The mission of the National Outdoor Leadership School is to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment. At NOLS, the wilderness is our classroom. Since its founding in 1965 by mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, NOLS has graduated more than 30,000 students. Each year, more than 2,200 students complete NOLS courses, which are run as 14 to 95-day wilderness expeditions.
The international headquarters of NOLS are in Lander, Wyoming. Branch schools are located in the Rocky Mountains (Wyoming), Alaska, the Pacific Northwest (Washington), the Southwest (Arizona), Kenya, British Columbia, Mexico and Patagonia (Chile). In the U.S., NOLS courses are run in 18 national forests, 21 national parks and on Bureau of Land Management land in seven states for a total of over 100,000 user days a year. Internationally, we operate in 14 national parks and preserves.