University of Michigan students have been journeying west to the Camp Davis Rocky Mountain Field Station near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, every summer since 1929. Set in a breathtakingly beautiful valley on the edge of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park, the outdoor research and teaching facility was originally established as a surveying camp for what was then the university’s engineering department. Now managed by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Camp Davis’s rigorous experiential learning program is influenced by its setting, offering field courses in geology, environmental science, and even the history and literature of the Rockies.
Generations of Camp Davis alumni have fond memories of summers past: Treks to the top of the deceptively named Cream Puff Peak (with an elevation of 9,665 feet); all-day hikes to study fossilized records of ancient life on Earth ending with mid-summer snowball fights and views of expansive valleys filled with vibrant yellow wildflowers; afternoons in Yellowstone, abundant with thermal features, wolves, and elk; twenty-foot cliff dives into the frigid glacial melt of Lake Phelps; and, not least, bunking in the charmingly rustic, 89-year-old, sheet metal cabins, warmed solely with cast iron stoves.
This month, when Camp Davis welcomes many of those alumni and friends for its 90th anniversary reunion, they’ll get a look at the all-new students cabins and recreation hall—complete with heat and bathrooms!—that were made possible in part by their support of a five-year, $5 million fundraising campaign. Infrastructure improvements like these ensure that Camp Davis’s cherished field camp traditions can endure while meeting the needs of current and future students, who’ll go on to make their own lifelong memories in the rugged Rockies.