoes through a rapidPhoto by Will Stubblefield

Rock climbing, whitewater paddling, horsepacking, canyoneering, and winter camping: you’ll do it all on your semester in the Rockies. As you dive into learning new outdoor and leadership skills, you’ll also earn a Wilderness First Responder certification.

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Earn a Fall Semester Scholarship

NOLS instructor and two students consult a map together in the Pacific NorthwestPhoto by Benjamin Lester

Interested in spending your fall semester outside a traditional classroom setting? Check out our semester programs and find out if you're eligible for a scholarship.

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North Cascades Mountaineering - Prime

NOLS students mountaineering atop a snowy ridge at sunrise in Squamish, British ColumbiaPhoto by John Sink

Head to the Pacific Northwest to learn the fundamentals of mountaineering with a group of adult peers. Complement your new technical skills with real-world leadership experience.

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Himalaya Mountaineering

NOLS students mountaineering on a snowy slope in the HimalayaPhoto by Madhu Chikkaraju

Learn to lead on challenging terrain while exploring a new culture and landscape in the Indian Himalaya. Develop the skills you need to travel on ice, rock, and snow on this high-altitude mountaineering course and return home a seasoned international traveler.

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