Rapid City Blog: Impressive Learning Center


I wasn’t sure what to expect at the Outdoor Campus West. All I knew is that it was an outdoor education center. We pulled up to the building, and, holy smokes, I was impressed. A gorgeous structure with impressive wood-beamed, A-frame dormers above a full wall of windows sits behind a little manmade lake, lined with canoes.


And once we stepped inside, we were told that all the exhibits were hands-on and I didn’t have to tell my boys to not touch anything (sweet relief). The kids started climbing man-made rocks and logs, pulling on drawers and that show facts about wildlife, discovering little doors to hidden treasures: a chipmunk in a tree, for instance.

The kids crawled through logs, looked at the animals and thoroughly enjoyed the interactive display. There, they got to select an animal, and a giant video of that animal in action took over a large screen. My boys were mesmerized. We also got to touch and even hold (me) a bull snake.


Outside, a mile-and-a-half of trail leads through rolling hills. We walked in a light rain down the path to the tree house, and talked about how awesome it is that the center is free to the public…. And how, especially if I still had my kids in strollers and lived nearby, I’d come here all the time to walk around, let them play on the outdoor playground, exploring nature hands-on indoors, and learning.

While we stood atop the tree house, I noticed a woman speed-walking the trails, climbing the stairs of the tree house before descending, and then continuing her way on the nicely preserved, smooth gravel paths of the center.


And on our walk back to the building, our host told us about all the free programs for both kids and elderly held at the Campus. My son and husband walked over to the outdoor playground and stepped from tree-stump to tree-stump, and I vowed to get our camping kit ready for summer as soon as I could once we got home to Boulder. Inspired.