The Eagle Creek fire has closed most trails from Cascade Locks to Troutdale.

Outdoor Youth Education Programs

Explore the Gorge and the Great Gorge Wahoo! highlight wonders of the Gorge

Outdoor Youth Education Programs
Portland middle-schoolers learn about the Gorge at the Great Gorge Wahoo!, one of Friends' two outdoor education programs. (photographer: Nick Wiltgen)
The goal of Friends’ three outdoor youth education programs, Explore the GorgeThe Great Gorge Wahoo!, and Mosier Field Days is to expose local youth to the Columbia Gorge's wonders and significance as a national treasure, as well as tell the story of its preservation through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act. These programs aim to provide powerful memories that will develop and inspire the next generation of Gorge protectors, deepening children's connection to the natural world just outside their doorstep.

Learn more about our programs in 2017: Outdoor Education Roundup: Bringing Students to the Gorge

Explore the Gorge

Explore the Gorge is a multi-day outdoor program for Washougal, WA students. This program strives to nurture the connection that the students already have to the Gorge and build on their sense of place to develop a land stewardship ethic. Over 2,000 middle school students have participated in this program since its beginning in 2008.

Explore the Gorge was established in 2008 by longtime Friends' supporter and Vancouver resident Phyllis Clausen in honor of her late husband. Phyllis has a strong background in Gorge conservation work. When schools started to lose funding for their own outdoor school programs, she saw a local need for environmental education and established the Vic Clausen Youth Education Fund to start the youth program. Explore the Gorge operates in partnership with the Washougal School District and continues to be a valued program today.

View some photos from the 2017 program - 10th Anniversary! 

“I feel so encouraged to know that our program is growing and that in other places, too, people are remembering the values of outdoor programs for kids' long term health and overall development. You are doing something of significant worth.” - Phyllis Clausen, founder of Explore the Gorge

Explore the Gorge in the News

June 21, 2018| Camas-Washougal Post Record: Explore the Gorge
June 15, 2018 | The Columbian: Washougal students talk about environment during Outdoor School 
June 15, 2017 | Camas-Washougal Post Record: Out of Their Desks and Into Nature
June 10, 2014 | Camas-Washougal Post Record: A Connection to Conservation
June 11, 2013 | Camas-Washougal Post Record: A Natural Classroom
June 21, 2011 | Camas-Washougal Post Record: Empowering Observation
2013 | Lewis & Clark Magazine

The Great Gorge Wahoo!

The Great Gorge Wahoo! is an annual one-day field trip for 7th and 8th-grade students at the St Andrew Nativity School. Each year, Friends takes the 7th graders into the eastern Gorge in the fall and the 8th graders into the western Gorge in the spring. 

In 2011, the Winthrop family established the Matthew Winthrop Memorial Fund. In the fall of that year, 20 seventh-graders attended the first Great Gorge Wahoo! Since then, the program has grown and in 2014, a spring field trip was added for the 8th grade class, established by the Buddy Nobles Memorial Fund. 

Mosier Field Days

This two-day program held at Friends’ Mosier Plateau land trust property started in 2016. The program seeks to educate and inspire Mosier Charter School seventh- and eighth-grade students through teachings on biodiversity, emphasizing the importance of stewardship work, and telling the story about the role of our land trust. The program is a collaboration between the Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust and the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute

Get Involved

If you are interested in volunteering at either program, please contact Outdoor Programs Coordinator Kate Lindberg:

Support the Next Generation of Gorge Conservationists

Donate Today

Make a gift to our outdoor youth education programs today to continue and expand these programs for the next generation.

Leave a Legacy

A gift to fund Explore the Gorge or The Great Gorge Wahoo! is a perfect opportunity to honor a loved one who cherished the Columbia Gorge. A designated memorial fund can be established in your loved one’s name and the funds directed to the program of your choice. For information on designating a memorial fund, contact Development Officer Pam Davee at or 971-634-2036.