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Who let the Dawgs out?

Great ways to spend time outdoors around the UW campus

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Outdoor Recreation

Whether it’s a quick stroll through Ravenna Park or base camping at Mount Rainier, spending time outside is a wonderful and important part of a balanced college experience and having these places within an arm’s reach is arguably one of the greatest benefits of living in Seattle. 

Not only is it a wonderful way of getting away from class work for a bit, research has shown that spending time outdoors on a regular basis has been proven to improve students’ performance in school, according to UWild Field and Gear Garage Manager Bryan Anderson, whose master’s research focused on community development in students.

If you’re new to the UW, or simply haven’t had the chance to explore the area and don’t know where to start, UW Recreation is a fantastic resource.

Offering sports, classes, trips, and activities for all skill levels, UW Recreation is a great way not only to get out of your dorm, but also to meet new people, make connections, and immerse yourself in the UW community. 

“One of the biggest things we offer is opportunities to build community through outdoor experience,” Anderson said. 

UW Recreation hosts UWild Adventures, which organizes and facilitates countless outdoor activities. Whether you are looking for a day hike with your peers, rock climbing at North Bend, a three-day backpacking trip, a Sea Kayaking immersion course, or even a whimsical Full Moon Kayaking trip, UWild has all kinds of student-led opportunities for you to enjoy the outdoors every quarter.

Part of the UWild program is Crags Climbing Center, located in the IMA. For either a quarterly fee or a day pass, students of any experience level can use the indoor climbing walls to practice their climbing techniques. Students looking to challenge themselves should go visit Husky Rock, an outdoor climbing wall built in 1976 and found near the Waterfront Activity Center.

Also part of UWild is the Gear Garage, also located at the Waterfront Activity Center. Here, students can rent out any kind of outdoor equipment, ranging from tents and sleeping bags to fishing gear and paddleboards, all for affordable prices.


“We do our best to operate at a really low cost, because the goal is not necessarily to make money, but to provide opportunity for students,” Anderson said.

Another fun way to spend time outside is to take advantage of the many intramural sports that are offered at UW Recreation — all accessible with purchase of a $20 IMA Pass. If none of these options are of interest to you, the UW is also home to dozens of Rec Clubs. These student-led groups offer involvement in sports like taekwondo, volleyball, archery, equestrian, alpine skiing, and sailing. 

Beyond what the UW has to offer, there are endless ways to get outside and have a good time in the great outdoors. Popular places amongst students and faculty include Ravenna Park, Green Lake Park, the Urban Horticultural Center, or the Union Bay Natural Area. Any place near the waterfront is sure to be a welcome reprieve from classroom stress.

“Our position on the waterfront makes for all these pretty unique activities,” UWild climbing director and Wilderness Medicine Manager Nathan Page said. “Especially new folks… can kind of forget how close [they] are to Lake Washington.”

There are countless activities to participate in, at, and near the UW campus that will get you outside, moving, and away from that pesky desk for a bit. 

Reach writer Lilli Trompke at Twitter: @LilliTrompke

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