Celebrating the 23rd Anniversary of the OE/Ropes Programs

Adventure Park Challenge CourseWelcome to Mother Lode’s 49th season. But did you know about 2023/23? Yes, this is the 23rd year we have facilitated one of the most innovative rope/challenge courses and environmental education programs you can find anywhere!

Located on the river, visitors and school groups from across California have experienced the Mother Lode High Ropes Challenge Course. Whether it be jumping out of our 40 foot-high Leap-of-Faith, or conquering the Up-and-Over Wall, the Mother Lode Challenge Course has had a lasting impact on individuals and team groups for the past two decades.

More uniquely though, our challenge course also includes “elements” that are actually in the river!  For instance, “River Skills” includes hands-on exercises in river crossing, river rescue, raft “flip drills” and swimming in whitewater. These are rapidly becoming among our most popular activities.

Over two decades ago what motivated Mother Lode to begin the new millennium with such a dramatic widening of our scope and offerings?  Mother Lode has always had river conservation as a core value, but back in 2000, the company wanted to expand its reach to youth. With the impacts of the climate crisis becoming ever more apparent to the river community, our goal was to educate and prepare the future generations for a new type of environmental reality. The goal was to instill a sense of responsibility to the natural world, while promoting the knowledge, skills, resilience and grit necessary to cope with the challenges of the future. But of course, to truly reach children, you need to add an element of fun, and thus the ropes course and outdoor education curriculum were developed.

Mother Lode Whitewater Guide School

Each year, about 2,000 students play, learn, and grow on our riverfront property during the months of April, May, September, and October. The groups learn about topics ranging from California foothill ecology and alternative energy processes, to Nisenan culture with our on-site grinding stones and evidence of an ancient indigenous camp, and Gold Rush History at the nearby Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. They participate in team building activities on our high-ropes course like the Pipe Dream, and learn the basics of river safety by jumping into the South Fork American River with our Swiftwater-Rescue trained river guides. We have seen immense success in these programs in student growth and development, and know we have had a lasting impact on the way our students see themselves within their environment.

The same elements from our Outdoor Education Program are open to the public as well! Along with a Class III river trip, our clients have the opportunity to join us in our high-ropes course elements. We love sharing our Challenge Course with our individual guests, as well as larger corporate groups to see comfort boundaries being pushed, and appreciation for nature being fostered.

Though it may be winter still, we cannot wait for the 23rd Outdoor Education Season to begin! We look forward to hosting you on the river!


Picture of Scott Underwood

Scott Underwood

Company owner Scott Underwood has enjoyed the privilege of helping Mother Lode share his love of rivers with over 290,000 people. He is proud to have helped facilitate the writing of over 29,000 letters which, in turn, have helped save 15 rivers along the Sierra.
Activites at Mother Lode

On The American River

At The Adventure Center

Team Building & River Skills

50th Anniversary Ropes Rafting

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