NOS Mission

Nevada Outdoor School inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.
This is the spot for us to share stories, fun ideas or general musings. When you aren't in here, we hope to see you out there!

Friday, December 15, 2023

Outside Guide: "Snowshoeing Shenanigans: A Hilarious Guide for Beginners in Northern Nevada"

Welcome, aspiring snowshoe enthusiasts, to the wacky world of winter wonderland exploration in Northern Nevada! If you're tired of slipping on icy sidewalks and yearn for an adventure that involves strapping tennis rackets to your feet (metaphorically speaking), then snowshoeing is your ticket to frozen fun. And where better to embark on this frosty frolic than the snow-laden landscapes around Elko, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, and Eureka? Buckle up, or rather, strap in your snowshoes, as we embark on a laughter-packed journey into the heart of snowshoeing madness.

Before you dive headfirst into the frosty fray, it's essential to gear up properly. Forget about the latest fashion trends; in the world of snowshoeing, it's all about function over fashion. Picture this: you, decked out in layers that rival the Michelin Man, with snowshoes that make you look like a human spider trying to moonwalk. It's a look. Trust me.

Start with the basics: warm layers, waterproof boots, and of course, the pièce de résistance - the snowshoes themselves. Size matters here, so don't be shy about getting the most gigantic ones you can find. Embrace the clunkiness; it's your new best friend.

Now that you're suited up and ready to roll, let's talk about the pristine snowshoeing paradises waiting for you in the wide open spaces of Nevada. Elko, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, and Eureka may sound like towns straight out of a spaghetti western, but these places transform into winter wonderlands perfect for snowshoeing escapades.

Elko, known for its cowboy culture, embraces a different kind of Wild West in the winter. Picture yourself gliding through the Ruby Mountains on snowshoes, the snow-capped peaks serving as a majestic backdrop to your clumsy yet determined strides. Pro tip: Practice your best cowboy swagger while wearing snowshoes for an added touch of flair.

Winnemucca may be famous for its Basque culture, but in winter, it's all about that snowshoe swag. Embark on a trail and channel your inner sheepherder – minus the actual sheep, of course. Just be prepared to explain to bewildered onlookers why you're herding invisible animals in the snow. Bonus points if you can incorporate a sheepish grin.

Battle Mountain isn't just a name; it's a testament to the epic snowshoe battles waiting to be waged. Engage in a friendly snowball fight with fellow snowshoers or challenge the elements in a dramatic duel against the wind. Just remember, the wind always wins, but the key is to go down with style.

In Eureka, where lead-silver mining once ruled, consider snowshoeing your new pursuit. Navigate the snow-covered hills with the determination of a prospector seeking the motherlode. And if you happen to find a snow-covered nugget, remember – it's probably just a rock.

Now that you're acquainted with the prime snowshoeing spots, let's explore the art of walking on snow with tennis rackets strapped to your feet. It's an important outdoor skill to learn, trust me.

*Lesson 1: The Stance*

Picture yourself as a penguin. Not just any penguin, but a penguin with snowshoes. Adopt a wide stance to avoid tripping over your own oversized footwear. Don't worry about looking awkward; in the world of snowshoeing, awkward is the new cool.

*Lesson 2: The Waddle*

Embrace the waddle. Walk with purpose, but let the snowshoes dictate your swagger. You're not going for grace here; you're going for survival. Plus, a good waddle makes for excellent Instagram content.

*Lesson 3: The Snowshoe Shimmy*

When faced with uneven terrain, channel your inner snow dance. The snowshoe shimmy involves a combination of side steps, twirls, and, if necessary, interpretive dance moves. It may not get you anywhere faster, but it's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Nevada Outdoor School (NOS), nestled in the heart of Northern Nevada in Winnemucca, offers a haven for snowshoeing enthusiasts. Join their guided snowshoe hikes led by NOS Staff and AmeriCorps Outdoor Educators, who are more than willing to share their experiences on navigating the snowy terrain. As a beginner, you'll find comfort in the limited number of snowshoes available for use, ensuring you won't have to wrestle a herd of Yeti enthusiasts for a pair.

Gather at the trailhead, perhaps in Water Canyon, meet fellow snowshoers, and embark on an adventure where awkward stances and waddles are not only accepted but encouraged. The guides will patiently lead you through the paces, ensuring you shimmy through the snow-covered hills with both finesse and laughter.

Elko, not to be outdone, is home to another outpost of the Nevada Outdoor School. Prepare for a winter wonderland experience with guided snowshoe hikes that cater to beginners. Limited snowshoes are available for use, making this the perfect opportunity to try out your newfound waddling skills.

As you navigate the snowy trails of Lamoille Canyon or Southfork Meadows, take in the beauty of the surrounding landscape while bonding with fellow snowshoers over shared stumbles and triumphant waddles. The guides at Nevada Outdoor School aren’t “experts” in snowshoeing, but they are masters of turning a snowy outing into a memorable escapade filled with laughter and camaraderie.

For a unique snowshoeing experience with a touch of history, head to the California Trail Interpretive Center near Elko. Immerse yourself in the stories of the pioneers while enjoying a guided snowshoe hike through the snow-covered trails. With a limited number of snowshoes available for beginners, you'll be in good company as you explore both the historical and snowy landscapes.

The knowledgeable guides at the Trail Center will not only help you strap on your snowshoes but will also regale you with tales of the intrepid souls who traversed these very trails during the westward expansion. It's like taking a step back in time, only with more layers and fewer covered wagons.

After your guided snowshoe adventures, it's time to unwind and share your triumphs and snowshoeing escapades. Whether you're in Elko, Winnemucca, Eureka, Lovelock, Battle Mountain, Tuscarora, or anywhere throughout our great state, make sure to visit local establishments to warm up and exchange stories.

Head to a cozy café or a welcoming pub, and swap tales with fellow snowshoers over a cup of hot cocoa or a well-earned craft beer. Relive the moments of your snowy odyssey, from the quirky encounters on the trail to the triumphant waddle across pristine landscapes.

In the heart of Northern Nevada, snowshoeing isn't just a winter activity; it's a community affair. Whether you choose to navigate the snowy hills with Nevada Outdoor School in Elko or Winnemucca or delve into history at the California Trail Interpretive Center, your snowshoeing journey is bound to be filled with laughter, camaraderie, and a newfound appreciation for the wintry landscapes of this unique region. So, strap on those snowshoes, join a guided adventure, and let the snowy trails of Northern Nevada become your canvas for winter wonder. Happy snowshoeing, intrepid beginners! May your trails be guided, your snowshoes be shared, and your laughter echo through the snowy hills.  ~ Nevada Outdoor School

The Outside Guide: “Preserving the Past: Exploring Nevada's Historical and Archaeological Sites”

Nestled in the heart of the American West, Northern Nevada is a region rich in history and home to countless archaeological treasures. From ancient petroglyphs to mining relics, these historical artifacts offer us a glimpse into the past and provide a valuable link to our heritage. 

Nevada is a land of contrasts, where sprawling deserts meet towering mountains, and the past is intertwined with the present. The region's history is an eclectic mix of Native American cultures, pioneers, miners, and ranchers, all of whom have left their mark on the land. In doing so, they've created a treasure trove of historical and archaeological sites that reveal the stories of those who came before us.

The indigenous peoples of Northern Nevada, including the Northern and Southern Paiute, Washoe, Goshute, Shoshone, and Western Shoshone, have a deep connection to the land. The region is dotted with rock writings (petroglyphs and pictographs), bearing witness to their rich cultural heritage. Sites like Grimes Point and Hidden Cave, Hickinson Petroglyphs, and the Mt. Irish Archeological District give us insights into the daily lives, beliefs, and expressions of these ancient communities.

The discovery of silver and gold in the 19th century led to a mining boom that reshaped the landscape and brought waves of fortune seekers to the region. Ghost towns like Virginia City, Belmont, and Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park stand as eerie reminders of the mining era, with well-preserved buildings, equipment, and even the fossilized remains of ancient marine reptiles.

Northern Nevada played a vital role in the westward expansion of the United States. The California Trail, part of the larger Emigrant Trail system, passed through the area, leaving behind traces of wagon ruts and historical markers.

As we explore Nevada's historical and archaeological sites, it is essential to follow the principles of "Tread Lightly!" and "Leave No Trace." These guiding principles promote responsible outdoor recreation and help preserve the fragile and irreplaceable heritage of the region.

Tread Lightly! encourages responsible off-roading and outdoor activities while minimizing the impact on the environment and historical sites. It promotes practices like staying on designated trails, respecting boundaries, and preserving the integrity of archaeological sites.

Leave No Trace is a set of guidelines that advocates for the protection of the natural and cultural landscape by minimizing human impact. The principles include disposing of waste properly, leaving what you find, and respecting historical and archaeological artifacts. This not only safeguards the past but also ensures that future generations can experience the same sense of wonder and discovery.

Nevada Outdoor School (NOS) is an organization dedicated to fostering a love for the outdoors and promoting responsible outdoor recreation. With a mission to "connect Nevadans to the outdoors," NOS offers a variety of programs designed to engage people of all ages in meaningful experiences in Northern Nevada's unique landscapes.

NOS provides outdoor education programs that teach students and adults about the natural world and the importance of preserving it. These programs often include visits to historical and archaeological sites, where participants learn about the rich history of the region and the need to protect these places.

NOS also provides training and awareness information for individuals and groups who want to explore Northern Nevada responsibly. They teach essential skills for minimizing environmental impact, respecting cultural heritage, and practicing safety in the outdoors. For more information regarding formal trainings or awareness workshops visit .

Nevadans for Cultural Preservation (NVFCP) is an organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Nevada's cultural sites. Their mission is to ensure that the rich history of the state is passed down to future generations. NVFCP is actively involved in a variety of preservation efforts across the state.

NVFCP collaborates with local, state, and federal authorities and partners with other organizations, volunteers, and local communities to ensure audiences receive targeted archaeological preservation education and to provide restoration and conservation services for cultural sites. 

 “We cannot expect people to care about things they know nothing about, follow laws they've never heard of, or protect things they cannot identify.”

The organization provides opportunities for the public to learn about the significance of our heritage sites and the importance of responsible exploration. They encourage everyone “EXPLORE Nevada, REPORT damages, and PROTECT our cultural sites.” Damage reports can be made online on their website anytime. They work with the State Historic Preservation Office to ensure the reports make it to the correct public land management personnel. NVFCP even created an OHV Preservation Ambassador Program with a quick online training course. More information about Nevadans for Cultural Preservation may be found on their website: .  To report damage you find at a cultural site on public lands in Nevada go to:

Nevada's historical and archaeological sites are windows into the past, offering a chance to connect with the rich tapestry of human history that has unfolded in this region. However, with this privilege comes a responsibility to protect and preserve these sites for the future. By adhering to principles like "Tread Lightly!" and "Leave No Trace," engaging with organizations like the Nevada Outdoor School, and supporting the efforts of Nevadans for Cultural Preservation, we can ensure that these valuable remnants of the past continue to inspire and educate generations to come. Remember, the actions we take today will shape the history of tomorrow, so let's , Tread Lightly!, Leave No Trace,  and safeguard Nevada’s historical and archaeological treasures. Get outside, explore, and respect Nevada’s historical sites. It’s good for everyone.

Photo Credit: Nevadans For Cultural Preservation.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Outside Guide - “2024: A New Year of Outdoor Resolutions"

Stepping into the optimistic expanse of 2024, our collective gaze turns towards resolutions that breathe vitality into our existence. Amidst the myriad of aspirations, a universal yearning for a profound connection with nature resonates globally. The new year unfurls before us like an untouched canvas, an opportune moment to embark on a journey that beckons us to spend more time outdoors, immersing ourselves in the serenity and majesty of the natural world. In this exploration of inspiration, we'll dive into a rich tapestry of a thousand words, unraveling resolutions that promise not only to enrich our lives but also to nurture a sense of responsibility towards the environment.

Daily Nature Walks:

Amid the complexity of life, the simplest resolutions often carry the most profound impact. Pledging to embark on a daily nature walk signifies a commitment to prioritize physical and mental well-being. Whether it's a leisurely stroll through a local park, an invigorating hike along a scenic trail, or a reflective amble along the shoreline, the daily inhalation of fresh air and immersion in natural surroundings invigorates the senses, creating a space for introspection and renewal.

Learn a New Outdoor Skill:

In the spirit of continuous growth, 2024 encourages us to challenge ourselves by acquiring a new outdoor skill. Mastery of the art of campfire cooking, the ability to identify local flora and fauna, or gaining basic survival skills—these pursuits not only deepen our connection with nature but also foster self-sufficiency. Attend workshops, join local clubs, or explore online resources to embark on a journey of perpetual learning and skill acquisition.

Cultivate a Garden:

Transforming a slice of your outdoor space into a thriving garden is a resolution that yields ongoing rewards. Gardening is not merely a pastime; it's a venture that provides a tangible sense of accomplishment and fosters a profound connection with the cycles of nature. Whether you possess a sprawling backyard or a modest balcony, cultivating a garden—be it a variety of plants or a collection of potted flora—allows you to witness the magic of growth and experience the joy of nurturing life.

Limit Screen Time Outdoors:

In an era dominated by digital interfaces, one of the most impactful resolutions is a conscious reduction of screen time when immersed in the great outdoors. Challenge yourself to disconnect from technology when picnicking in a park, hiking a mountain trail, or relaxing by the sea. This resolution not only enhances your connection with the environment but also encourages mindfulness, fostering an active presence in the moment.

Volunteer for Outdoor Conservation:

Elevate your commitment to nature by actively participating in outdoor conservation efforts. Join local environmental organizations, engage in tree-planting initiatives, or volunteer for trail maintenance programs. Contributing to the preservation of natural spaces ensures that future generations can revel in the beauty of the great outdoors, solidifying your role as a steward of the environment.

Embrace Sustainable Practices:

Make 2024 the year of eco-friendly living by adopting sustainable practices in your outdoor activities. Whether camping, hiking, or enjoying a day at the beach, prioritize reusable items, minimize waste, and adhere to the principles of "Leave No Trace." This resolution ensures that your outdoor adventures leave a minimal impact on the environment, fostering a symbiotic relationship with nature.

Explore Your Local Wilderness:

In our pursuit of grand adventures, we often overlook the hidden treasures in our own backyard. Resolve to explore your local wilderness in 2024. Discover nearby parks, nature reserves, and overlooked gems. This not only cultivates a deeper appreciation for the natural wonders close to home but also reduces your carbon footprint by minimizing travel.

Start a Nature Journal:

Capture the essence of the outdoors tangibly by initiating a nature journal. Whether you're an artist, a writer, or simply someone who loves to document experiences, a nature journal provides a creative outlet to express your connection with the natural world. Record observations, sketch landscapes, and jot down your thoughts as you traverse the diverse tapestry of nature.

Introduce Outdoor Activities to Friends and Family:

Share the joy of outdoor living by introducing friends and family to the wonders of nature. Organize group outings, plan weekend camping trips, or invite loved ones for a picnic in the park. Building a community that appreciates and values outdoor experiences not only strengthens relationships but also creates a support system for your collective journey towards a more nature-centric lifestyle.

Embrace the Changing Seasons:

Nature is an ever-changing masterpiece, with each season bringing its own unique charm. Resolve to embrace the changing seasons in 2024. Whether reveling in the vibrant hues of spring, basking in the warm embrace of summer, relishing the crisp air of autumn, or marveling at the serene beauty of winter, savor the distinct experiences that each season offers. This resolution encourages a deeper connection with the natural cycles that shape our world.

As we step into 2024, let us make it a year of meaningful outdoor resolutions. These commitments promise not only personal growth and well-being but also contribute to a collective effort in preserving and cherishing the environment. Amidst the whirlwind of modern life, let the outdoors be our sanctuary—a realm of solace and inspiration. Through these resolutions, we embark on a transformative journey, reconnecting with nature and fostering a harmonious relationship that extends beyond the confines of the new year.  Don’t forget: “Get Outdoors! It’s great for everyone.”

The Outside Guide - “Holiday Buying Guide for Your ‘Outdoorsy’ People”

As we move through the holiday season, Nevada Outdoor School is counting every blessing! We deeply appreciate the support we have received from our community. It is a gift to serve and connect kids ages 0-99 with our natural world. Getting outside and exploring is a gift you can give yourself no matter the season! However, the holiday season is an excellent opportunity to give the outdoorsy people in your life the gift of being prepared for any outdoor adventure they might have.

The first principle of Leave No Trace is “Plan Ahead and Be Prepared”, making sure you are equipped with the right information and supplies to have a fun, safe and minimal impact outdoor adventure before you ever leave your house. The 10 Essentials, formalized by the Mountaineers (, outlines 10 essential systems needed for a successful and safe outdoor adventure whether you’re hiking 1 mile or 50 miles. It also serves as an excellent holiday shopping guide for the outdoor enthusiasts in your life!

You can easily remember the The Mountaineers Ten Essentials list with this fun limerick by Steve McClune:

To navigate, head for the sun

With first aid and knife on the run

Bring fire and shelter

Extra food is a helper

But water and clothes weigh a ton

Still wondering what specific gifts might do the trick? Here are some ideas:

1. Navigation — Tech savvy electronic devices like GPS units and smart phones offer knowledge to the unskilled navigator, however, failure and non-connectivity rates are high. For this reason, purchasing non-electronic tools like maps and compasses for your outdoor adventurer adds a level of safety.

2. Headlamp (Light) — Sometimes an adventure takes longer than planned. A light source like a headlamp or a flashlight allows your loved one to find their way back to the trailhead even after sunset. Reusable batteries and a battery charger to keep these light sources charged and working throughout the year is also a great gift idea.

3. Sun protection — Even in winter the sun is harsh. Sunscreen is a great stocking-stuffer. Fun, cool, and functional hats, sunglasses and UV protective clothes are usually a hit with outdoor enthusiasts.

4. First Aid — Allergic reactions, bee stings, and minor scrapes and falls are common occurrences. It’s important to be prepared to treat these ailments if you spend a lot of time in nature. Foot care products to help prevent blisters like moleskin, insect repellent and small First Aid kits are great stocking stuffers.

5. Knife (and Repair Kits) — A knife is helpful for first aid, food preparation and repairs. Even the best equipment eventually fails. Zippers break, chipmunks eat holes in your backpack, and pants rip. A small multi-tool or roll of duct tape are perfect for this!

6. Fire — Having a plan to start a fire in the case of an emergency is key. A lighter or other fire starter is a great gift idea. Looking for something a little bigger? Consider a camp stove or lightweight jet boil.

7. Shelter — The most common mistake people make is assuming they will be back as planned. Being prepared to bivouac (stay) through a storm or even overnight by having an emergency blanket or large plastic contractor bag is a good idea and could save a life.

8. Extra Food (Nutrition) — Dense calorie rich foods like energy bars or even candy bars are good stocking stuffers for your outdoor enthusiast to stick in their pack during their next trip outdoors. Does your loved one venture into bear country? Maybe consider a bear-proof food storage container.

9. Extra Water (Hydration) — Adults need a half liter of water per hour of nonstrenuous activity in regular conditions. A water bottle or bladder-system helps with this need. Another alternative is a water filter, assuming there is water available in the area.

10. Extra Clothes — Weather conditions can change over time, and sometimes quickly! The proper clothing and the availability of waterproof, windproof and insulating layers in a backpack can help your loved one adapt and continue having fun in any condition.

Wondering where to purchase these supplies? There are many reputable stores in our local area that stock these outdoor essentials. If the supply you desire is not available locally or you choose to shop online instead, consider using an online shopping platform such as or, to support non-profits.

When you sign up for any of these online charity programs you can select your charity of choice. If you do not have another local favorite, Nevada Outdoor School will happily accept your donation via shopping. Gear up and get outside, it is good for humans everywhere.

 First Published Elko Daily Free Press 11-26-2021