High Plains Environmental Center

The Wild Zone

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. HPEC’s Wildzone is constantly evolving with the help of volunteers.

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) reflects the growing body of evidence linking the lack of nature in children’s lives and the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. Louv also speaks to the link between healthy childhood development (physical, social, emotional) and exposure to nature and the outdoors.

The Wild Zone at HPEC is a direct response to this study.

“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”

Richard Louv, Last Child In the Woods

Elements of The Wild Zone


Rock Mountain

One 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!