Mission & Goals
"Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center provides educational opportunities to youth, youth leaders, and adults through programs focused on environmental and leadership education."
Upham Woods is the result of an amazingly far-sighted vision of
two sisters from the Upham family. In 1941, when the United States
was growing rapidly at the expense of its natural resources, Elizabeth
and Caroline Upham decided to save their beloved childhood summer
home from the hands of developers forever. These sisters laid the
philosophical groundwork for Upham Woods with their stipulations
of the land's use. They wrote: "These lands are to be used
as an outdoor laboratory and camp for youth, such as 4-H clubs and
other people cooperating with the University of Wisconsin in the
advancement of conservation, of agriculture and rural culture."
Since 1941, Upham Woods has been a place where people gather to
explore and experience the natural world. Early on, programs with
Ranger Mac and Marvin Hanson introduced 4-H and school groups to
the unique geology and forest communities of the area. Nature study
was a main component of the program.
Today, the emphasis continues with even greater focus, as environmental
issues have grown on a local and global scale. The activities at
Upham Woods are designed to encourage youth leaders to address environmental
issues with the goal being the development of caring and responsible
stewards of the natural world and its inhabitants.
Upham Woods' programming focuses on both the natural and cultural
history of the Wisconsin River, with topics ranging from the French
Voyageurs of the Fur Trade, to finding archeological artifacts from
the 1800's Dell House, to exploring the sandstone caves of the Dells.
Through Upham Woods' educational programming, youth obtain a unique
view on how Wisconsin has changed ecologically and culturally. Youth
are encouraged to explore Wisconsin's past to discover valuable lessons
that will enable each of us to better plan for the future of Wisconsin
and the world.
Today, as you visit Upham Woods you will find a model residential
environmental education center, operated by the University of Wisconsin-Extension.
The center sits on a prime location on the Wisconsin River, two miles
north of the Wisconsin Dells, offering an excellent "river classroom" to
study the both the natural and cultural history of Wisconsin. The
center rests on 310 total acres of forested land, including a 210-acre
island called "Blackhawk Island." This island has been
designated a state natural area and offers a beautiful example of
a mature mixed forest featuring flora not commonly found in the area.
The island also has tremendous sand stone caves formed during the
ice age. It's definitely a "different view" when you climb
The facility consists of 14 buildings including a fully equipped
nature center and a raptor enclosure housing educational birds of
prey. The center supplies lodging for 200 people, meals, and environmental
education year-round for youth and youth leaders, including environmental
lesson plans, summer camp programming, leadership workshops and other
conferences. Upham Woods has three full-time teaching naturalists
that live on-site in spring, winter and fall and a total of five
teaching naturalists in the summer.
Come and Visit Us!
Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center
N194 Cty N, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
Phone: (608) 254-6461
Fax: (608) 253-7140
Map and Directions are available here