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Darran Wells

Professor of Outdoor Education and Leadership

Darran Wells
Contact Darran Wells




I'm really passionate about all kinds of outdoor activities - hiking, climbing, caving, and skiing, but mountain biking is a sport I dedicate most of my free time to.”


Darran Wells grew up racing mountain bikes with his father in Houston, Texus. After graduating Magna Cum Laude in Philosophy from the University of Houston and completing EMT training, he joined the US Peace Corps and served two tours in Central Africa as a health education volunteer before returning to the states to become a full-time instructor for the NOLS in 1999.
At NOLS, he taught mountaineering, rock-climbing, whitewater rafting, caving, backcountry skiing, and customized leadership development trainings in wilderness settings throughout the US and Alaska. He was senior faculty and custom education program coordinator from 1999-2007. As a senior instructor for NOLS Professional, he led leadership training programs for the Wharton School of Business, NASA and the US Naval Academy.
From 2000 to 2005, Wells competed internationally in multi-day adventure races and appeared on television in Eco-Challenge, Primal Quest, and Global Extremes. In 2012, he wrote the second edition of his book, NOLS Wilderness Navigation, a how-to book on using topo maps, compasses and GPS.

Wells completed his master’s degree in adventure education at Prescott College in 2007 before taking over the outdoor education degree program at Central Wyoming College. In addition to outdoor skills courses, Wells teaches courses in the history and theory of experiential education, leadership development, outdoor teaching techniques, and natural resource management. Wells is a Wilderness First Responder and has volunteered for Fremont County Search and Rescue since 2000.

“For a small community college, we have the most incredible facilities in both Lander and Riverton,” Wells said. “Our Alpine Science Institute is an ideal campus for learning outdoor skills and developing a deep appreciation and understanding of the natural world.” 

Wells said he enjoys seeing students light up when they climb a steep rock, ski powder, or jump a mountain bike for the first. He said that is a driving force for him.

“I love helping students to live and travel comfortably in the mountains and develop a passion for the natural world.”

Wells has a wife, Stacy, who is an adjunct instructor at CWC’s Alpine Science Institute. Their daughter climbed the Grand Teton, Mount Kilimanjaro without her parents in 2020. She also started backcountry splitboarding in the Wyoming Rockies.

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  • Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with a minor in English, University of Houston
  • Master of Arts in Adventure Education, Prescott College
  • Two tours with the Peace Corps in Central Africa
  • Accomplished multi-sport endurance athlete
  • Officer for Fremont County Search and Rescue
  • Author of NOLS Wilderness Navigation (Stackpole Books)
  • Academic Recognition Scholarship from the University of Houston
  • Graduated Magna Cum Laude at the University of Houston
  • Accomplished Adventure Race