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.

What do we do?

  • K-12 school year programs that take kids to local public lands to enjoy hands-on science and outdoor experiences
  • Summer Camps in all of our communities focused on providing formative outdoor experiences for ALL children
  • Skis for Kids program offers cross-country ski lending and winter ecology  for local schools and youth groups.
  • Learn to Bike programs at local elementary schools and on mountain bike trails near The Nature Connection building in Hotchkiss.
  • Family Programs like paddle board lending, XC ski lending and more  that help families get outside in all seasons
  • Support schools in building outdoor classrooms and resources for teaching outside
  • Our gear library includes mountain bikes, camping and backpacking equipment, kayaks and stand up paddle boards! This equipment is used  in TNC camps and offered to teachers for outdoor programs year-round.
  • 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