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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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Mountain campus may expand, open for season May 15

View of Mummy Range at Cirque Meadows. This is a short hike from CSU’s Mountain Campus and a location where Natural Resource students attend class. Photo by Brianna Nash

The CSU Mountain Campus will open May 15 for natural resource students, forestry students and campus groups for conferences, and is pursuing building expansions.

Every summer season the campus houses classes for Warner College of Natural Resources students. This year Mountain Campus will host over 120 conference groups and over 20 Poudre District Elementary groups.


Mountain Campus houses an average of about 200 students from the Warner College of Natural Resources each summer.

“We are looking at additional classroom and research facility expansion in conjunction with the Warner College.” Pat Rastall, Director of Mountain Campus, wrote in an email to the Collegian.

The main course, Field Ecology and Measurements Information (NR-220), a requirement for many Warner College majors, begins when Mountain Campus opens for the season on May 15. NR-220 is a four-week program separated from the original forestry program in the late 1960s or early 1970s. In the class students learn many outdoor skills necessary for their careers. This summer the NR-220 season will last for 12 weeks with three sessions.

Other classes include F230, a Forestry program that goes from late May to early June, and Poudre School District’s Environmental Science camps, Eco-Week, in the fall.

Non-class activities are abundant throughout the Mountain Campus season. Conferences are held there as well as self-efficacy and team building challenges on the ropes course. Other departments and faculty events take place as well as non-affiliated groups with educational purposes.

CSU’s Mountain Campus has been owned by CSU for over 100 years.

Originally it was established as a forestry field camp in 1915, as an act from Congress allowed CSU to find land in Roosevelt National Forest to establish a site for biological research and field study.

Then CSU President Charles Lory took a trip with then Colorado Gov. Elias Ammons to the roughly 1,500 acres they would later designate as CSU property. It was not until 1972 that CSU officially purchased the property from a family of homesteaders – the Koenig family. Many of the original buildings have been restored by the Colorado Historical Society and remain on the property to show what life was like for pioneers. The cabin now serves as the Mountain Campus Museum.

The campus was first known as Pingree Park, named after an 1800s logger by the name of George Pingree who once ran a railroad tie camp in the valley. However, Pingree was involved in the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 and so in 2015 CSU changed the name to Mountain Campus. During the Sand Creek Massacre a band of Colonel John Chivington’s Colorado volunteers massacred a community of Southern Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes in Sand Creek. While only nine of the volunteers were killed, 148 natives were killed – more than half of them women and children, according to The Colorado volunteers returned and killed the wounded, mutilated the bodies and set fire to the village.


“He didn’t reflect CSU’s values, so we decided to change the name to help integrate the campus into CSU more, and to also honor the long tradition of Native American tribes in the valley who were there for generations before Pingree,” wrote Rastall.

Rastall has been working at Mountain Campus since 1976.

“Growing up in Michigan, I fell in love with Colorado and the high mountains,” Rastall wrote.

“When you take a deep breath the air has a way of going right through your skin and into your soul,” Rastall wrote. “When you spend time in the valley you appreciate simpler things like a good book or writing an old-fashioned letter on real paper.”

Brianna Nash, a CSU senior in journalism and political science, worked three summers at Mountain Campus. She spent two summers surveying and one cooking.

“It’s one of the most unique places because you get to experience solitude with other people,” Nash said. “You get to share the beauty of solitude.”

CSU students are always invited during the season. Groups can book facilities and stay overnight and there are Forest Service camping sites along Colorado State Highway 14. There is also plenty of hiking.

“Many great hikes start in the valley,” Rastall wrote. “Some are scenic and mild, others can be strenuous and include 12,000 foot, non-technical mountain ascents.”

Additionally, there are summer or season positions available for utility, food, housekeeping, the ropes course and Eco-Week instructors.

Collegian reporter Jym Cox can be reached at or on Twitter @jym2233.

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