Classroom Expeditions: Our Facilities

Base Camp Facilities

The 540-acre Base Camp property is a “living laboratory” that is home to many different microclimates and ecosystems. Our custom campus is largely non-electric and includes:

  • Two Navajo hogans
  • Natural science museum and laboratory
  • A library
  • Native Arts Workshop
  • Field archaeology lab
  • Cabins and composting latrines
  • Mess Hall and industrial kitchen
  • Several campfire rings
  • Indoor and outdoor gathering spaces
  • Swimming pool
  • Open-air shower house
  • Organic farm and hoop house gardens


Our Food

Each meal is prepared with both nutrition and taste in mind, using fresh ingredients and produce from our farm. Groups eat family style in our mess hall.

Dietary Restrictions and Food Allergies

Our cooks are happy to accommodate a wide variety of dietary needs: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free are all common.

Visit our Base Camp page for more information.

Our Outdoor Classroom

Managed as a land preserve since 1934, Base Camp sits on 540 acres on the northern slope of the Zuni Mountains in northwestern New Mexico.

Discover Ecology and Biology

At an elevation of 7,500 feet, the Base Camp property is a singular educational resource for teaching how ecological restoration can work. Our property includes wonderful examples of:

  • Cottonwood-willow riparian areas
  • Piñon-juniper savannas
  • Ponderosa forest ecosystems
  • Sawyer Creek, a perennial stream, provides a particularly unique study in a healthy high desert riparian habitat.
  • A wide variety of habitats for many species from owl to elk
  • Read more about Science & Nature at The Gulch

Discover History and Archaeology

There is also a rich history from the ancient puebloan dwellings that once covered this land. Archaeological resources include:

  • Unexcavated ancestral Puebloan dwellings
  • Large concentrations of surface artifacts
  • Our own artifact collection and interpretive archaeology lab
  • Read more about Archaeology at The Gulch


Discover Craftsmanship

Our Native Arts Workshop is outfitted with tools for a variety of hands-on learning opportunities:

  • Pit firing ceramics
  • Yucca weaving and rug-making
  • Silversmithing
  • Leatherworking
  • Painting, illustration, and much more
  • Read more about Arts & Culture at The Gulch


Traveling Field Expeditions

In addition to exploring the Cottonwood Gulch Base Camp, school groups have the opportunity to travel and camp throughout the Southwest.  

Depending on the experience level and goals of the school our travel expeditions could include:

  • Travel to Utah for multi-day backpacks
  • A hike along the rim of the Grand Canyon
  • Cutting down trees to restore an overgrown forest
  • Walking through the ancient ruins of Chaco Canyon and other archaeological sites

These traveling expeditions are often an invaluable component of a school group trek, and we are happy to sit down with you and a map to plan an appropriate and exciting route.

For more about where we travel, visit the Where We Explore page.

Gulch Community Resources

Cottonwood Gulch is also an active member of our local community, and we enjoy long-standing relationships with our neighboring ranches and Native American reservations. Many of our Classroom Expeditions have the opportunity to:

  • Work side-by-side with our neighbors on volunteer projects
  • Listen to exciting stories about this landscape from the native people who have called it home for centuries
  • Help construct a new hogan or prepare for a kinaalda ceremony on the Navajo Reservation
  • Attend a Zuni rain dance or an Acoma feast day
  • Improve trails alongside National Forest rangers
  • Participate in field research and monitoring with local ecologists
  • Read more on the Community Involvement & Service Learning page.