Birch Creek Programs


Each year the Birch Creek Center operates, supports, or hosts numerous and various programs. From 1st graders discovering how trees grow so tall to grandparents fly-fishing with their grandchildren, the Birch Creek Center is where explorations as well as memories are made. 

K-12 School Programs

Continuing Programs

Each spring and fall, the Birch Creek Center hosts hundreds of school children from southwestern Montana to learn the ecology of streams, ponds, forests, and fire. In 1993 the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and the University of Montana Western formed a partnership to enhance outdoor education opportunities at the Center. Through this partnership, a successful site-specific education program called Pioneering Discoveries allows 5-8 grade students the opportunity to conduct experiential, interdisciplinary studies of the native ecosystems at Birch Creek.

Low Ropes Challenge Course

Complementing a group’s visit to the Birch Creek Center is the Low Ropes Course. The Low Ropes Course consists of a series of elements and challenges that a group must work together to solve and overcome. An experienced facilitator provides guidance through a series of challenges including problem solving games and the use of elements made of trees, planks, ropes, and cables. The course is designed so that each individual must participate in order for the whole group to succeed. Teamwork, rather than athletic ability, is the key to success.

CassiemeetatreeStudents discovering the forest in a not-so usual wayMvc-JDclassftudents at the Annual Rural and Home School Day are introduced to the trees around Birch Creek by Forest Service personnel
Pioneering Discoveries utilizes the natural resources on site as a basis for learning about the environment. It provides a blueprint for conducting specialized studies for ponds, stream and riparian areas, forest, rangeland, nightlife, and geology. The curriculum guides students through a learning progression from discovery to investigation, data collection to analysis, and finally into application, or action, as a result of the learning experience. Furthermore, it leads pre- and post-field activities to prepare and extend the field experience into the classroom.  


Low Ropes Course

Through assistance from the Community Youth Initiative, U.S. Forest Service, and Americorps, an extensive low ropes course was added to the Birch Creek Center in 1999. The Low Ropes Course is used to develop team-building skills and to foster self-confidence. Groups are taken through the low ropes course by the Center's trained facilitators. Courses range from 3-8 hours depending on the focus and goals of the group. Groups utilizing the course are quite diverse. Some previous groups have included preschool teacher training groups, school groups, Montana Youth Challenge, and university freshman orientation. 

IMG 4193 Trust fall

Continuing Education

Various workshops, conferences and teacher trainings are conducted at the Birch Creek Center each year. State, federal and private groups utilize the Center’s remote location for specialized trainings.

rockA little rock work servicegroup Service Elderhostel group after restoring the historic "Captain's Cabin" and turning it into the only CCC museum in Montana

Geology Field Camps


Southwest Montana provides the ideal landscape for the study of geologic processes. Geology students come to Beaverhead County from all over the world to study this unique geologic environment. Geology in the area covers a spectrum of the geologic time scale from the Archean to the Quaterernary. The tectonic environments consist of extensional and compressional structures. The Block Mountain area is one of the best fold and thrust belt structures in the United States. The geology is well exposed, there is easy access to the field, there is minimal topographic relief and many of the map areas are located on public land.

geolimeGeology student studying the local limestone geolookGeology student 

Family Events

In addition to all of the educational programs at the Birch Creek Center, we also host relaxed and heartwarming family reunions and weddings. We can accommodate up to 80 people overnight and up to 200 for a daytime event. Most of our weddings take place at the outdoor "Amphitheater" followed by a reception around the deck of the Bender Conference Center with Torrey Mountain offering a picturesque backdrop.