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Before You Go


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Centennial Valley is a remote and wild place. There are no services for at least 30 miles. Plan ahead and be prepared in all aspects of your trip.


  • Gas up before entering Centennial Valley. From the west (I-15) fill up in DuBois or Idaho Falls From the East fill up in West Yellowstone or Island Park
  • There is no cell service in the Valley. Please call the visitor center when you get gas. It helps us know when to expect you. Leave a message with your name, time, and location so we can be on the lookout. Office Phone: 406-276-3320
  • Be aware that South Valley Rd is a well-maintained dirt road. We recommend driving 35 mph (even though the speed limit is 45 mph). Driving Slow reduces your chance of a flat tire (a common occurrence) and demonstrates respect for both wildlife and Valley residents.

Detailed driving directions can be found on our website. However, searching Lakeview, MT on a navigation app will also work.  


  • Student Dorm and University Village

    If you are staying in the student dorm (our 19 bed facility) you will need to bring a sleeping bag and pad, a towel and toiletries if you are in University Village (primitive cabins) you will need to bring: a sleeping bag, a towel, and toiletries and a pillow.

  • Cabins
    Please bring toiletries, cabins are supplied with bedding and towels

We strongly recommend single overnight guests to bring a sleeping bag and towel to help us increase our sustainability measures.


  • Cell phone service is not available at the Center, or in most of the Valley. Smartphone applications like facetime, facebook, skype, suite most people’s communication needs.
  • Wireless internet access can be found in the meeting hall.
  • A land line is available in the visitor center. If you wish to make outgoing calls bring a pre-paid phone card. (We don’t have long-distance service.)

We encourage our guests to appreciate the opportunity to disconnect, and to use communication services sparingly. 

Food and Beverages

  • We offer catering services, and ask that you inform your instructor about any dietary allergies at least two weeks prior to arriving on site.
  • We also encourage you to bring snacks and beverages. The student dorm and the University Village both have large refrigerators. A few of the cabins have mini fridges, but some do not. Coolers are handy. Traveling quickly to a grocery store isn’t practical, so plan carefully for your stay.


  • If you leave the property – whether hiking or driving-- you must write down your travel plans on the office whiteboard, and tell a peer. Traveling in groups is recommended.
  • Mosquitos are common June-July. Bring repellant.
  • Plan for altitude and sun. At an elevation of 6,600 ft, the sun burns and dehydrates quickly. Nights can also be chilly. Bring sunscreen, a canteen, and layers of clothing.
  • On your first night, we will discuss bear safety and other Center protocols. Bear spray is provided and required on field excursions.

Safety and emergency

  • Medical care is at least an hour away. Be cognizant of your safety. Please bring your medications, and tell your instructor, in advance, about any allergies or conditions. Alert your instructor and/or staff immediately if injuries or medical conditions occur.
  • The following phone numbers can be used to contact the Center in the event of a serious emergency: 406-276-3202 or 406-276-3207
  • Upon your arrival, we will review our emergency response plan and provide additional safety guidelines and regulations.


  • We recycle paper, plastic, and cans. However, we ask that guests “pack out” any glass they bring to recycle in Salt Lake.
  • We make efforts to limit the amount of trash we generate. This includes not supplying dispensable single-use bottles. We appreciate your help.

Additional Rules and Policies

  • Possession or distribution of alcoholic beverages by underage students is not allowed per University policy and Utah and Montana state laws. Alcohol misuse and abuse will not be tolerated.
  • Possession and use of illegal drugs and smoking within 50 feet of buildings are forbidden.
  • Evening use of the Cantina must be cleared with Center staff and a faculty member must be present at all times, and if necessary, assist with the closing of the building and clean up.
  • Permission from faculty and Center staff must also be granted for the following activities: personal cooking in the kitchens, climbing the fire tower, and leaving the Center.
  • We strive to be good neighbors to the Red Rock Lakes Wildlife Refuge staff. Quiet hours begin at 10PM.

Packing List


  • Sleeping bag (if in dorms). Pillow sleeping bag and pad (if in University Village)
  • Towel
  • Toiletries, personal items, medicine
  • Water bottle
  • Sun screen
  • Bug spray
  • Sturdy close toed shoes
  • Any additional items required by instructor


  • Backpack or daypack
  • Rain Jacket
  • Bring layers for sun and bug protection --pants and long sleeve shirt—as well as some for warmth -- a hat, gloves and warm jacket – as days are sunny but nights can be cold.
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Beanie or Wool hat

Optional – provided your instructor allows

  • Fishing gear W/Montana permit
  • Swimsuit
  • Bike

Guest Forms

Guest forms must be filled out prior to arrival at the Taft-Nicholson Center

Taft-Nicholson Liability Waiver Form


Last Updated: 6/30/21