• Education

Connecting to our mountain environment

Programs for school field trips, families, and anyone looking to broaden their knowledge of the Salt Lake Valley’s precious water source

Our education programs run year-round and on snowshoes, skis, snowboards and foot. Led by our volunteers, staff and interns, we discuss almost anything of interest: watershed ecology, constellations, owls, hummingbirds, tracking wildlife in the snow, wildflowers, tiger salmanders, public lands, moose, owls, pikas, bees, subnivean layers and more!

Programs are always beginner-friendly, no matter if you have never worn a pair of snowshoes or have spent extensive time in the mountains. Our aim is to explore and celebrate the amazing natural environment of our watershed that is right in your backyard!

For all of our programs, we would recommend that you dress appropriately for the weather wear appropriate footwear (warm boots for the winter, sturdy walking shoes for the summer) and always (well, except maybe during our night programs) bring sunscreen and some water.

And perhaps, if you enjoy these programs, you may one day choose to volunteer and help lead them!

Tour with a Ranger Program

Join Volunteer Naturalist Rangers on the ski slopes at Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude to learn about Cottonwood Canyon’s geology, history, winter ecology, watershed, wildlife, and more! Tour topics rotate monthly.

Free, guided, naturalist-led tour, down an easy or intermediate ski run. Tours last ~ 45 minutes. Lift ticket or pass at ski area required. No registration required!

Meeting places:

Saturdays and Sundays

  • Brighton 1:00 PM, meet at base of Snake Creek Chair Lift
  • Snowbird 1:00 PM, meet at Mid-Gad Restaurant, outside near trail map sign.
  • Solitude 1:00 PM, Top of Moonbeam Chair Lift.
  • Alta 1:00 PM, meet at top of Sunnyside Chair Lift.

Rangers are also on the mountain throughout the day, roving, to answer questions–come see us and say hello!

Full Moon Snowshoe Tours

Join us for a naturalist-led snowshoe tour under the full winter moon! Look for animal tracks and learn about the wildlife that left them, all while surrounded by some of Utah’s most beautiful mountains. Naturalist guides talk about everything from animal adaptations and trees to the history and geology of Big Cottonwood Canyon! Tours Cost $10 per person. Register Here for your tour!

Spruces Campground: Located 9.7 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon, on the right hand side of State Highway 190.

Friday, January 10th, 2020 from 6 to 7:30 PM

Sunday, February 9th, 2020 from 6 to 7:30 PM

Monday, March 9th, 2020 from 7 to 8:30 PM

Registration Required. Weather Conditions Permitting. Participants must bring their own snowshoes, snow boots, and winter gear.

Alta Snowshoe Tours

Cottonwood Canyons Foundation is proud to partner with Alta to offer $10 per person, guided snowshoe tours through Alta’s famous powder! Look for animal tracks and learn about the wildlife that left them. Naturalist guides talk about everything from animal adaptations and trees to the history of Little Cottonwood Canyon and Alta! Register Here for your tour!

Tours meet and depart outside the east end of the Albion Day Lodge.

Saturday, January 25th, 2020 from 12 to 1:30 PM

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020 from 12 to 1:30 PM

Saturday, March 28th, 2020 from 12 to 1:30 PM

Alta Earth Day Saturday, April 18th, 2020 from 12 to 1:30 PM

Weather Conditions Permitting. Participants must bring their own snowshoes, snow boots, and winter gear. Snowshoe rentals are available at the Alta Ski Shop and Alta Sports.

School Field Trips

A powerful learning experience out of the classroom, these field trips are designed for 4th and 5th grade students. We have tailored the content of these field trips to reinforce what the students are learning in the classroom. Over the past ten years, we have led nearly 17,000 students on these learning expeditions in their mountain backyard.

Led by both experienced staff and our fantastic volunteers, these programs seek to connect participants with the basic science of their watershed and the natural history of the Wasatch Mountains. After all, it’s hard to not want to take care of the source of your drinking water after you have a connection with it!

While on our summer and fall field trips at the Silver Lake Nature Center, we engage students in a series of hands-and-minds-on activities that explore their connection to their drinking water and watersheds. Hands on activities include macroinvertebrate sampling, a build-a-bug activity and an exploratory walk around the beautiful Silver Lake boardwalk.

During the wintertime, field trips take place on snowshoes at Spruces Campground! The snowshoes for the field trips are free of charge, generously provided by REI, who allows us free rental for the field trips. We’re grateful for their support and partnership of this program. We also have a bus scholarship program, where schools in need can apply for support in covering transportation expenses. This year’s bus scholarships were generously funded by the Big Cottonwood Marathon and its runners! We’re also grateful for Salt Lake City Watershed and the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest staff for their help in leading these amazing field trips.

All education programs have an emphasis on safety, stewardship, and learning.

Summer Community Events in the Cottonwoods

Photo credit: Candy Friedli

The following events are free and open to the public. No registration required.

Wasatch Wildflower Festival: Brighton Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort, Alta Ski Area, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. Free naturalist-guided wildflower walks. Walks and hikes for all levels, kids’ walks with activities built-in, chairlift rides, music, kids art, and more! Dates To Be Determined

Kids Days at Alta Ski Area and Silver Lake Visitor’s Center: A day to bring the family out for hands-on activities related to our watershed. Identify scat and tracks, get up close and personal with birds of prey, play with a miniature watershed model, and go on a wildflower scavenger hunt! Keep an eye out for our 2018 dates!

Ongoing Family and Visitor Nature Programs at Silver Lake
Begins in June and run through August.
Check back for details!