Michigan DNR's Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit opens today

Gov. Snyder, Mayor Duggan celebrate DNR Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit, bringing 'Up North, Downtown'

Beginning with today's opening to the public, the new Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) in Detroit brings a host of outdoor experiences to the city’s urban center, allowing students, residents and visitors to learn about Michigan’s outdoor recreation opportunities, conservation efforts and world-class natural resources through hands-on activities.

The recent grand opening event on July 16 celebrated the center’s completion. Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, HGTV’s “Rehab Addict” star Nicole Curtis, Michigan Department of Natural Resources leaders and a host of partners and stakeholders were present for the ribbon cutting.

The OAC, located at 1801 Atwater St. and operated by the Michigan DNR, will bring “Up North, Downtown” for visitors of all ages. The center complements the nearby state-managed Milliken State Park and Harbor and Belle Isle Park, creating a trio of recreation facilities that provide a gateway to the outdoors.

“The OAC continues Detroit’s forward momentum by bringing another great natural resources-based experience to the Detroit riverfront,” said Snyder, who signed the Detroit “Grand Bargain” bills in the half-completed center in June 2014. “The refurbished historic building is a perfect symbol of Detroit’s ongoing revitalization.”

The building – site of the former Globe Trading Co. – served as a foundry and automotive manufacturing plant more than a century ago. Much of the historical integrity of the building was maintained during construction of the Outdoor Adventure Center, including walls of original brick, cast iron and Wellman trusses. An exhibit in the center is dedicated to sharing the building’s important history.

A unique blend of public and private sponsorships – including the city of Detroit, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and Detroit Riverfront Conservancy – helped make the center and its exhibits a reality. During the ceremony, ITC Holdings Corp. presented a check for $100,000 to the DNR for trail exhibit development and programming in the Outdoor Adventure Center.

“The community has stepped up once again to help bring another important experience to downtown Detroit,” DNR Director Keith Creagh said. “This natural resources-based center will serve as an introduction to the outdoors and offer next steps to outdoor recreation opportunities throughout Michigan. We want every generation to enjoy and protect Michigan’s great outdoors heritage.”

The Outdoor Adventure Center invites guests to enjoy an up-close indoor exploration of Michigan’s great outdoors. It features a 40-foot-tall, man-made, interactive tree; off-road vehicle, bicycle, kayak, canoe and fishing simulators; a life-size beaver lodge and eagle’s nest; an indoor archery range; a 3,000-gallon, freshwater aquarium; a man-made waterfall with a 36-foot drop; and much more to see and experience.

During its opening week, the facility is open for special extended hours from noon to 4 p.m. today, July 20, through Friday, July 24. The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 25, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 26.

After opening week, regular business hours will go into effect. Beginning the week of July 27, the Outdoor Adventure Center will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The facility will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays with the exception of opening week.

During its first days of operation, the OAC will offer special activities for the public:

  • Monday, July 20. Celebrate history with special appearances by Miz Rosie the Storyteller, who tells the story of the Underground Railroad as Harriet Tubman, and participate in physical fitness activities and games outside the facility, courtesy of the U.S. Army.
  • Tuesday, July 21. Get up-close to live Michigan birds, amphibians and reptiles with the teams from Nature Discovery and Wildlife Recovery Association.
  • Wednesday, July 22. Experience art during the unveiling of an original art piece by Louise Phillips of Washington, D.C., courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, and through hands-on, nature-themed art experiences available throughout the day.
  • Thursday, July 23. View a showing of “An American Ascent,” which documents the first African-American expedition to Denali, North America’s highest peak.
  • Friday, July 24. Get up-close to bats while talking to instructors from the Organization for Bat Conservation at Cranbrook Institute of Science.
Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors (age 62 and older), $3 for children ages 2-12 and free for children younger than 2. Annual family memberships also are available for $50.

A Recreation Passport is not needed to access Outdoor Adventure Center parking or to enter the building. However, the Recreation Passport, required for access to Michigan’s 102 state parks (including Belle Isle Park), can be purchased at the Outdoor Adventure Center during regular business hours.

Learn more about the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center at www.michigan.gov/oac or www.facebook.com/MiOutdoorAdventureCenter.