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National Publication Ranks UW among Top Outdoor Schools

August 20, 2012
Students rafting
Students challenge the whitewater during a raft trip sponsored by the UW Outdoor Program. Outside magazine ranks the university in its list of the top 25 college programs. (UW Photo)

Opportunities to participate in activities ranging from rock climbing and fly fishing to whitewater kayaking and cross-country skiing have landed the University of Wyoming in Outside magazine’s rankings of the top schools that appeal to the magazine’s readers.

“We know what our readers look for in any kind of experience: adventure, grit, sweat, a worthy struggle, tested endurance, goose bump-inducing views, wide-open skies, maybe some roiling water,” the article reads. “So why should college be any different?  It shouldn’t.”

But to compile the list, the magazine relied on more than just the exhilaration of its readers. It developed a methodology designed to capture all possible aspects of an institution’s ability to cater to “your adrenaline-rush cravings.”

It found what it was looking for at UW, citing the university’s proximity to national forest lands and the numerous experiences offered through the Outdoor Program (, including domestic trips and wilderness-leadership programs, which take participants into the backcountry year round. The free Friday-night bouldering experience was cited, along with trips to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.

“Incoming freshmen can choose from six outdoors trips (backpacking, caving, mountain biking, rock climbing, canoeing or a wilderness service project; to meet new friends and bond with classmates,” according to the article. “More seasoned students can earn Wilderness First Responder or scuba certification, borrow from the bike library or rent from a wide selection of gear, ranging from $2 for a bear canister to $38 for a canoe.”

“This is fantastic,” says Outdoor Program Coordinator Dan McCoy. “It’s great that a national publication recognizes the services and recreational opportunities that we offer to students, such as our wilderness orientation program and summer outdoor experiences.”

The magazine also cites academic programs in recreation and park administration, botany and zoology, where students help manage a fishery. It notes the non-credit lessons in areas such as fly fishing, cross-country skiing and avalanche safety, and mentions UW’s agreement with the National Outdoor Leadership School for crossover classes, allowing students to go abroad to study adventure topics for credit; a backpacking course in Australia is a popular option.

“The Cowboys have left a legacy in a few places: the men’s and women’s Nordic skiing teams have storied programs, together having won nine national titles over the last 10 years,” the article notes.

Outside magazine’s mission is to “inspire active participation in the world outside through award-winning coverage of the sports, people, places, adventure, discoveries, health and fitness, gear and apparel, trends and events that make up an active lifestyle.”

The complete review of UW can be found at


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