Maricopa County Parks and Recreation

About Us

Welcome to the Desert Outdoor Center at Lake Pleasant. Tucked into the hills surrounding Honeymoon Cove, the Center is an award-winning world class outdoor education facility and event venue. Over 30 programs ranging from dinosaur history to alternative energy are presented by a professional staff of interpretive rangers. In addition, during June the Center hosts Lake Pleasant Camp, a Boy Scout day camp that allows non-Scouts to attend. The summer camp specializes in aquatic sports like small boat sailing, canoeing and kayaking, and water sports. Within its 26,000 sq. ft. of space are a large multi-purpose room that seats 150, a full commercial grade kitchen, four classrooms, a live animal exhibit, and two dorms with private showers that sleep 150 total. In addition, the property has an amphitheater that seats 200, a patio that offers a wonderful view of the lake, a 2-mile loop trail, butterfly and ethnobotany gardens, and numerous displays for self-learning.

The pristine desert surrounding the Center on the shore of Lake Pleasant creates an inspiring setting for retreats, weddings and other special gatherings. These special events are 1.5 miles behind our locked entry gate so there are no interruptions.

Although usually reserved for school field trips or special events, infrequently the Center is open for public events that do not require a reservation. These events are stargazing programs held usually twice a year, and kayaking instruction in cooperation with Cabela’s conducted normally three or four Saturdays in July thru September.

Our Philosophy

  • The Desert Outdoor Center provides a fun, hands-on, and inquiry-based learning experience to:
  • Encourage a curiosity about nature
  • Create an interest in scientific concepts
  • Nurture an appreciation for the desert


For many years, the Lake Pleasant Outdoor Center annually served thousands of school children in central Arizona. The converted guest ranch at the south end of Lake Pleasant had developed a reputation for delivering exciting and informative outdoor education programs. In 1992 this site was destroyed to accommodate the expansion of Lake Pleasant, so the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation built a replacement educational site. The doors of the Desert Outdoor Center at Lake Pleasant officially opened on May 1, 1998 under the management of the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department.





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