The Nature Connection is dedicated to eliminating the barriers to getting outside by providing fun, active, and educational outdoor experiences for youth and families in our community.

The Nature Connection is the hub of outdoor recreation and education for Delta County and Olathe, supported by the Delta County School District. Our project began in 2018 and is also supported by Great Outdoors Colorado and the Generation Wild Initiative.

Our vision is that:

All kids and their families, trust The Nature Connection to provide high-quality, ongoing school-based and summer programs that develop outdoor skills, a curiosity for nature and a love for exploring the “best backyard in the world.”

Read more about our 2020 Strategic Plan here.


To achieve our mission we are developing places, pathways and programs that help youth and families get outside. Our “place” developments include connecting trails, playground climbing boulders and other recreation opportunities that make it easier for families and children to connect their “backyard to the backcountry.”

The Nature Connection offers school-year and summer “programs” that get children onto cross country ski trails on the Grand Mesa National Forest and on mountain bikes across the Western Slope. Each program is designed to inspire a lifelong connection to the outdoors.

The Nature Connection’s outdoor “pathways” are job and internship opportunities that connect young adults with active, sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods in our community. We support students working in TNC summer camps and trailcrews, with small organic farms and in local outdoor industry partners.

Looking to the Future

  • Our K-12 curriculum-based education programs take kids to local public lands to enjoy hands-on science and outdoor skill instruction during the school year.
  • Our Skis for Kids program offers cross-country ski lending and winter ecology lessons for local schools and youth groups.
  • We’re finalizing a new pump track and mountain bike trails near The Nature Connection building in Hotchkiss, for all levels of biking.
  • We are embarking on the next phase of our “place development” and by 2021, we will add a pump track, an archery range, short connecting trails, a Storywalk™ trail walk, and a fitness trail to locations throughout our region.
  • Schools in Delta County and Olathe have seen upgrades such as climbing boulders, shade sails, school gardens, Weatherport structures, seating areas and more.
  • Our gear library includes mountain bikes, camping and backpacking equipment, kayaks and stand up paddle boards! This equipment is used  in TNC camps and programs year-round.
  • We have expanded our gear lending to local school teachers. Our camps and programs are still your best chance to learn safety and proper use from our staff. These experiences provide multiple days with our gear while connecting to the outdoors.
  • We host youth camps, jobs and internships throughout Delta County and they are consistently growing.
Students scheduled for a day of cross-country skiing & nature education each winter
sets of cross-country ski gear borrowed by Delta County School District staff, students & families
youngsters enjoyed our summer camps & backpacking trips