High Country News started with a simple yet powerful vision. In 1970, Wyoming rancher Tom Bell saw the environmental challenges of the West and decided to take a stand. From a gritty black-and-white tabloid, HCN has grown into a distinguished media voice, dedicated to providing comprehensive coverage and insights of the Western United States.

What sets HCN apart is its dedication to uncovering the complexities of the West. It’s not just about landscapes and geography; it’s about the people, the communities, and the ever-changing interactions between human and non-human environments. HCN’s writers have shed light on the diverse natural and human communities, dispelling myths and stereotypes that often overshadow the region’s true essence.

High Country News is independent and supported by its readers, who supply a remarkable 75% of our operating revenue through subscriptions and donations.

HCN’s mission is to inform and inspire people to act on behalf of the West’s diverse natural and human communities.

What we do

High Country News is the nation’s leading source of news on the West. In award-winning, in-depth reportingHCN covers the most-pressing social, political and ecological issues in our region. From Alaska and the Northern Rockies to the desert Southwest, the Great Plains to the West Coast, HCN covers 12 Western states and hundreds of Indigenous communities, representing an essential news source for people who care about the West.

Read more about High Country News’ history.

Our print and online magazine reach over 220,000 readers each month, including policymakers, educators, public land managers, environmental professionals, outdoor enthusiasts and anyone passionate about the West. Our online archives stretch from the first issue in 1970 to today.

Who we are

Our team and board members embody a legacy of trust, independence, thoughtfulness and authenticity. With a commitment to the people and living things of the West, we operate freely in the public interest, reflecting the true spirit of our region.

Diversity Statement

High Country News is part of a growing number of newsrooms addressing a historic lack of representation, inclusion and equity in journalism with effective solutions. We aim to publish diverse perspectives on Western environmental and social issues and to inspire our readers to expand their own outlooks while attracting and engaging a broader public.

We are a nonprofit

High Country News’ independent research and unique voice are supported largely by our devoted readership through subscriptions and donations. Grant support, advertising and syndication sales make up the rest. Read our annual report and our recent 990.

Help us keep going

In order to continue we require support from our readers. Please consider subscribing to the magazine and making a donation. We offer a number of subscription options which offers you immediate access to the website. 

If you have any questions regarding subscriptions please contact our friendly in-house customer service team or call (970) 527-4898.

Join the conversation

We showcase diverse, engaging storytelling, highlighting the many different experiences unfolding across the West. We welcome pitches from writers who bring a variety of experiences and perspectives to the magazine, including writers of color, LGBTQ+ writers, disabled writers and writers from other groups traditionally underrepresented in the media.

To send us a news tip, please email us at editor@hcn.org or tell us online. To share confidential information, please use one of the secure methods we offer.

Letters to the Editor

Email High Country News at editor@hcn.org or submit a letter to the editor.

For correspondence addressed to High Country News, HCN or to the editors, permission to publish will be considered implicit unless specifically stated otherwise. Letters may be edited for length, accuracy and clarity.

Publication policy

As a magazine, High Country News values tolerance and the celebration of human difference, as well as reasoned, mostly unimpeded conversation, demonstration and debate — achieved through facts and the evidence of experience. High Country News seeks to publish a diversity of viewpoints, but we will not publish or disseminate work that is discriminatory or otherwise harmful to individual safety or wellbeing. We will not publish work that promotes a prejudicial outlook, action or treatment of people or any attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, or race, or their supposed characteristics. Any statements or quotations that include such attitudes will be carefully examined and contextualized to minimize harm. High Country News defines harm as mental or physical injury, damage, or hurt. 

Read our corrections policy.

Republish our work

We syndicate our High Country News work, and our articles have been featured in The New York TimesNewsweekUtne ReaderThe Christian Science MonitorThe Navajo TimesThe Boston GlobeRolling Stone, USA Today and many more publications. The Los Angeles Times describes High Country News as “the most influential environmental journal in the Mountain West.

Find out more about syndicating High Country News stories.

HCN’s Impact

Explore some of HCN’s award-winning coverage.

High Country News has received numerous national journalism awards, including:

  • Staff Writer B. “Toastie” Oaster was nominated for a 2023 American Society of Magazine Editors award, one of the industry’s highest honors, in the Feature Writing category for their story “Underwater Legends” published in HCN’s October 2022 issue.
  • Images from the first-known Native American female photographer” won INN’s Insight Award for Visual Journalism in 2022
  • Leah Sottile was selected as a finalist for the 2022 Michael Kelly Award for “Did James Plymell Need to Die?
  • Land-grab universities by Tristan Ahtone and Robert Lee won the 2020 Polk Award for Education Reporting, the 2020 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, the 2021 Sigma Award,the 2021 Arrell M. Gibson Award from the Western History Association, the Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Creativity in Digital History, an award of excellence from the Society for News Design’s Best of Print News Design competition and the 2021 Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Journalism. It was also nominated for an Ellie Award in the public interest category.
  • 2016 Society of Environmental Journalists Award for Beat Reporting for Jonathan Thompson’s story “When our river turned orange,” which appeared on our website and was later followed up on in a feature story about the Gold King Mine spill.
  • The American Geophysical Union named Doug Fox its 2015 Walter Sullivan Award Winner for his story “Dust Detectives,” which appeared in our Dec. 22 issue. The award committee praised Fox’s “excellent storytelling, compelling characters, and his choice of an important, newsworthy topic.”
  • The National Association of Science Writers recently recognized contributing editor Cally Carswell with a prestigious 2014 Science in Society award for her story “The Tree Coroners“. The Dec. 16 story, which profiled researchers who hope to save the West’s threatened forests by understanding just how and why trees die, won the Science Reporting with a Local or Regional Focus category. 
  • This story also received a 2014 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards: second place in the Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market category. The SEJ judges said, “Cally Carswell’s well-written, educational and entertaining story created a narrative that most certainly heightened public awareness about an important topic that is often overlooked when discussing the planet’s growing carbon footprint: the vital role trees play … This story highlighted the challenges of this important work.”
  • The 2013 Utne Media Award for Environmental Coverage. “HCN stood out for its consistent reports on important stories we’re not reading anywhere else,” wrote the Utne judges. “From the effects of Twilight-inspired tourism on the Quileute Nation to half-built subdivisions at the foot of the Grand Tetons, HCN shines a spotlight on our culture’s relationship to the wild. And while it might be easy to vilify, say, a developer in the Tetons or the Twilight tourists, HCN’s reporters seek nuance instead.”
  • A 2013 Science in Society Award, from the National Association of Science Writers, in the Science Reporting with a Local or Regional Focus category, for Hillary Rosner’s “The Color of Bunny,” a story about how snowshoe hares are adapting to climate change.
  • A 2011 Special Citation from the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism for David Wolman’s “Accidental Wilderness.” This story also won a Society of Environmental Journalists Award (third place in the Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market category).
  • The 2011 Excellence in Journalism Awards, from the Native American Journalists Association, Best Feature Monthly, Division 1 category, for Terri Hansen’s “Celebrating Shades of Green.”
  • A 2010 Special Citation from the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism for Jonathan Thompson’s “Wind Resistance.”
  • A 2010 Kavli Science Journalism Award, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in the Small Newspaper category, for Hillary Rosner’s “One Tough Sucker.”
  • A 2010 Science in Society Award, from the National Association of Science Writers, in the Science Reporting with a Local or Regional Focus category, for J. Madeleine Nash’s “Bring in the Cows.”
  • The 2010 Utne Reader Independent Press Award for Best Environmental Coverage.
  • A 2010 Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism with a social-justice perspective, for Rebecca Clarren’s “The Dark Side of Dairies.”
  • A 2010 First Person Narrative award, from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, for Michelle Nijhuis’ essay “Township 13 South, Range 92 West, Section 35.”
  • The Native American Journalists Association Best Environmental Story of 2010, in the Monthly/bimonthly category, for Debra Utacia Krol’s “Cultural Blight.”
  • A 1986 George Polk Award for Environmental Reporting.

Ethics policy

We subscribe to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News:

Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services or opinions.

We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.

Our organization may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.

Our organization will make public all donors. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with INN’s Membership Standards.