The Wild Zone


The Wild Zone at HPEC

The Wild Zone at High Plains Environmental Center, will serve as an experiential, outdoor classroom where children can partake in self-directed learning and foster a love of nature. Children of all ages will be able to make their own discoveries using all of their senses and add some unstructured play to their routines.

Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods (2007) reflected the growing body of evidence linking the lack of nature in children’s lives and the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. The Wild Zone at HPEC is a direct response to this study.



Elements of The Wild Zone

  • Willow Tunnel – To enter the Wild Zone, weave your way through the Willow Tunnel, a passageway from the ordinary to the magical. Decide on your own adventure – choose to follow one passageway or the other.

  • Rock MountainOne passage out of the Willow Tunnel will find you in a field of treasures! Dig through the piles of rocks, sticks, and other fun finds to make your own tools, creations, or art.

  • The Nest Tree – Take the other passage to find the Nest Tree – a human-sized nest in the crook of a tree. Climb five feet up and feel what it’s like to be a bird!

  • The Toad’s Tea Party – Take a breather, or just take time to observe your surroundings from the live willow chairs that overlook the Wild Zone. These chairs and stump tables are perfect for a good conversation or even a picnic.

  • Tree Trunk Bridge – Follow the path along the drainage swale that leads to the stormwater pond. Observe aquatic life from log “bridges” and stumps.

  • Shelter and Shoreline Discovery – Once you cross the drainage, take a trip to the shoreline of Houts Reservoir. Stand on the dock to see wildlife that uses the lake for food, water, shelter, and more!

  • Water Art – When you reach the end of the Wild Zone, take some time to make your mark on a slab of rock embedded in the ground. Express your experiences by a drawing with chalk or water on this expression stone.