Collage of Western landscapes including mountains, sand dunes, hikers, national parks and ranches.

Explore the North American West

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Experience the West

The West is best experienced in person. We invite you to use the resources below as a guide to activities and events in the San Francisco Bay Area, California and the American West.

The local West: Around the San Francisco Bay Area

  • Walking the Farm
    Author Tom DeMund has written a book that includes eighteen guided hikes of the Stanford campus and the surrounding area. Walking the Farm is a great way to explore local history.
  • Stanford Outdoor Education
    SOE provides students with the opportunity to explore the outdoors with group trips, get training in wilderness first aid and related skills, and lead outdoor trips across California. 
  • Field Learning with the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability
    The Doerr School offers field learning on all seven continents and oceans, but some of this work is concentrated on the west coast. Any Stanford student may join a variety of programs, from two-day coastal geology field courses to Sophomore College field studies. Doerr also offers a quarter-long field course in social and biophysical systems in Hawaii. 
  • Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
    This greenbelt system offers myriad options for hikes across the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit their website for information about the District, trail maps, and further information for exploring the preserves. 
  • Stanford to the Sea
    Each spring, the Center hosts its annual Stanford to the Sea hike. The 22-mile trek begins at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve and winds through various San Mateo County parks before ending at San Gregorio State Beach. Each year, experts in water, land use, and local history join us to provide short information presentations along the way. Stanford to the Sea is open to friends of the Lane Center by invitation only.

Beyond the Bay

  • U.S. National Scenic and Historic Trails
    The National Park Service maintains an impressive network of trails across the nation. David Kennedy, director emeritus of the Bill Lane Center, currently sits on the advisory council of one of these trails, the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. The PNT is in the process of being further developed and formalized, and Prof. Kennedy and the council are working to create a vision for the trail that includes the involvement of multiple stakeholders, from hikers to rural communities across the trail.

Other Centers of the West

Our colleagues at universities elsewhere in the West and beyond are working on their own courses, programs, and research about the region. See below for a list of other university centers organized around themes and issues of the American West.


Homepage of the University of Colorado's Center of the American West

University of Colorado-Boulder 

Homepage of West Texas A&M University's Center for the Study of the American West

West Texas A&M University - Canyon, Texas

SMU Clements Center

Southern Methodist University - Dallas, Texas


Charles Redd Center logo

Brigham Young University - Provo, Utah

Montana State University

Montana State University - Bozeman, Montana

Oconnor Center for the Rocky Mountain West

University of Montana - Missoula, Montana

Yale North American West Initiative

Yale University - New Haven, Connecticut

Augustana Center for Western Studies

Augustana University - Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Huntington USC

University of Southern California - Los Angeles, California

American Heritage Center Wyoming

University of Wyoming - Laramie, Wyoming

Homepage of the University of Utah's American West Center

University of Utah - Salt Lake City, Utah